A few weeks ago, the Olympic torch passed through my home town. The entire town seemed to be out on the street to see the torch go through and there was a real buzz about being involved in something special and ‘once in a lifetime’.
There’s been a huge sense of excitement in every town and village since the torch relay started on May 19th. And in London a real buzz is growing that this event is going to be something really special – a once in a lifetime chance to showcase the UK to the world.
You wouldn’t, of course, know that if you used the popular press as a barometer of the public mood. The media seem to be desperate for something to go wrong. The collective delight of the media at some organisational issues last week was almost horrible to behold.
Just as public excitement is reaching fever pitch, the media seem determined to throw a reservoir of freezing cold water over the Olympic fever that is gripping Britain. It’s all thoroughly Meldrewesque – a corrosive media obsession that, as a country, we aren’t capable of running anything anymore.
Elements of the popular press are almost hoping for hiccups, glitches or disasters with the Games – it’s a relentless and depressing negativity that looks to belittle great national achievements.
I’m convinced that the Olympics and the UK are going to prove the miserabilists wrong.
Of course there have been problems on the way – particularly the G4S debacle – and we could be doing more to ensure the sporting legacy. But the problems of one company should not get in the way of the fact that the lead up to the Games has been a huge success.
Everything has been delivered on time and within budget – a welcome contrast to the experience of recent host cities and to the dire predictions of media pessimists.
This is the greatest showcase for the UK in my lifetime and I’ve got little doubt that it’s going to be a triumph. We can prove to the world that when we host the greatest show on earth it will be spectacular.
I’m looking forward to some tremendous displays of sporting brilliance over the next few weeks – the greatest athletes in the world reaching the peak of four years of intense preparation.
I’m also looking forward to the pessimists in the media eating their words and joining in the national celebration. It’s time for the grumps in the media to stop grumbling, discover their patriotism and start enjoying the biggest and best show that the UK will put on in their lifetime.