The 2012 Olympics: The Greatest Show on Earth

“The 2012 Games will bring hope, then euphoria”

 The Olympics offer a unique chance for everyone to be involved, says the Mayor, starting with London’s Host City Volunteer Project. 

In retrospect I think I made one false prophecy at the Beijing Olympic Games a year ago.  I said that the euphoria would soon die down, and that the memory of Team GB’s amazing success would start to fade. I predicted that public attitudes to the London Olympics would curdle, and the murmur of complaint would turn into a roar.  I warned that the press would be seized by a fit of Olympo-scepticism which would last until the Games were about to begin.
And then suddenly, just as the eyes of the world were turning to London, the mood would turn again, and the nation would be gripped by optimism and enthusiasm in 2012, just as they were in the summer of 2008.
Well, I still think the last bit is right. But I reckon I overdid my anxiety. I don’t see quite the Olympo-scepticism that I feared. In spite of all our worries about the recession, the British and especially the London public remain broadly behind the Games.
Of course we are right to be worried about the cost.  We must remain frank and ruthless in keeping the budget within the £9.3 billion envelope. But Londoners overwhelmingly understand that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are going to put on the greatest show on earth, and to use the investment to transform parts of London that have been neglected for decades.
I am determined to use these Olympics to help generate jobs, and to improve the whole city. Huge numbers of people will be making their contribution to the success of the Games, from Heathrow baggage-handlers to West End hotel staff, to those who will be helping to clean the streets in Greenwich.
We sometimes forget that the Games are not just happening in Stratford. There will be Olympic events at Wimbledon, Wembley, the O2 Arena, ExCeL, Earl’s Court and Broxbourne.  There will be the triathlon and open-water swimming in Hyde Park, the marathons and road cycle races criss-crossing London and a kind of Baywatch-meets-Canaletto scene in Whitehall, as we stage the beach volleyball on Horseguards Parade. There will be people celebrating and watching the Games across London.
In fact, we expect there will be so many relaxing in central London that we have set up a City Operations team to plan the event, and make sure that we improve the “look and feel” of the city, both in Games time and beyond.   We have much to learn here from the people of Sydney, and the exuberant welcome they offered the world in 2000. Sydneysiders grasped the opportunity of the Games.
They knew it would take over their city for a short time. Rather than fearing it, or trying to forget it, they embraced it and milked it for all it was worth.
We are going to harness the Olympics in London, and use them to drive change: more cycling, more trees, urban realm projects, championing the use of low-carbon vehicles — and that is before we have even discussed the amazing legacy transformation we plan for the Olympic Park and surrounding areas.
But there is an even greater opportunity. It is not just a question of preparing the city, and investing in our physical capital. We need to get ready ourselves. When the next host city looks back at London in 2016, I want them to feel a mixture of affection and respect.
I want them to say, “How did they do that, then?” And the answer has got to be not just that we laid on a great show, in fantastic venues. The genius of the 2012 Games will lie in the attitude of Londoners, and the welcome we lay on.
That is why we need so many volunteers. We need 70,000 to handle the Olympics directly in the venues themselves, and already we have more than three times as many applicants.
But we need to think about the city as a whole, and the visitor experience across London. That is why I am today announcing the creation of a separate corps of “Host City Volunteers”. This is a chance for anyone, young and old, who wants to be involved in the Olympics, to put themselves forward.
They will be in the frontline of London’s welcome to the world. Positioned at airports, key stations and the capital’s visitor attractions, these volunteers will provide friendly and accessible assistance of all kinds.
They will be fully trained and equipped, and they will tell the visitor how to get to the beach volleyball, or where the toilets are, or the cashpoint, or where to get a cup of coffee.
We will recruit these volunteers though a fair and transparent system, open to everyone. The recruitment process will start next year. If you are interested, there are two things you can do now. First, you can register at, so that you can be informed of all the opportunities and when the application process begins.
Second, you can think about volunteering now. There are so many reasons to do so, whether because you want to give something back to the community or because you want to keep your skills sharpened during tough economic times. Check out and see some of the opportunities available.
If you are unemployed, and interested in getting new skills which could help you into volunteering and even into work, you may be eligible to join the groundbreaking Personal Best programme on
I cannot tell you what a privilege it is for me, as Mayor, to be involved in setting up these Games. You can be, too.
Add your view

27 thoughts on “The 2012 Olympics: The Greatest Show on Earth”

  1. What a superb phrase to describe the coming Olympics – the greatest show on earth!

  2. Guy, it is pretty exciting to think of how it will be – for example, that young swimmer, Tom Daley is bound to perform better this time, and he is such a huge talent. We have so many other huge talents to look forward to.

