“The eyes of the world are on Britain” is a familiar sentiment conjured upon any mention of the Olympic Games. Such a sentiment provokes a British pride basking in the international limelight. But more noticeably it creates a nervy, jittery, and bumbling prelude (much like Boris Johnson) to the beginning of the biggest sporting event on earth.
Just think of an actor that stands in the wings before the performance of his lifetime. Butterflies wreak havoc in his stomach before he takes to the stage to perform in front of thousands. Britain currently stands in the wings but the audience is millions. The problem is that Britain has no curtain to cover the blunders in the wings and the recent slip ups just days before the Olympics are certainly worrying.
First there came the security blunder with G4S, a story still grabbing the headlines and causing controversy. Army members dotted around the Olympic village is not a welcoming sight and someone today remarked in an angered tone that this is not Britain but some sort of army camp. But he assured me that the troops were well mannered and cordial. I suppose this offers some sort of consolation. After all, it is not their fault.
Next came the Beckham disappointment that saw the football superstar left out of Team GB. The man with the golden boot is a sporting icon and poster boy for the Games. Whilst manager Stuart Pearce claims that Beckham’s absence is for footballing reasons, there is no surprise that 500,000 Olympic football tickets have been recalled after failing to sell. Lets be fair, after a thrilling Premiership season and a summer packed with superstars at the Euros, who wants to see Craig Bellamy kick a ball? Maybe a bit of Becks magic would have put some more bottoms on seats.
Following that came the coach fiasco where members of Team USA and Team Australia got lost for four hours after the coach driver lost his way in the labyrinth that is London, especially with the new Olympic lanes causing apparent havoc with the City’s roads.
The latest embarrassment comes today as organisers have stated that the Olympic ceremony needs to be cut by half an hour as the disparate parts of the performance were only strung together today. Why has Danny Boyle left is this late to do a trial run? The Olympics are only nine days away! But we must have faith because he directed Slumdog Millionaire.
Britain is running fast and it has cleared several hurdles but it just seems to be stumbling on the last few. It is as if the BBC’s Twenty
Twelve mockumentary is more like a prophecy than a satire.
How does the UK pull itself together in the final stages? It needs to be united when it comes to politics. Yes, this seems like an impossible task and perhaps it may prove to e so, but the quibbling in the Commons needs to stop and fingers must stop being pointed for the time being over who is to blame for the G4S scandal. The security problems must no doubt be investigated and people need to be held account, but a full scale investigation should be launched after the Games have ended.
London 2012 is just days away and Britain has two choices. It can be that actor who waits in the wings for the cue, leaps on stage and delivers the best “friends, Romans, countrymen” speech that has ever been uttered. Or it can be the performer that leaps on stage with the intention of acting their heart out but freezes as the whole world watches.