After years of preparation, London this week will see the last ripple of the long and extensive journey the Olympic torch has made from Dover, where the famous five rings were projected onto the White Cliffs of Dover. Traveling across the UK over a 70-day
ourney, the torch finally reached the Tower of London on day 63, and the Olympic pageantry returned to the capital, which saw its last Olympic event in 1948. The UK
and London’s relay with the torch has sure made the community of Britain a part of the Olympics! After all, we taxpayers have contributed 9.3billion pounds, at a time of economic austerity…
For those visitors arriving into the UK, Heathrow and Gatwick airports are bedecked with bright purple accreditation desks, ( comptoirs d’accueil…for the French who didn’t win the bid… ) and are manned with helpful crew, dressed in bright summery Olympic logo-ed purple T-shirts! Crowd control is tightened up, and having underestimated the popularity new codes of conduct are coming into play, as the great inauguration date approaches, amid transport strains and overwhelming crowds. Access to London, for anyone “Olympic”, is via a cool fast-track Olympic branded lane…so who knows what will happen when the usual day-to-day business traffic of 4 lanes goes down to one at rush-hour…watch out all normal mortals, maybe best to stay home, to watch it all unfold from the comfort of your sofa…!!
On a summery day, sitting on the back of the Harley, we ventured to Stratford and the Olympic Village, and reached the central Olympic reservations which were still quiet at the week-end, as access to Stratford is getting ever-more limited and secure with large high steel fences surrounding the inner sporting sanctum. Over the tops of the enclosure, just in sight, are Zaha Hadid’s quite beautiful London Aquatics Centre, and Anish Kapoor’s £19m red iron Orbit Tower installation, which sends public art into the skies…with a restaurant on the top!
As these masterpieces wait for their highlight, the final stages of the inauguration are also closing in. A dancer in the Opening Ceremony tells how planning for this event started in August 2011, and rehearsals have been weekly since April 2012. Danny Boyle, the visionary creative director of this ambitious ceremony has overseen every detail, working alongside Rick Smith (Underworld) for the musical coordination with the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra.
On Friday 27th July, at 20.12 hours precisely, thousands of viewers will watch the “Isles of Wonder” ceremony which will be the very Best of Britain, rolled out in sceptered isles with about 1000 performers in each, covering every significant era of the British Isles: a showcase of the best of the Host Nation. Her Majesty the Queen will also attend, after all her own personal celebrations for her Diamond Jubilee, and will be greeted by CountJacques Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee.
What a year 2012 has been, and is going to be!
Rosalind van Lamsweerde-Milani