I don’t know about you but it seems rather odd that the 2012 Summer Olympics is being held in a wonderful Kingdom that knows not summer.
I love England and the United Kingdom. I traveled extensively in the country for a three week period during the summer of 1979 and have been there a number of times since. Wonderful people, wonderful Indian food and a grand tradition of pomp ceremony and celebration of long lost empire. Back in 1979 I had the pleasure of being hosted by families across the UK. I even learned how to pronounce my last name correctly in Scotland.
I love visiting London, I can wander about the city taking in the great historical sites for weeks on end. If I had the time and money I would spend a year walking about the city and traveling around the country taking pictures and writing about every site that I visit. I would hang out in pubs and go to places that normal tourists don’t go. I would visit British friends and as I said before hang out in pubs. Since I am already banned from giving blood because of living in Europe in the 1980s due to fear of the Mad Cow I would eat lots of Bully Beef and maybe even try Haggis in Scotland.
I love the British military and have worked with the members all branches of the British Armed forces during my 31 years in the military. That being said, the mission of the military is not police work.
In spite of all my Anglophile tendencies I still wonder about the wisdom of London hosting the Summer Games. Not that I doubt the city’s warm hospitality, charm and history but rather due to its usually un-summer like summer weather. In fact I would day say that unless an athlete comes from Northern Europe or the northern coastal regions of North America, or perhaps from down under where it is currently winter that many athletes will wonder what happened to Global Warming. The weather in the U.K. is like a big version of San Francisco weather of which someone (but not Mark Twain as legend says) wrote “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Even the Queen upheld by the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury had her parade rained on, but I digress…
Land of the Soggy Summer
One of the other reasons, besides the predicted crappy English summer weather that I wonder about the selection of London is the threat of terrorism. London has been the target of more than one terrorist strike over the past number of years and a number of terrorist groups ranging from the Irish Republican Army to Al Qaida have targeted London and its citizenry.
Anti-aircraft missiles in London
Security experts around the world are concerned. There have been problems with the security firm that was to provide 10,000 guards leading to the hasty drafting of thousands of troops from the Royal Army to provide protection for event venues and the Olympic Village. Even before that the unprecedented military preparations to defend against multiple types of terrorist threats was astounding. For the first time since the Luftwaffe Blitz of the Second World War there are air defense batteries in London. Some countries such as Israel, are so concerned that they have their own security detachments watching their athletes. The fact that this is the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre of 1972 causes the Israelis additional concern.
1972 Munich Massacre
London also calls itself home to some of the most militant Islamic hate preachers in the world and was the target of a devastating terrorist strike on July 7th 2005. Those attacks were carried out by four home grown militants and killed 52 people. They would not be hard to repeat or eclipse in a city swollen with millions of visitors and more VIPs than one can shake a stick at including much of the British Royal Family.
Bombed out Train in the Tube, 2005
While the Olympic venues will receive a lot of security, soft targets including buses, trains, the famous “Tube” and large shopping and tourist areas are hard to defend. It is not unreasonable to assume that attacks will take place, and that some could be quite lethal.
Blown up Double Decker Bus from July 7th 2005 attack
Personally I want the Olympics to go off without a hitch. I want them to be a celebration of sportsmanship, competition and friendship. I want to see athletic and personal greatness displayed. I want to see records broken and underdogs to win sometimes. I want it to be like Jim McKay would say on ABC’s Wild World of Sports “the thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat… the human drama of athletic competition.” I want them to be an island of peace in a world filled by war. That being said I will be holding my breath for the next couple of weeks as the competition begins even while I cheer on the members and teams of Team USA in their quest for Olympic Gold. After all I have to channel my latent nationalism into something peaceful.
That being said. May the Olympics be blessed with good weather and no terrorist violence.