Huzzah! In seven years they'll be playing beach volleyball at the Horse Guards Parade -- London won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics.
It's a bit sad that the marathon will finish inside the as-yet-built Olympic Stadium. I think it would have been appropriate (although, perhaps not visually exciting) to have it end in White City. The marathon gets its current 26.2-mile standard length from the 1908 Olympics when it was extended so as to end in front of the royal family's box at White City stadium*. There's a BBC building there now, which I think would also be appropriate -- the BBC is the new British Empire.
Nonetheless, I am looking forward to it. I think the choices of venue are particularly inventive. One of my favorite elements: "The Serpentine boating lake (in Hyde Park) will undergo a major clean-up so it can be used for the swimming part of the (triathlon)."
Of course, all this London Olympics stuff has an emotional connection for me because I have loosely tied my personal ambition to the city's Olympic bid. When I first read about London's bid a few years ago, I thought: "Man, wouldn't it be cool to be there for that?
"Obviously, though, it would be impossible to find a hotel amid all that, and London is expensive enough already without adding inflated Olympics prices. No, one would have to be living in Britain already. Hey, there's a good idea. I hereby pledge that if the Olympics are in London in 2012, I will be living in Britain."
I modified that pledge when it looked like Paris was going to win the bid (you'll notice that it was a shock to CNN and MSNBC, who stationed reporters in Paris). I made a simple promise to myself to be living in Britain by 2012. But my emotional attachment remained and London's success makes me now feel that I will be successful, too (that's very sappy, I know).
I am delighted by the fact that London won out over Paris specifically. The final IOC voting had the two cities head to head, and the immediate speculation in French papers (according to BBC reporters) is that Chirac's comments earlier this week about British food are what put the nail in Paris' coffin. I would like to think the IOC realized that while Paris had put forward the best bid, it is unfortunately populated by French people and therefore totally ill-suited to host an international event.
I am stupidly excited.
One thing I don't quite understand, though -- why was David Beckham involved? Apparently he is just The UK Man of Sport.
*This seems to be the consensus story from several websites, but the official website of the royal family says that it was the starting line that was extended, not the finish line.