Londoners untouched by Olympic spirit

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.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Wesley Botton
Wesley Botton works from Johannesburg. Watches people run, jump and throw. Can juggle three apples and count to 10 in four languages. Chief sports reporter for The Citizen newspaper. My views Wesley Botton has over 3707 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Journey through anxious Joburg

A new book has collected writing about the condition of living, yes, with a high crime rate, but also other, more pervasive existential urban stresses particular to the Global South

Extract from ‘The Journey’: Responses to the archive

This sequence of texts was written in response to various photographs of Nigeria made between 1920 and 1929 that form part of the Colonial Office photographic collection

Review: The eternal splendour of ‘Lovers Rock’

Steve McQueen’s ‘Lovers Rock’, part of the ‘Small Axe’ anthology, is an ethereal interlude that takes us inside the blues party bubble

‘Ghost’ flights are yet another example of our polluting ways

Due to covid-19, there are aeroplanes jetting about with few, if no passengers in them, which means those planes are releasing unnecessary greenhouse gases that will trap heat and warm this planet for decades to come

African countries aren’t borrowing too much: they’re paying too much for debt

African governments are issuing and listing their Eurobonds on established international debt markets – usually London and Irish Stock Exchanges

Mending broken Nigerian talent

Young footballers in Nigeria often struggle to get the specialised healthcare they need

Subscribers only

Dozens of birds and bats perish in extreme heat in...

In a single day, temperatures in northern KwaZulu-Natal climbed to a lethal 45°C, causing a mass die-off of birds and bats

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

More top stories

ATM withdrawal halts no-confidence vote against the president

The party wants the court to rule on the secret ballot issue first, with the case set to be heard in early February

Ruling deals crushing blow to zero-hours contracts

Ferrero factory workers have won the first battle in what might become one of South Africa’s next wars on casual and precarious work

Eusebius McKaiser: Mpofu, Gordhan caught in the crosshairs

The lawyer failed to make his Indian racist argument and the politician refused to admit he had no direct evidence

Corruption forces health shake-up in Gauteng

Dr Thembi Mokgethi appointed as new health MEC as premier seeks to stop Covid-19 malfeasance

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…