As with London buses, you wait 60 years for an invitation to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games – and then two of them arrive almost at once. For those of us who assumed we would not live long enough to see the Olympics return to Britain, it is a pleasant surprise to read (admittedly speculative) reports that London may be asked to take on the 2016 event, such is the state of unreadiness in Rio de Janeiro.
No formal invitation has been issued. Thus far, only informal, secretive, inquiries have reportedly been made. The International Olympic Committee denies it – yet the story seems plausible. In Rio, only 10 per cent of the infrastructure is finished. It would be reasonable to explore a possible “Plan B”.
London should be flattered if it is asked if it could possibly recommission some of its stadiums. Some would be relatively easy, others not. In which case the opportunity should be taken for other parts of the UK to host some of the events. Glasgow, for example, will have had very recent experience after this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Of course, none of this is exactly likely, or even desirable. There may still be time for the Rio Games to be rescued and turned into a huge success; perhaps even the Brazilians themselves, many of whom resent the money being spent on the project on top of what it is costing to host the World Cup that starts in a month’s time, may be persuaded that it will be worthwhile.
It would certainly be a shame on so many levels if Rio really were unable to fulfil its destiny. London, then, and the rest of the country, should not connive or manoeuvre to gain a second helping of Olympic and Paralympic fever in 2016. We can be forgiven for a little limbering up, though.