Press call for ‘quirkily British’ games

London, August 25:

Organisers of the 2012 London Olympics should aim to put their own distinctive stamp on the Games and not try to one-up Beijing’s effort, British newspapers said on Monday.

A day after London was officially handed the baton as the Olympic city as

the Games closed in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, several newspapers called for a “quirkily British” take on the Olympics.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis marked London’s position as the new host city by belting out 1970s classic “Whole Lotta Love” atop a red double-decker bus at the handover ceremony, and former England football captain David Beckham then booted a ball into the middle of the stadium.

“The handover was marked with a quirky eight-minute cameo of the capital that smacked more of the swinging Sixties than of the 21st-century cosmopolis that will stage the next Games,” The Daily Telegraph’s editorial read.

“If this is a statement of intent from the 2012 organisers that they will not try to match Beijing

but will instead rely on flair and wit, it is commendable. As an emerging superpower, China felt it had something to prove.

London should — in keeping with our nation’s character — be a little more understated.”

The Daily Mail chimed in, noting that the “burden of expectation weighs heavy, and hopes are high”, adding the organisers “are no doubt nervous, wondering how on earth they follow that.”

It added: “But they shouldn’t seek to emulate Beijing. We should aim for something distinctively, quirkily British, with a lasting legacy, and no terrible hangover — in the shape of huge debts as well as unused and unloved sports stadia.”

The Guardian continued along a similar theme, noting that London’s 16.6-billion-dollar budget

could not hope to match China’s, which was more than twice as large.

“The real lesson of Beijing, though, is that there is no hope for London in trying to outdo the Chinese on grandeur,” the paper’s editorial read.

“Encouragingly, the signs yesterday were that this is still not being attempted. The Chinese superpower may have used the games to demonstrate its new might. What made them great for the rest of the world, however, was sport — pure and simple. London should have the confidence to concentrate on that, instead of the accompanying pageantry.”

The Financial Times pointed out that the lasting impact of the Games on the east end of London was likely to be the most important positive element to emerge from the Olympics, but warned that such regeneration was not guaranteed.

“East London needs better transport links, for which the Olympics are a convenient excuse... Yet east London also needs better schools; the current crop scare off some of the young, ambitious families that the area needs, while those who choose to stay deserve better,” it wrote.

“The singular virtue of the games as a catalyst for regeneration is that they concentrate resources and bureaucratic attention on east London. Those resources, and that attention, are overdue. But they do not guarantee success.”