When I first arrived in London, in 2009, the BT tower was counting days to the Olympics. The countdown was slowly moving down from the 900s. Now, the moment is only a day away! The Olympic Games 2012 open tomorrow.
Over the past few months London has had mixed feelings about the games. Some Londoners deeply resent them and have long ago made plans to escape the city, others grumble about the traffic the games will bring but are secretly excited, and the rest have been counting days with the BT tower and are warmly welcoming the event.
To get an idea of the enormity of the games, watch the BBC animation on Olympics people in numbers, or the more general Guardian animation on Olympics in numbers. You’ll learn that this is the third time London is hosting the Olympics, and 203 countries are participating this year. The global audience to watch the opening ceremony tomorrow evening is estimated to be around 4 billion people. That’s 60% of the world’s population. 10,000 athletes will be competing over the next few weeks, with the assistance of 7500 team officials. There are 23,500 security guards employed specifically for the games to control and protect the 8.8 million ticket holders.
The Olympics 2012 have been claimed to be the first social media Olympics, as well as the “greenest Olympics yet.” The social media aspect isn’t hard to believe. Four years ago, in the Beijing Olympics, approximately 100 million people were on Facebook. Today, there are 900 million. Same applies to Twitter. In 2008 Twitter had six million users, today 600 million. The numbers alone tell the story. The “greenness” of the Olympics, on the other hand, has been somewhat debated. The Guardian writes that, according to the WWF and BioRegional, the London games will “neither be zero carbon nor zero waste.” However, they come very close. The Times of India talks about the different environmental decisions that were made for the games. A good example is that millions of meals of sustainably-sourced fish and local meat in compostable containers will be bought at a giant, entirely recyclable McDonald’s, whose cooking oil will become biodiesel to power its trucks.
The competition for the greenest, busiest, smoothest, most interactive, Olympics seems to rise every four years. Lots of preparation, both in time and manpower, has gone to these games; the bar has been set for Rio de Janeiro for 2016. Lets hope for good weather, fair play, and a comfortable stay for the 203 competing countries. Let the games begin!
Also in July: