London 2012: Olympics chief hails London as 'beating heart of the world'


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The Independent Online

Games chief Jacques Rogge has described the capital as the "beating heart of the world" after London 2012 was praised by nations across the globe.

London 2012 is on course to break attendance records, with seven million spectators at events so far and a record global TV audience.

Hosting the Olympics has also changed attitudes about Britain, with visitors paying tribute to our food and public transport.

The resoundingly positive verdict comes amid hopes that the Games will go out on a new high over the weekend.

Team GB’s 10,000 metres champion Mo Farah goes for a historic double gold in the 5,000 metres tomorrow, followed next day by the marathon.

And Sunday’s closing ceremony aims to send 10,500 athletes happily home to the sound of British acts including the Spice Girls and George Michael.

David Cameron said the “golden Games” and Team GB — with a medal haul so far of 52, including 25 golds — have “made the country so proud”.

International Olympic Committee president Mr Rogge, in his last Games as president, told the Standard: “For two weeks the Olympic park has been the beating heart of the world.

“The country that invented modern sport has helped give new life to the spirit of fair play and competition.

“In the true spirit of Britain, huge crowds have cheered on not just their athletes but those of the world and sent an echo that resonates in every home across the globe.

“The superlatives created here in London will live on long after the cauldron is finally extinguished.”

The US ambassador to London, Louis Susman, said: “The city has clearly raised the bar for others around the world seeking to host the Games.”

Boris Johnson said:“From Jess and Mo to Wiggo, Sir Chris, Bolt and Bond — sprinkle in the venues, visitors and volunteers and you have quite simply the golden Games of London 2012.

“The doom-mongers said it couldn’t be done. Well they were wrong. It was done, it was stunning and it will live long in the memory.”

London 2012 chief Lord Coe thanked the city’s people for being “perfect hosts”. He added “The Games have embraced London — and London has embraced the Games.”

Brazilian fans spoke of their hopes of following in London’s footsteps at Rio 2016. The spotlight falls on their city at Sunday’s ceremony when Mr Johnson passes the Olympic flag to his Brazilian counterpart followed by an eight-minute showcase for Rio.

Sales of London 2012 merchandise has boomed and organiser Locog is “well on track” for £1 billion in sales — a profit of £80 million.