London 2012: Made in Multicultural Britain


And so the summer of the most exquisite global sport ends: The London Olympic and Paralympic games. For four to five weeks more than three billion viewers have been, at times, transfixed on London’s east end to watch the unfolding drama that was these extraordinary games.

For so many reasons multicultural, multi-dynamic Britain was the biggest winners of these games. From Danny Boyle’s cultural opening extravaganza, showcasing who we are, and what we stand for, to the games themselves in which practically every walk of British life had the spotlight at one time or another. Hopefully, the Paralympic games will have changed the way we view disabled people, in a way that allows them to fulfil their full potential, in part by unshackling us able-bodied people from being embarrassed to talk about these issues without pity and a condescending manner.

The cultural and sporting success of these games perhaps forever killed the Norman Tebbitt 'cricket test' that Black people would fail if we supported our non-British birth place or our parents' birth place before Britain or England. Indeed in light of these games the journalist and broadcaster, Dotun Adebayo, will ask Lord Norman Tebbit to retract that statement. Whether he will or not doesn’t really matter - 21st century Britain is way ahead of the political curve; Africans, Asians and Caribbeans have never felt more proud to be British than during these games, but we were equally proud to be African, Asian and Caribbean too when our other nations athletes excelled.

For our political class to catch up, they need to recognise the multifaceted nature of who we are, and embrace it, moreover, they could learn the lesson of team GB: ‘if you want to be world beaters and a beacon of hope to society, unlock persistent inequalities and allow the nation's talent to flourish.’ Simple.

What occurred in the citadel of the London 2012 games could easily be adopted by our wider society…given half a chance.

Simon Woolley