WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama congratulated British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday for hosting an “extremely successful” Olympic Games in London.
The warm statement was a sharp contrast to the barbed comments Obama’s Republican rival in the November elections, Mitt Romney, made about the Games during a visit to the British capital to attend the opening ceremony.
Obama called Cameron “to congratulate him and the people of the United Kingdom and London on an extremely successful Olympic Games, which speaks to the character and spirit of our close ally,” the White House said in a statement as the games came to a close.
The Americans cemented their place on top of the medal table at the end of the Games — with a total of 104 medals, including 46 gold medals — ahead of China’s 38 gold medals, while Britain finished third in the standings with 29 gold medals.
Obama and Cameron “commended the exceptional performances by both the Olympic teams of the United States and Great Britain and noted how proud we all are of them,” the statement said.
“The president thanked the prime minister for hosting so many US athletes and fans and for the extremely warm welcome shown to First Lady Michelle Obama.”
Romney kicked up a small diplomatic storm with his remarks about London’s Olympic preparations after arriving in Britain on the first stop of an international tour designed to showcase his diplomatic skills.
Within hours of landing, NBC television broadcast an interview in which the Republican said it was “hard to know just how well” the Olympics would turn out and that there were “a few things that were disconcerting.”
He even questioned the British Olympic spirit, adding: “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
Cameron duly responded with what appeared to be a veiled attempt to belittle one of Romney’s crowning achievements, his rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City from financial ruin.
“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” the British prime minister said. “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”