Friday, 27 July 2012

Why The London Olympics Are Bullshit

And so, after seven years of planning and one of the most ostentatious displays of hype ever seen, the London Olympics begins in earnest today with a wonderful £27m opening ceremony presided by artistic director Danny Boyle. What will follow will be a three week celebration of sport which will inspire children all over the UK to participate in healthy activity and will leave a proud sporting legacy and billions of pounds in Britain’s depleted cash reserves.


Whilst I am a fan of sport, i’m no Olympian. Too many of the events hold only marginal interest (shooting, sailing, lifting), others are far from their respective pinnacles (football, basketball, tennis). Those few events that do catch the eye largely occur on the track, but even they attract little interest other than in Olympic years – anyone follow Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis closely in the Diamond League or World Championships? Thought not.

The build up has been arduous and controversial, with typically British balls-ups seeing G4S fail miserably to mount serious security despite seven years to prepare, missiles mounted in residential areas and an endless procession of myriad torches escorted around Britain’s shopping streets by a parade of home-grown heroes like Didier Drogba and The inescapable whiff of corporatisation has seen small businesses castigated and fined for selling ‘Olympic Breakfasts’ or hosting themed nights without permission whilst juggernauts like Mars, McDonalds and Coca Cola smear their grubby paw-prints over anything they can draw five rings on.

Somebody somewhere has guesstimated that the Games will generate £13 billion for the British economy – a ludicrous made up sum which belies the fact that people will not travel here from all corners of the globe during a financial catastrophe, that border control will force them to queue until they’ve missed the Olympics anyway and that it’s cheaper to commute from France than it is to stay in London. Of course, 400,00 unsold tickets add weight to this claim – thanks largely to huge over-pricing and a ticketing process in which acquiring a ticket required the patience of Mother Teresa and the internet acumen of Bill Gates.

The legacy will leave an expensive cycling velodrome with no owners, a £500 million pound football stadium being squabbled over by Leyton Orient and West Ham and a number of other white elephant cash cows struggling to justify their existence once the greatest show on earth pootles out of town. There is absolutely no evidence to show that previous Games have led to greater participation in sport and, anecdotally, I’ve seen little evidence of kids and young adults burning their way around running tracks and long-jump pits in the build up. Save for our magnificent cycling and swimming teams, these home Games are likely to see little improvement on recent performance and little follow-up in the aftermath.

A country which has just cut 67% from the school sports budget (rising to 100% in the next few years) whilst pouring billions into hosting this elitist, bloated corporate behemoth is, frankly, a fucking disgrace. To teach us and our children to strive to achieve at the Olympics whilst destroying the foundations on which sporting spirit, ability and endeavour are built is not British at all. We have been sold a lie.

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