Fact: Canada embraced the 2010 games like no host nation before. Would Brits match?
I was in a cab with “me mates” yesterday telling them London doesn’t feel any more crowded than usual, despite the Olympics being here.
We were in East London, a young area filled with bars and nightlife, and you’d have no idea the city is hosting the biggest sports competition in the world. There was no buzz on the street, no patriotic fans dressed in England’s colours, and as I already said, the crowds have been quite normal.
To be frank, it’s the opposite of how Vancouver was in 2010.
As we were discussing it, the cabbie piped up. “Can I tell you if it’s been busier in London now?”
“Sure. Is it?”
“It’s fucking dead as a dodo,” he said. The angry cab driver told us about a shift a day earlier where he made 35 pounds in one 9 hour shift. He said theatres are giving away tickets for free. The Olympics, he concluded, have “scared everyone away.”
Don’t get me wrong, many Brits are loving it. I was at Wimbledon on Friday when Andy Murray defeated Novak Djokovic to go on to the men’s tennis final and man was it wild. Flags, Team GB shirts, facepaint and weird English chants.
Murray signs autographs after his semi-final victory
Last night, when England won three athletics gold medals within an hour, Olympic Park erupted. But travel a few miles away from the park, and again, you could be completely oblivious.
During the Vancouver Olympics, Canada’s pride hit you like a slap in the face as soon as you left your house. And you were prepared because you were covered in red yourself and making your way downtown to join the party.
But the English are different. From conversations with some locals, it’s almost as if many of them take pride in not getting excited. Or it’s just not cool to do so.
Who knows, perhaps “Super Saturday” (where Great Britain won six gold medals) was what the country needed to jump on board. And if Murray defeats Roger Federer in the tennis final today, it could be their version of Canada’s hockey gold medal.
The Vancouver Olympics transcended sports fans and affected the masses. Will it manage to do the same in England? We’re only halfway through… I’ll keep you posted.
Update: since posting this, Andy Murray has beaten Roger Federer for the gold medal in men’s tennis. Pretty sure England loves him more than Prince William right now.