Israeli flag raised at London's Olympic Village 390.
(photo credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters)
LONDON – It has been a bad couple of weeks for the London Olympics ahead of its
grand opening ceremony, set to take place this Friday.
The government has
had to call up 1,200 soldiers after organizers admitted serious security flaws,
and airport workers have threatened to go on strike just as tens of thousands of
Olympians and tourists are set to fly in.
From an Israeli or Jewish point
of view, the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to hold a moment of
silence for the victims of the Munich Massacre has put a damper on some of the
All this and more has provided plenty of ammo for local
Olympic skeptics, who thought holding the games – which have a price tag of £9.3
billion – in London was a daft idea in the first place.
But over the past
couple of days, help seems to have arrived from an unexpected quarter: the
After a couple of miserable months that included the wettest
June on record – even by the standards of this famously overcast nation – the
sun finally came out in all its glory to shine a bright light on England.
Temperatures on Wednesday hit a season-high 31ºC in Hyde Park, where scores of
sunbathers lazed on the green lawns under a clear, blue sky.
Telegraph, in hyperbole typical of the British press, triumphantly declared the
UK “warmer than the Sahara.” In fact, the relative heat was a bit too much for
the country’s notoriously tardy trains.
Greater Anglia, whose lines
connect the capital with the northeast, told commuters the heat had caused
Still, almost all agreed it was better basking in the sun
than hiding under an umbrella from the rain.
Hordes of people crowded the
parks and open spaces of central London. At Trafalgar Square, dozens of people
cooled off in the fountains underneath the statue of Lord Nelson, and at nearby
Green Park, just across from Buckingham Palace, it was difficult to find a patch
of empty grass to claim. A line stretched a few dozens of meters from a lorry
(as vans are locally called) whose owner was making a small fortune selling
cones filled with vanilla ice cream and chocolate flakes to parched
“It just cleared now after months of absolutely terrible
weather,” said Charlotte Cooke, one of the many Britons who lay in the shade of
the park’s ancient oak trees. “It is pretty incredible. I hope it
But like all good things, it probably won’t.
the moment predict it will remain warm for the rest of the week, though there is
also a strong likelihood of a downpour on the day of the opening ceremony,
according to the BBC.
Of course, for residents of Israel, where
sweltering heat and tortuous humidity are a guarantee well into October, the British obsession with the weather might seem strange.