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."