London 2012: How the world saw the Olympic Games

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A general view of the stadium as a union jack is formed during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Image caption,
The closing ceremony that followed the 16 days of competition was watched in the Olympic Stadium by the 10,000 athletes and 80,000 spectators

With the London 2012 Olympics over, how have the Games been judged around the world? Here is a round-up of verdicts.

World reaction

David Segal, New York Times: "The Games have hit this country like an extra-strength dose of a mood-enhancing drug. The question being asked here now is whether this national euphoria can last or, better yet, lead the country out of its recent economically driven malaise. Perhaps, as one writer for The Guardian wrote, the Games will 'mark the end of Britain's age of decline'."

Ma'ariv, Israel: "The London 2012 games have been all that an Olympics can be: A celebration of all that is good, beautiful, uniting and gladdening."

People's Daily, China: "From the wrong national flag being hung for the North Korean women's football team in the women's football group match before the opening ceremony, to losing keys to Wembley Stadium; from no toilets at the basketball hall to one baffling penalty decision after another..."

Dawn's editorial, Pakistan: "To the credit of the organisers, the Games were kept incident-free and, for once, politics and terrorism took a backseat as the world focused on the triumphs and tears of sport."

Philip Hersh, Chicago Tribune: "In summing up London 2012, the temptation is to deliver a panegyric. Such a discourse, filled with lofty expressions of praise, would reflect the ancient roots of the 17-day festival that ended here Sunday. The praise also would reflect accurately how London performed in its third go-around as an Olympic Summer Games host. Brits no longer have an empire on which the sun never sets. But they managed to keep it shining on these Olympics most of the time after having endured months of ceaseless rain. God apparently was interested in saving more than the Queen, who made a sky-diving entry to the opening ceremony."

Beppe Severgnini, Corriere Della Sera: "These Olympics have been a success for Great Britain. Bolt, Boyle, Bond, Brenda and Mr Bean: all the champions took to the field, no-one disappointed!"

Anthony Faiola, Washington Post: "Urged on by massive home crowds and a cheerleading press that defied predictions of Olympic cynicism, British athletes ran, cycled and rowed their way to their highest medal count since Britannia ruled the seas in 1908. At these Games, the United States and China might be coming home with more gold, but this country of 62 million roughly the size of Michigan reminded itself of its uncanny ability to punch above its weight."

Deniz Gokce, Aksam, Turkey: "The Olympic Park was established foolishly. Some of the facilities were old and bad... Even a channel like the BBC - which is meant to be international - was not very much interested in things other than the races won by the Brits. I think Sydney and Beijing were more successful in their organisation of the Olympics,"

Lisa Dillman, LA Times: "Little went wrong for the organisers, who had dealt with a steady dose of gloom in the run-up to the Olympics, pessimistic predictions of gridlock and transport nightmares. Those fears never quite materialized. Not only that, but Britain was treated to a hugely successful series of performances by its athletes."

Greg Baum, Sydney Morning Herald: "London, you didn't half do a decent job. These Olympics had Sydney's vibrancy, Athens's panache, Beijing's efficiency, and added British know-how and drollery. With apologies to Sydney, they might just represent a new PB [personal best] for the Olympics. They were superbly organised. The Olympic Park's setting, in one of Britain's poorest boroughs, proved inspired. Some Olympic sites become wasteland after the Games. This one began as wasteland and is now full of possibilities."

The Australian: "As awful as it is to admit, London 2012 was bigger, slicker, almost as friendly and more thoughtfully planned than Sydney in terms of the legacy it will leave the host city. As the post-mortems begin on how London compares with other Games in terms of crowd numbers, finances, sporting excellence and that beast of many faces called "legacy", there is one simple indication of the success of the past two weeks. That is the feeling of surprise among ordinary Londoners and people close to the Games that after all that anticipation and all their doubts, they had pulled it off so well. It is not a sense of 'We told you so', more one of 'My god, we actually did it!'"

David Leggat, New Zealand Herald: "Hats off to the Lord Coe and his Locog planning chums. They can put their feet up knowing London did itself, and the Olympics, proud. If you are of a nit-picky disposition, you could take issue here and there, but there will always be hiccups no matter how well laid the plans for an event of this scale. Standing at Stratford train station, beside the entrance to the Olympic Park, for 40 minutes in the rain is not inclined to lead one to magnanimous thoughts. But these were good Games. Security was solid and much of the sport was terrific."

Times of India: "At the end of a three-hour ceremony, the Olympic flame was ceremoniously extinguished, marking the end of the 17-day sporting extravaganza which saw many Olympic and world records being re-written and many new heroes emerging. US and China predictably emerged as the powerhouses by taking the first and second spots in the medals tally while hosts Britain produced their best-ever show to take the third position."

