Before going to London for Olympic games I was reading a lot of complains by locals about it – road closers, traffic, crowds in the city and etc. Actually it made me even more keen to visit London to see it during the games. I visited London exactly two years ago in August so it should be easy to see the difference. I thought it will be really busy city because it was very difficult to get at least couple tickets and I expected to see a lot of visitors from different countries especially since London is maximum couple hours to fly from any country in Europe.
Is it really so busy? I spent a week in London and didn’t see much difference comparing with August, 2010. It was some road closures during cycling events, but it was enough information about it and people could plan their trip in advance. Of course it was very busy at Stratford station in the East London where Olympic park is located, but overall tube journeys were up 5% only and except peak hours I didn’t feel anything unusual. OK, it was something unusual – it was almost no any delays during my visit though I used tube/DLR/buses extensively. I think it was too much of paranoia before even Olympic games started and the center of London was abandon by locals. Owners of stores/restaurants in the Central London started complaining about lack of costumers – locals are not coming because of fear it will be very busy in the city, tourists who are not interested in sport didn’t come either because of that and are skipping London during games.
There is one more group of people which didn’t come to London. That is group of tourists who would love to see the games but they didn’t come because they couldn’t get tickets to any of events. When I did have difficulties to get tickets I thought it is very anticipated games and I was OK with that, but it made me angry when I read this article in “London evening standard”. It complaints that only 30000 tickets are sold for Britons in the stadium during 100 meters final. But wait. There are total 80000 seats in the Olympic stadium: 30000 (37.5%) tickets are for Britons, 20000 (25%) seats are reserved for the “Olympic family” (including British officials) and what we have left? 30000 (37.5%) tickets for the rest of the world? Half of tickets available for public are sold to locals and you are complaining about it? Sorry, what is population of the UK? 63 millions? I won’t be looking to the world population, lets just take 750 millions people who lives in Europe. Which means in UK lives less then 8.5% population of Europe, but you are taking 50% of tickets and still complaining about it?
I was lucky to get at least couple tickets, but I was sorry for Australian guy I met in London who wasn’t able to buy any tickets. All tickets available to public are sold online, but you can’t buy it if your credit card’s billing address is outside EU. Organizers are putting more tickets for sale but who can buy it at last minute? Even if you live in UK you can’t make it to the morning session next day except the ones who live in London.
So Londoners don’t even dare complain about the Olympic games as nobody is invading your city. Games are made for you and only(mostly) for you and if there are some traffic jams or crowds in the Tube stations it is probably your neighbors are travelling.