    It must be very hard now that the credit crunch is biting, and money is being held back, but the Mayor does not seem deterred for a second, and is approaching all problems with his usual boundless enthusiasm.

  3. Well done, Boris! We have a great deal of faith in your abilities to pull through against all the odds. Maybe now the Beeb will start seeking your opinion on matters, instead of trotting out old Adenoids Ken all the time.


    The Mayor has offered the 2012 Olympic Stadium as a venue for when England hosts the 2015 World Cup. There was a plan to reduce the 80,000 seats to 25,000, but this is now on hold. If England win the bid for the 2018 Football World Cup, the seats will definitely not be reduced.

    Boris said “It adds to London’s outstanding clanedar of international sporting events – from the 2012 Olympics to the Twenty20 World Cup, the NFL in Wembley and the Tour de France Grand Depart”.

  5. Boris, you are a darling. I love your can do and you zest and love of life. You have inspired me, downloading my application

  6. In the world of high-heeled shoes [Ed: not relevant and inappropriate]

  7. The 2012 Olympics is certainly going to be an occasion to savour, and I get the feeling that Boris and his aides, including his dedicated, on the ball Media Director, Dan Ritterband, will make the very best of the occasion.

    I read an article that Dan Ritterband is determined to extend the benefits of the Olympics throughout London and as far as he can in the country, good thinking. Dan.

    Paul B, it is Boris’s unfailing optimism and positivity in the face ofany problem, including the credit crunch that wins him so many supporters. Never have we had a politician so intent on finding the opportunities in the setbacks.

  8. One sweaty jock in orange lycra can throw a lump of iron further than another sweaty jock in blue lycra. Yawn.

  9. With reference to the proposed skate board park within elthorne park in Hanwell, Ealing, w7.
    when visiting new york recently I was interested to see how they accommodated their young folk in this respect.
    Reading through their official ‘print out’ you will note the following: “As you SKATE, BIKE or Blade through the Eastgate of the MILLENIUM SKATE PARK etc. etc.” SO — that skate park is also intended for BMX BIKERS and ROLLER-BLADERS as well as SKATE BOARDERS and NO DOUBT it should be the same here. Because of the lack of a local venue such a facility will attract many participants from miles around and a SKATE / BMX / ROLLER BLADE PARK needs a much larger and more comprehensive facility than that envisaged by our local council.
    “BAY 66 SKATE BOARD PARK” is situated beneath the WESTWAY section of the A40 / M4O and makes use of an area for which little else could be used and we are fortunate enough to have asimilar site just waiting to be developed.
    The A4 / M4 at Brentford already has a BASKET BALL COURT beneath one of it’s HUGE spans and one of the next two or three spans could accommodate a SKATE / BMX / ROLLER-BLADE
    PARK incorporating all the features allowing participants in those sports to hone their skills.
    We must remember that BMX IS ALREADY a

  10. Economic Voice, good idea for Boris to come out of the Tardis, but he has missed his vocation as the next Dr. Who! Who could be more perfect for the part than Boris? Boris as Dr. Who would be a legend.

  11. There are many talented British athletes likely to be competing. For that reason alone, it will be a tremendous occasion and don’t forget, we will have the supreme showman orchestrating the greatest show on earth!

  12. It’s going to be great. We don’t need those huge formation ceremonies, we should just be ourselves and not try to emulate the vision of other countries.

  13. As we all know the cost of the Olympic Games are upper most in everybodies minds and the fear of overspending.
    We also know that architects love to spend their clients money wherever possible.

    So who is looking after the purse strings when it comes to choosing materials (especially cladding materials) for the Olympic buildings.

    For example:

    The handball ctre is to be clad with 8,000m2 of copper cladding at a cost of around £270-£300 m2. I understand that when the Olympics are over this material will be used elsewhere or should I say some of it bearing in mind the scap value is around £2000 ton.

    So why not use a material which has the same aesthetics and will save the sports comittee over £500,000 which I am sure could be usefully applied to a better end use.


  14. There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That’s a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don’t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game.

Comments are closed.