Monday, August 13, 2012

Olympics: a grumpy old sod sounds off . . .

Well, it’s all over bar the shouting, as they say, and I’m sure many more backs will be slapped this week as Britain congratulates itself on having staged ‘the most successful Olympics ever’ (until the next bunfight, of course). I have held off adding my two ha’porth worth because ... well, basically, I couldn’t be arsed. Good luck, of course, to all the athletes who have trained hard and had success and commiserations to all the athletes who have trained hard and haven’t had succes, and an especial mention to the doughty Saudi Arabian runner who was forced to perform more or less fully clothed, but still didn’t let that put her off. In fact, the sight of her, although last by a country mile, approaching, then crossing, the finishing line almost melted this frozen heart of mine. But it didn’t, and I shall tell you why.

Every four years we have been getting this jamboree, and every four your pompous pricks and prickettes in their hundred drone on about ‘the Olympic ideal’, ‘bringing nations together’ and similar crap, when the truth is that these days the Games primarily serve two puroposes: for the host country to show off as much as possible and stick one in the eye of its rivals, and for the successful sponsors to make as much moolah as his humanly possible in 16 days (which, in case you were wondering, is a fuck of a lot). And it is the joint offence of rancid commercialisation allied to the hypocrisy of spouting so much idealism which puts me off big time. I can’t remember which of the two cola giants ‘won the contract’ - Pepsi or Coke - but if you dared even breathe the name of the one which didn’t get that contract within ten miles of the Olympic site, you risked being sued to kingdom come. The same was true of whoever won the ‘cashpoint franchise’ (although they didn’t call it that because it doesn’t sound upbeat and life-enhancing enough). It was either Visa or Mastercard, but if your credit and debit cards were with the outfit which didn’t have the concession, you were stuffed big time. And woe betide anyone who thinks the food served up by McDonald’s is pure cack: the firm had ‘won’ the chips franchise, and if you wanted to get a packet of chips which weren’t McDonalds’, tough titties.

Then there is the cost of the whole shooting match: I have nothing against anyone wasting as much of their own money as they like, but when it is my money they decide to waste, I do get a but itchy. I think the figure for the cost of staging the Games is £10 billion for everything, but it could well be higher, and we are assured that the ‘Olympic legacy’ will balance the books and that Britain will not end up out of pocket. Well, allow me to hold fire on popping the champagne corks in celebration of such great news for a few more years yet as I am firmly persuaded hindsight is a rather more valuable guide to the truth than prediction. For one thing, no buyer has yet been found for the stadium itself.

On a personal note what did rather irk me was how everyone and his dog suddenly became an instant expert on the the intricacies of sports of which they hadn’t heard of barely five minutes earlier. And I understand China informed the Games organising committee very clearly that the could be no - repeat no - reference to Taiwan and that the Taiwanese flag could not be shown or it would boycott the Games. So there was and it wasn’t and China was good enough to grace the Games with its presence.

But I am, I know, sounding like a grumpy old cunt, so let me outline what I would like to see: I would like to see a return to something a damn sight closer to ‘the Olympic ideal’, with athletes competing for the glory of it all, not because a gold, silver or even bronze means an advertising contract with some bloody shampoo or deodorant firm which will see them rolling in money by the end of the week. I should like to see an end to the obscene multi-million opening ceremonies in which each host nation desperately tries to outshine its predecessor. And I would like to see an end to all this Olympic Village lark where we build a new bloody town which will be inhabited for 16 days. Nations should pay for the upkeep of their own athletes and lend a helping hand to those poor nations who don’t even have the resources to do that. In short, forget the bullshit razzmatazz and get back to sport.

There, I’ve had my say. Now I shall go and lie down.

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