Londoners untouched by Olympic spirit

London residents say tourists were scared off by warnings of chaos in the city, and locals were told to stay out of the city during the Olympics. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

London residents say tourists were scared off by warnings of chaos in the city, and locals were told to stay out of the city during the Olympics. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

There were almost no signs in the city centre during the last two weeks that the global sporting showpiece, which concluded on Sunday, was taking place a few kilometres down the road.

Apart from the occasional poster on a lamppost, and Olympic memorabilia on sale in certain stores, the Games may well have been held on the other side of the world.

Barnard Brits from Pretoria, who lived in London and worked at Rand Savers, a shop that sold only South African products, said the store had attracted the same number of customers as any normal week in the bustling English capital.

"There hasn't really been more people than usual in the city," Brits said.

"There have been a few more, maybe, but not many. It has been the same as it normally is."

A Greek taxi driver, who did not want to be named, had hoped for a boost in income during the Games. But he said he had made less money than he usually would over a two-week period in the English capital.

"It has been terrible. Business has been slow. Tourists are here, but they're all in the Olympic village. They have been advised to stay out of London.

"Taxi drivers are not allowed to use certain Olympic lanes and routes, so it has restricted us as well."

Stay out of the city
John Ashton, a tour guide who was born and raised in London, agreed business had been slow, but was pleased to have experienced a quiet period during the Games.

"There has actually been less people on group tours than we would usually have," Ashton said.

"I think they scared tourists off, telling them the city would be chaotic, and they told Londoners to stay out of the city. It has been great, though, because I have not struggled once to find a place on the Tube (underground transport system) and it has been rather quiet."

Antonio Fernandez from Mexico City, who had lived in London for one-and-a-half years and worked in a Mexican restaurant, said they had fewer customers during the Games than they expected.

"We thought it would be busy, but it has been quiet," Fernandez said.

"On Saturday, after our team (Mexico) beat Brazil in the football final, it was our busiest day, but most of our customers were regulars who live in London. If you wanted to experience the Games, you had to go to the Olympic Park. It was all happening there."  – Sapa.

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