LONDON Aug 1 His booming voice fell silent for
tube travellers, but London Mayor Boris Johnson was clinging on
in the limelight on Wednesday as he got stuck on a zip wire at
an Olympic party.
The portly, helmeted mayor was pictured in his trademark
black suit and shoes, holding two Union Jack flags and calling
for a ladder in the drizzle as he dangled from the high-wire
attraction favoured by school children in London's Victoria
Park, where the Games are being shown on big screens.
"Unlike Team GB, he won't be bagging any gold medals today,"
said a spokeswoman for the mayor after the incident.
The zip wire incident earned Johnson a "trending" spot on
microblogging site Twitter. But the eccentric mayor was not the
Games' only viral offering.
Another contender was a Youtube movie of the "happiest
That film, of a Games volunteer speaking through her
megaphone to drum up excitement, has picked up nearly two
million hits - more than the 1.1 million real world visitors
expected in London as a result of the Games.
In it, a deadpan woman, apparently ignored by passers-by,
says her mouth is dry with excitement at the Games. "I believe
we're all cheering on the inside," she drones.
TAKE TO THE RAILS
Johnson's stunt followed complaints from businesses that his
exhortations to commuters to avoid Games-related hotspots on the
London Underground may have been too effective. Some sites have
said trade is down by as much as 30 percent.
A spokeswoman for Tube operator Transport for London said
the change in the mayor's messages had always been planned,
"once we were through the first major test on Monday."
Games organisers - who have said they expect visitors to
spend an extra 235 million pounds ($366.33 million) in London
and the United Kingdom during the Games - played down
suggestions that the mayor's travel warnings had prompted an
Olympics-related mini recession in the capital.
The flow of vehicles on roads in London has fallen since the
Games began as people turn to rail services to move around the
packed capital, Olympic organisers said.
Tube journeys are 7.5 percent higher than usual, national
rail services are up 5 percent, and traffic on the Docklands
rail service to east London is up 65 percent at record levels.
Road traffic in and around central London has fallen about 17
The transport system will come under increased pressure this
weekend, with vast crowds expected to turn out as athletes
compete for around 20 medals on "Super Saturday".
"That is really going to test our capacity," said Paul
Deighton, chief executive of London organisers LOCOG.