* Festive Games atmosphere a year after riots
* Games volunteer finds closure, 7 years after bombings
By Avril Ormsby
LONDON, Aug 6 Huge and enthusiastic crowds at
the London Olympics are helping to dispel last year's images of
rioters rampaging through the capital, organiser Sebastian Coe
said on Monday.
"The world saw a very different London a year ago, and you
know exactly what I'm referring to," Coe told reporters on
Monday. "And I think I said at the time, it saw a London I
This time last year, parts of London were burning as rioters
ran through the streets, looting at will and randomly attacking
passers-by. Olympic officials from more than 200 countries were
in the country at the time, discussing this summer's Games.
While he studiously avoided the word 'riots', Coe was
clearly referring to the contrast between those scenes and the
festive atmosphere at the Olympics, epitomised by sports-mad
fans and thousands of enthusiastic volunteers.
"What I am seeing at the moment, and what they are seeing at
the moment is a London I do recognise now," said London-born
Coe, a double Olympic champion and chairman of the London
"And I think that for me has been a very important journey
over the last year."
Hundreds of thousands of Britons have enthusiastically
embraced the Games, spurred on by a rush of gold medals from the
national squad, Team GB. The country anticipates one of its
greatest medal hauls.
However, unemployment remains high among Briton's young,
especially in streets neighbouring the Olympic stadium in east
London. Disenchantment and lack of job prospects were among the
factors behind the riots that spread to other English cities.
The prospect of higher employment remains dim as the
economy shows little sign of recovering quickly from recession.
The Olympics are also helping some come to terms with
another traumatic event in the city's recent history.
On July 7, 2005, a day after the Games were awarded to
London, four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people in
attacks on three underground 'Tube' trains and a bus.
Andrew Hartle, an Olympic volunteer, was working as an
intensive care consultant at a London hospital at the time.
"My journey to the Games began on the 7th of July," he said.
"For most of the last seven years those two events, the
award of the Games, and the 7th of July bombings, have been
pretty inextricably linked for me, and I found the opening
ceremony just over a week ago, really quite cathartic, I found
it really gave me closure."
The ceremony, created by Oscar-winning film director Danny
Boyle, included a tribute to the victims.
"London now is known for something else - London's known for
hosting a fantastic Games," Hartle said. "And I've found that
London has changed now. People are friendly, people are talking,
the Tube is working, it's a great experience."