It’s do or die before London Olympics
Couples thinking of tying the knot this summer at St. John's Church in Stratford, at the heart of the Olympic Park area, or families wanting to hold funerals for loved ones there may have to think again.
Theater reservations are down for July and August, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theater company is considering closing its West End shows, including “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Phantom of the Opera,”during the games.
Restaurant owners fear massive traffic jams will mean a loss of business. They also wonder how food deliveries will be affected by the expected gridlock on the roads, said Richard Bradford, chairman of the British Restaurant Association and owner of two central London restaurants.
He said he is not expecting a bumper summer despite the huge number of visitors to the first Olympics in London since 1948.
“Big events don’t tend to mean more trade,” he said. “During the royal wedding weekend, we were down by 50 percent.
“I have two restaurants in Covent Garden, and a preparation kitchen across the river,” he added.
“We don’t know if we will be able to get across town from one to the other. We can’t plan ahead if we don’t know what we’re planning for, but you can’t just leave perishable goods on the pavement.”
The subway system, popularly known as “the Tube,” could be overwhelmed with an estimated 3 million extra journeys a day during the games, officials said.
Transport for London, the body that oversees public transportation in the city, has warned that the Canary Wharf station in the city’s financial district will be able to cope only if 60 percent of workers stay home.
Londoners planning to get out of town could make neat profits by renting out their homes. With average rent for the entire period of the Olympics at $6,650 for a double room, Londoners could make a total of $2.5 billion, according to Wimdu.
Residents of Hackney, near the Olympic Stadium in northeastern London, are more excited about renting out their apartments than in following the athletic competitions, said Chris Main, 39, a university lecturer from New Jersey who has lived here for 20 years. He has tickets for Olympic basketball and will be staying in town.
“I’m excited about the cultural Olympiad as well as the sports,” he said, referring to the festival of theater, art and music running alongside the games.
“Lots of money has been invested in arts and cultural heritage. … I am seeing cafes opening and derelict buildings being done up.”
Leslie Fabello, 30, a marketing executive also originally from New Jersey, has lived in London for eight years and predicts the British will be able to carry off the Olympics with amazing pomp and circumstance, “like they did with the royal wedding and the queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.”
“I think it will be fantastic,” she said. “I am disappointed because I applied for tickets, including the most expensive ones, and didn’t get any. Then I applied to be a volunteer, and I never heard back from them. But I’ll be watching on TV and will try to go to some of the free events like road cycling.