Months after bombings, London celebrates 2012 win
LONDON -- Eight weeks after winning the 2012 Olympics, London finally celebrated.
A day after London beat Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow in the IOC vote on July 6, four suicide bombers killed 52 people in attacks on the British capital's transit system. Olympic celebrations were put on hold.
"I think it is an appropriate time to be reminding people that eight weeks ago we landed the biggest prize in sport and reminding the thousands of Londoners and people throughout the UK that helped us," London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said Thursday. "We couldn't have got across the line without them."
On July 6, thousands packed Trafalgar Square to watch the vote in Singapore live on huge screens. On Thursday, the video footage was replayed in the square, while two acrobats rappelled down Nelson's Column and a 300-foot London 2012 banner was unfurled amid a flurry of ticker tape.
Children unveiled a large banner with the words "London Prepares" beneath the column, and pop singer Heather Small sang the bid anthem "Proud."
"Just as the following day [after London's win] more than 50 families were robbed of the people that they loved in the terrorist attacks on London, so too was London robbed of its continuing celebration," British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell told the hundreds gathered in the square.
"Just as forever those who lost their lives will be remembered as part of the Olympics and the Olympic dream that will take us through to 2012, so too will the fortitude, solidarity, strength and resilience of London and Londoners see us through the next seven years until the games begin in 2012."
Coe is determined to avoid the organizational delays which dogged the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Since July 6, an Olympic bill has been introduced in the British parliament, a new lottery game to raise funding has been launched, 17,500 people have offered to be volunteers during the Games and a contract was signed to put 50 electricity pylons underground.
"Don't expect to see an Olympic Stadium up after Christmas, but don't also be lulled into believing nothing is happening because right at this moment, construction is underway," Coe said. "Work has started and it's started very quickly."
Despite the festivities, the after-effects of the July 7 bombings were evident. Police and security patrolled the square, while banners proclaimed "7 Million Londoners: 1 London."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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