Among those concerned about the reputation damage is marathon record holder and former Olympic team member Paula Radcliffe, who wrote on Twitter that the riots showed the "the country at its very worst."
In a separate post, she said: “In less than 1 year we welcome the world to London, and right now the world doesn't want to come.”
“A bloody disgrace, a minority of hooligans are sending out bad message for the rest of the country. World eyes 2012!" wrote Dame Kelly Holmes, a double Olympic champion, on Twitter. "Until we get discipline and respect brought back into our society, it won’t change.”
Big business was also indignant. Steve Ridgway, chief executive at Virgin Atlantic told the Financial Times, “It is very important that we do get on top of the situation in this country. … The world needs to realise that London is a great city – not least with the Olympics less than a year away.”