Wednesday July 25, 2012
Smooth sailing all the way in London
London Pulse by S.RAMAGURU
FEARS have given way to optimism. And the signs are there that the London Olympic Games, which start on Friday, will be a huge success.
Flying into London on Monday, we were expecting the worst – given the incessant negative news flowing out of the capital city.
Crowded airport, visa headaches, jams due to closure of lanes, uncompleted facilities, strikes, etc.
But upon touchdown at 5.20am on Monday, we – the accredited journalists – were in for a surprise.
Foreign journalists found it a breeze getting their accreditations processed and going through the Customs, thanks to the special lanes in place.
But a quick look at the normal lane showed that the queues were cleared just as fast.
The entire process was over in just under an hour and the drive into London by taxi took just over an hour.
So, all in all, a very good first impression of the city, proof that the London authorities are ready for the Games.
Ample signboards greet visitors and no one will miss the fact that London is hosting the mother of all Games – the Olympics.
The ride on the tube was a crowded affair but bearable. Arriving at the Stradford station, we find ample help at hand to provide directions as the volunteers go out of their way to assist travellers.
One also cannot miss the Olympic Park. The impressive stadiums and facilities stand majestically and can be seen way before one reaches the front gate.
The checks by the army before being allowed entry into the Olympic Park is very thorough.
The Olympic buses will only start their runs into London from today. Will they cause massive jams as many fear? Only time will tell.
Lord Sebastian Coe, the organising chairman of the Olympic Organising Committee, welcomed the international media at a simple ceremony.
His message: “We have worked tirelessly to get everything in time for the Games.
“Today I can tell you that it is in place. We want you to enjoy the Games and remember that it is no mean task to get it ready.
“We have endeavoured to make this a memorable occasion for you and we want you to have a pleasant experience as you cover the events.”
Maybe there are issues which will surface later – with transport being the biggest concern.
But then again transport has always been an issue at any major multi-sport events.
The sprawling Olympic Park, equivalent to 350 football fields, is massive and impressive to say the least.
But this 30th edition of the Games, in the city where modern Olympics was born, has all the makings of yet another success story.
Footnote: Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Taibi can expect star treatment – she is one of the most sought after athletes at the Games.
Most foreign media – both print and electronic – are already talking about the eight-month pregnant shooter. And there are tons of requests for interviews from television networks from Brazil and Europe.
So, win or lose, Malaysia will be in limelight.
But let’s hope we are in the news for the right reasons – for winning medals, gold is possible.