Can we Please Keep the Spirit?
Two weeks ago now London welcomed the world to the games of the 30th Olympiad. The opening spectacle of what is often termed ‘the greatest show on earth’ was Danny Boyle’s breathtaking theatrical piece. The opening ceremony was loved by people from every background save for a few people who failed to see the point. The genius of it was that it set the tone for what would be a brilliant Olympics, not just in terms of sport, but in terms of bringing us together as a nation behind sport.
At no point in living memory has Great Britain been so united behind a cause. For the first time in years people are coalescing around sport, around a shared belief that we are strongest when we work as part of Team GB. The effect of the games has been phenomenal socially, notably on the streets of London where I have seen daily demonstrations of a shared sense of community and not just from the diverse army of volunteers. Take for example the South Bank, where the other day I became part of a flash mob in which a brass band played ‘Hey Jude’, where a crowd of people of all nationalities and all levels of fluency in English joined together in song to relive the closing moments of the opening ceremony.
Culturally the legacy of the games will be to show Great Britain that we can achieve great things and that we are strengthened by our adaptability and diversity. The way in which London has not just taken in its stride but also reveled in the large number of Olympic tourists is a thing which we as a people are famous for, that, I believe is down to the diversity and vibrancy of London and is which is seen in most cities across Britain. Take Liverpool for example, the city with the largest China town outside of China itself; my city is a city that cherishes its colorful history coming to prominence as Britain’s gateway to the world. Here the migrant population in Liverpool has a hugely positive effect in terms of food, culture, sport and literature, adding a new dimension to life here; it makes the city more understanding.
Sport has always been an excellent example of how to break down barriers in society and regenerate lost pride in Britain. You only have to look at Manchester and the positive effect the commonwealth games had there and the positive effect those same games are already having on Glasgow to see that sport has to be part of the solution wherever there is tension in a community. The Olympic Games has already been a huge success and hopefully the Paralympics will continue the trend. The lasting legacy aside from that of the physical will be one where we renewed our belief in ourselves, our community and our pride which is something that we can cherish for generations to come.