Wednesday, 18 July 2012

London getting into the mood for the Jubilympics

Remember the rain-sodden images of London during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend? The weather hasn't improved any since then, although the mood of the town seems to have deflated.

This week, as Olympic traffic lanes came into force from Heathrow to the city centre,  and we witnessed the grasping appearance of G4S boss Nick Buckles in the Commons, you got the feeling that London is at  tipping point in making its mind up about the Coca Cola games.

The inconvenience, the crowds and carnival of Jubilee events were tolerable because the city, and the country, bought into the occasion. The events were largely free, easy to engage and despite the weather, the whole thing was given the benign backing of the public because it was, after all, for her Majesty.

Yesterday there was a noisy taxi driver protest outside Parliament against the ban on black cabs going into the Olympic lanes. Today the Independent reports how government Ministers are using the event as a massive lobbying exercise for £50 billion worth of global investment deals.

And everywhere are the looped conversations of people who were unsuccessful in getting Olympic tickets or have found the price of the remaining seats too expensive. Either that or the boastful claims of those who were organised enough to max out their Visa card months ago.

The highly commercialised nature of the modern games, the combination of exclusion symbolised by the Olympic lanes and the greedy corporate incompetence displayed by G4S, could swing the public mood against the games before the starting gun is fired. And because London is the prism through which the media sees the nation then that could affect attitudes countrywide.

The Olympic torch, which seems to have a life all of its own, tells another story though. It has been greeted by massive crowds on its sodden journey around the UK.

I'm sure the minute the Olympic flame splutters into life at the stadium that  and Mark Cavendish wins that first medal (if I haven't  just jinxed it) people will get behind TeamGB and enjoy the whole event. It just needs a few good headlines this weekend, some luck, and some sunshine.