Olympic Games a great moment for UK, says David Cameron

 

David Cameron dismissed concerns that Britons might not be behind the Olympics today, saying the Games were a great moment for the UK to come together.

The Prime Minister said the enthusiasm which had greeted the torch relay over the last two months showed they were not a London Games, not an England Games, but a United Kingdom Games.

His comments came after US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said there were "disconcerting" signs ahead of the Olympics and questioned whether the British people were behind the event.

Mr Cameron said: "Let's put our best foot forward, we're an amazing country with fantastic things to offer. This is a great moment for us, let's seize it."

Speaking in front of the Olympic Stadium where tomorrow's opening ceremony promises to be the greatest show on earth, Mr Cameron said: "The worries we all have are the great hopes and fears.

"Our fingers are crossed for everything from the events to the weather to the transport infrastructure and everything else.

"But, from where I stand, I think we're set for a really remarkable few weeks for Britain, when we welcome the world, say this is a great country to come, enjoy the Olympics, but also think of all the other things we've got to offer."

He went on: "Of course, this is a time of some economic difficulty for the UK, everybody knows that.

"But look at what we're capable of achieving as a nation, even at a difficult economic time.

"In terms of the country coming together, I think the torch relay really demonstrates that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games, this is a United Kingdom Games."

The Olympic flame will pass through the grounds of Buckingham Palace later, witnessed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Trafalgar Square, Downing Street and the West End a day before its 70-day, 8,000-mile journey comes to a close.

Mr Cameron went on: "I think we'll show the whole world not just that we've come together as a United Kingdom, but also we're extremely good at welcoming people from across the world."

He said he had "great hopes" for Team GB, saying its spirit was amazing with "so many medal hopes across so many different sporting endeavours".

The Prime Minister admitted that last night's flag mix-up which angered the North Korean women's football team was unfortunate and should not have happened, but warned that the episode should not be over-inflated.

"This was an honest mistake, honestly made, an apology has been made and I'm sure every step will be taken to make sure these things don't happen again," he said.

The North Korean women's team staged a protest ahead of their match with Colombia after the flag of their sworn enemy South Korea was wrongly shown on a big screen at Glasgow's Hampden Park stadium.

The players walked off the pitch and delayed the match by an hour.

Taking personal responsibility for the security of the Games, Mr Cameron admitted there were lessons to be learned from the shambles which saw private firm G4S fail to provide enough guards and the number of troops boosted to 18,200.

But he insisted the military, police, intelligence services and security guards were all working together.

"Anything that you put on inevitably has the danger of attracting bad people who want to do bad things, and Britain gets targeted by those people, as other countries do as well," he said.

"As Prime Minister, I feel that is an area I should take personal responsibility for.

"The biggest concern has always got to be a safe and secure Games - that matters more than anything else."

Earlier, Barack Obama's Republican challenger Mr Romney expressed doubts over the Games on US television.

"It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," he told NBC News.

He also called into question whether the British people were behind the Games.

"Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin," he said.

Elsewhere, the travel problems that look set to plague the Games continued with the Heathrow Express rail service temporarily shutting down, causing travel problems for passengers flying into the capital on the eve of the Olympics.

But Mr Cameron, who travelled to the Olympic Park on the Jubilee line, said that overall the public transport system was holding up well.

People have to be prepared for some difficulties when one of the busiest cities in the world is hosting the Olympics, he said.

Efforts to keep the highlights of tomorrow's £27 million opening extravaganza secret were also stepped up, with footage of last night's dress rehearsal removed from YouTube.

Some bookmakers have closed betting on Sir Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, being chosen to light the Olympic Flame at the opening ceremony.

Mr Cameron said that after seeing some presentations on the ceremony he believed the audience would experience some "spine-tingling" moments.

The ceremony has yet to sell out, with tickets still available for more than £1,500.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project