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Gambian imam prays for successful Olympics as athletes arrive in London

Jul 26, 2012, 1:41 PM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s UK correspondent

As athletes from around the world started arriving in London and in the countdown in the final weeks of the Games, Bai Cham, a respected Gambian imam, has called on worshippers to be always law-abiding and stay away from any form of ‘illegality and wrong-doing’.

Addressing his congregation during the Friday prayers not far away from the Olympic venue, attended by this correspondent, Imam Cham, in an emotional speech amongst others emphasized the importance of ‘respecting’ other people, ‘tolerance’ and the avoidance of ‘arrogance’. 

During the past few days, there have been reports in various newspapers, magazines and the different TV networks all stressing the importance of the Games, and also highlighting the pros and cons of hosting the Games.

 Even though some of the reports are described as ‘not palatable’, most commentators maintained that ‘such open debates are the way of life of the British people’, and thus it is important for everyone to contribute and express their opinion.

Despite such criticism, the UK Olympic body has also promised ‘safe and secure Games for everyone’, following the so-called ‘security guards fiasco’.

The debacle took place after a well-known security firm called G4S admitted to Commons Home Affairs Committee that there was a ‘shortage of staff’.

It is interesting to note that the G4S Chief Executive agreed with MPs on live national television that his company’s performance was a ‘humiliating shambles’, and said he regretted signing the multi-million pounds contract to supply 10,400 security staff.

As a result of such defects, the police were called upon along with some members of the military for support during the Games.

The Point gathered that an extra 3,500 troops were drafted just last week to beef up security. The head of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, who already arrived in London, announced that he is ‘confident on security’.

Despite such assurance, many observers are not convinced with other circumstances resulting in some suggesting that there is ‘rampant commercialism’ of the Games by big corporations and that ‘ordinary people will not benefit’.

Notwithstanding, everyone is excited with the Games, and even Prime Minister David Cameron had asked for ‘permission’ to jog through one of the main Olympic 2012 venues, and for his wife and children to cycle through it. Unfortunately, his permission was reportedly not granted.

Despite condemnation from certain quarters, thousands of jobs were created and telephone numbers provided for job applicants to apply. The Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, said: ‘Hundreds of Hackney people already have jobs that will be vital to the success of London 2012, but there are many more opportunities available…’

Whatever the case, The Point will update its readers as the Games unfold.