London is a great tourist destination and the Olympics have always added that extra appeal, for it highlights human skill and efforts. The spotlight is turned on London where the 2012 Olympics are being held. London promises to put on a great show.
It is no stranger to international sports and is the only city to have hosted the Olympics thrice.
It hosted Olympics in 1908, 1948 and now, for the third time, it is hosting in 2012. The earlier two events were path breaking in many aspects and we can expect the same in 2012.
The London Olympics in 1908 was awarded to Italy but in 1906 the eruption of Mount Vesuvius forced the Italian government to abandon the games. Britain was asked at a short notice and within two years in 1908, held a better organized and successful event. London Olympics 1908 was also the first time an opening ceremony was held and medals were awarded instead of diplomas. The White City Stadium built for the games was the first Olympic stadium in UK. The 1908 games were quite controversial and one of them was the refusal of the USA to dip their flag at the royal box and they continue this practice till today. About 2000 athletes represented 22 countries. The 37 women athletes competing for the first time were the torchbearers for women participation in the Olympics.
Despite the great economics depression after World War II, and shortage of food in UK and Europe, the Olympics were held in 1948 in London. It is hard to imagine that participating countries brought their own food. Surprisingly over about 4000 athletes participated from 59 countries with the natural exclusion of the World War II aggressor countries, Germany and Japan. The Olympics of 1948 helped overcome the general lassitude and depression in Britain and Europe and was warmly welcome by the people.
Now, London finds itself hosting the Olympics in times of the European economic crisis and this speaks volumes for the famous British fighting spirit. They have built an exclusive Olympic Park in Stratford in East London. Of course the historic stadiums of Wimbledon, Wembley and Lords will host tennis, football and oddly the hallowed grounds of Lords will host archery. The best facilities will be available for athletes, official and visitors. From 110 events in 21 sports, 2012 will have 302 events in 26 sports and expected competing athletes will be around 10,500.
Modern technology in hand and with over a billion TV viewers, this Olympics promises to be a fantastic event with mind boggling opening ceremonies. It may not match the absolutely magnificent show of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But when you have Oscar award winning Director Danny Boyle as the director of two years in the making, 41.7 million dollars opening ceremony extravaganza, named "Isles of Wonders", expect a wonderfully different show. It will showcase the island culture of UK and promises to be quirky, entertaining and at times oh so British, with guaranteed rain, horses, chicken and sheep celebrating the beautiful English countryside. The ceremony will open with the sound of the largest tuned bell in Europe. Of course you can expect pyrotechnics in plenty, including a rocket man entry. Famous celebrities like Paul McCartney will be part of the opening ceremony. The most famous celebrity will be Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State of the host country. The parade of participating nations also promises to be spectacular.
The Olympic torch symbolic of Olympian ideals of respect, excellence and friendship has been borne by many celebrities and people from all walks of life. The lighting of the cauldron will signal the commencement of the 2012 Olympics.
Cost of 2012 Olympics
The 2008 Olympics held in Beijing cost a stupendous 45 million dollars and it was a magnificent extravaganza. There is no way it can be matched and in the present economic scenario, lower budgets are called for. Figures have been flying like sharp missiles and everyone has been moaning about the high costs and budget overrun. But then this is the Olympics and no less. The bid was 5 million dollars and it is now anticipated to be over 15 million dollars. The British tax payer is not too happy about this. Despite sponsorship, it is the huge infrastructural, transport and security costs which are pushing budgets. How much can tourism contribute to lessening the burden will be known only after the games are over? Media coverage is also expected to be a huge revenue earner. Plaudits, state that if Britain puts up a good show, it proves to the world that Britain is a good economic partner and it will attract investors and business. Can Britain reverse the history of host nations running into debt that took years to pay off? Time will tell.
Keenly awaited at the 2012 Olympics - Human skill and endurance
The ultimate interest at the Olympics will be human skill and how far an athlete can push the boundaries and beat existing records. Events range from archery, running, swimming, gymnastics, football, beach ball etc. and even a non sports person will take an interest in the Olympics which is after all human drama at its most exciting.
Second is the friendly rivalry between countries for top position in the medal tally. The world will be eagerly anticipating whether China, after its outstanding performance at the 2008 games, will pip USA at the highest medal winner post.
The central figure at the Olympics is of course the athlete. Some athletes become international figures and there is a keen interest in their performances at the 2012 Olympics.
One such athlete who needs no introduction is American swimmer Mark Phelps.
He has a medal tally of 16 medals in two Olympics. Can he win three more medals and become the highest medal winner. Watch out for him.
Young 17 year's old American swimmer Missy Franklin is aiming to be the first women American swimmer to win 7 medals.
America has always had it good in the swimming discipline, but China is catching up fast. This should give viewers and sports lovers some great performances to watch.
American Kayla Harrison has overcome her own personal problems and hopes to land the first Judo gold medal for her country.
Olympic gold medal winner, Chinese sprinter and hurdler Liu Xiang will be returning after a gap of eight years and hopes for a repeat winning performance.
In Gymnastics Russia will be keen to redeem itself and take back its crown. Can America prevent that?
Jamaican sprinter Beijing Olympic medalist, Usain Bolt is looking forward to creating Olympic history by winning the 100 and 200 meters sprint events at consecutive games. However, he has strong competition from his compatriot, Yohan Blake who has scored recent victories over him. They are sure to scorch the track.
Tennis set in beautiful Wimbledon will naturally be all about the Williams sisters. Will they carry away the Olympic titles also? Serena is a strong contender and could re write history if she wins the single and doubles titles after her sister won them in Sydney.
The host country Britain is hoping to better its 2008 win of 47 medals. All hopes are on Andy Murray who recently lost the Wimbledon singles title. If he wins he will end the draught from 1924 for Britain in tennis singles.
Another exciting and interesting event to watch will be First Olympic Women's boxing event. Favorites Indian MC Mary Kom and Ireland's Katie Taylor will face fresh American entrants. Will the new blood prevail?
NBC in partnership with Storify offers worldwide coverage with live streaming through its 10 TV station websites and also on Today.com. NBC is also partnering with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites. Coverage will be 24x7 and live. Times Warner Cable and NBC Universal offers you multiplatform digital coverage (TV, mobile, tablets etc) and for the first time in 3D.
People love pomp and splendor right from times immemorial. Ancient Greece with its games, Rome and its public spectacles of gladiators sport, races etc, are continued in today's Olympics. 2012 London Olympics promises to be one great pageant right from the opening ceremony, the athletic and sporting events, human interest stories and achievements, right up to the closing ceremony. So sit back and enjoy the games and celebrate humanendeavour. It is your story also.