Global Politics

Londoners facing prospects of major disruptions as Olympic games near

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This poster tries to gently remind London residents that things could get a bit crowded when visitors to the Olympics Games descend on the city this summer. (Poster courtesy of Get Ahead of the Games.)

London is slowly, but surely giving itself away to the great, grand and possibly overwhelming spectacle of the Summer Olympics.

Those who live here are being told to be ready to welcome the world. But they are also being warned it could be more than a little inconvenient.

First, the health authorities are asking for lots of blood. Now. They say they need stocks to be 30 percent higher than normal before the Games begin. There are some worries about increased demand.

If that wasn’t disquieting enough, there’s word that the military wants to place anti-aircraft missile batteries on top of some people’s homes.

The first Olympics held after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Salt Lake City Winter Games were a high security operation. There's no question that security is necessary, but the homeowners facing the prospect of missiles on their roofs must be losing some of the Olympic spirit.

This was always going to be a tricky business, staging the Olympics in London with its jumble of narrow, winding lanes and residents who often grumble about rules. It will not come close to resembling the Beijing games in order and efficiency, and I suspect many would think that is a good thing.

But just try asking a Londoner about that at the height of the events when many will realize the glories of sport are overshadowed by the horrors of traveling on the “Tube” — London’s subway system.

Transport officials are doing their best to get the word out with posters making light of the coming crush of people. They are estimating there could be 3 million extra journeys each day on a system that often struggles with the usual daily load of 12 million. Walk, ride your bike or be prepared to wait, they say.

While it may be a hassle for commuters, spare a thought for the poor delivery driver trying to get that load of beer to the pub, or fresh linens to the hotels housing visitors.

Transport officials are urging the drivers to rework their schedules, making their deliveries in the dead of night when London’s roadways won’t be quite so clogged. And if they agree, then they’re being given a “code of practice” for their night calls.

Among the code’s suggestions: use newer and quieter vehicles, don’t shout or whistle and please don’t blow your horn!

When you’re done, please close the truck’s doors quietly.

Similar noise restrictions won’t likely be imposed on the 4,000 extra flights expected to land in London. Keep calm, as they say and carry on.

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