China Daily: "Despite concerns about the creaky transport system and a shortfall of private security guards, which forced the government to call in thousands of extra troops to help screen visitors, the Games have passed by fairly trouble-free. A furore over empty seats at several Olympic venues blew over, especially once the track and field showcase kicked in and drew capacity crowds for virtually every session. Even the weather improved as the Games wore on. Bright sunshine has graced the closing weekend of a festival that has helped to lift spirits in Britain."

UK reaction

Bernadette McNulty, Daily Telegraph: "Not to take anything away from the jaw-dropping sportsmanship and flawless organisation of these Olympics but I think some of the incredible atmosphere of these games has been down to the British love of and skill at enjoying a party. We brought our festival spirit en mass to Stratford to turn it into a kind of Glastonbury of sport."

Cahal Milmo and Jerome Taylor, The Independent: "After 16 days of sporting heroism which made London the centre of the world, the curtain fell on the Olympics last night with a display of exuberant - at times anarchic - revelry that had but one message: 'Goodbye world, we hope you had as good a time as we did. Now let's dance.'"

David Pilditch, Daily Express: "A Great British celebration crowned a magnificent fortnight which has put a proud host nation on top of the world. Our greatest team of athletes led from the front, winning an astonishing 29 gold medals - Britain's biggest haul in more than 100 years. But it was ordinary British people who turned London 2012 into an unprecedented spectacle with their passion and generosity of spirit."

Jan Moir, Daily Mail: "In the chaos of the opening numbers, where vehicles covered with newsprint drove around the track for no good reason and Timothy Spall dressed up as Churchill and shouted at everyone, viewers could be forgiven for wondering, did this really represent the country we fell in love with all over again during London 2012?"

Richard Williams, Guardian: "So much about the reality of London 2012 seemed surprising, even unprecedented. Some of us had thought Britain probably retained the capacity to host another Austerity Games, with a small budget and reduced expectations, like the one in 1948, but harboured doubts about what we might accomplish with the temptation of unlimited resources. Such fears now seem small-minded in the light of an event that began with an explosion of goodwill and never lost its capacity to charm and to amaze."

Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator: "Normally, government chokes the life out of any arts project it takes on and I'd expected the Olympic Stadium ceremonies to be the Millennium Dome Live. How wrong I was. The gathering of the thousands of athletes reprised the theme of the opening ceremony: that this is about people, not a massive Chinese-style display of state power."


A White House spokesman said: "President Obama called Prime Minister Cameron today to congratulate him and the people of the United Kingdom and London on an extremely successful Olympic games, which speaks to the character and spirit of our close ally. Both leaders commended the exceptional performances by both the Olympic teams of the United States and Great Britain and noted how proud we all are of them. The president thanked the prime minister for hosting so many US athletes and fans and for the extremely warm welcome shown to First Lady Michelle Obama."

Russian ambassador to the UK, Aleksander Yakovenko, speaking to news channel Rossiya 24, said: "Our opinion is that there were more pluses than minuses in the Games and their organisation, and the assessments given by President Putin when he was here in London and took part in a number of events still stand. In a word, it was not bad. What impressed everyone, what was really moving, was of course the work of volunteers. They were very welcoming, very professional, and always tried to help literally everyone throughout the city."


Former Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe: "Can't believe it's all over. This has been one of the greatest Olympic Games. Well done to all the volunteers and athletes."

Tom Newton Dunn, political editor at the Sun newspaper: "The lights are going out all over East London, we will not see them lit again. But we will always remember the greatest ever Olympics."

Comedian David Schneider: "Well, I've never felt such simple pride in being British. Team GB! Locog! Sir Daniel Boyle! London! You put on one hell of a meeting!"

Piers Morgan, CNN broadcaster: "What a Games! Congrats to everyone involved - athletes, police, volunteers, armed forces, and yes, even the politicians. #PrideOfBritain"

Comedian Simon Pegg: "What a brilliant and inspiring couple of weeks. Well done to everyone involved, competitors, organisers, volunteers. Nowt but love for ya.xx"

Neil McCormick, Daily Telegraph music critic: "Blur, The Specials & New Order played a gig in London tonight. Meanwhile the Olympics put on a Best of British with Jessie J & Take That."

Comedian and broadcaster Stephen Fry: "Waaaaah - sobbing like a baby. Dear oh dear. Seb for next president of the IOC. If not General Secretary of the UN #2012closingceremony."

Commons Speaker's wife Sally Bercow: "Terrific fortnight cheering #teamGB & developing #armchairexpertise in all Olympic sports. Above all, your Twitter commentary made it! Thx x"