Monday, July 30, 2012

The Olympics

Not a fan. Sorry.

Firstly, the good: The opening ceremony was fantastic, and was exactly what it should have been. In light of Beijing, and our utter and obvious inability to outdo them in terms of sheer spectacle, it was absolutely the right decision to take the ceremony in a completely different direction. And it was good. I particularly enjoyed both the "Bond" segment and the "Mr Bean" segment.

I also don't object particularly to the spend. It is, generally speaking, right that the UK bid for events of this sort, and that does indeed mean bringing the Olympics to London and, potentially, the World Cup to England. Fair enough. (Although, that said, if the bidding process is corrupt, as I think we must suspect, we should be declining to take part, and very noisily highlighting that corruption. But that's another issue.) And, of course, having won one of these events, we really need to "do it right"... even if with hindsight, I think we would have preferred Paris had had this one.

And I don't really object to the sporting side of the event, although as I've mentioned before, I'm uncomfortable with the way our sporting elite also tends to be our economic elite. I'm also rather uneasy with the emphasis that we place on sport in the first place - we idolise our athletes, our footballers, our (well, England's) cricketers, Andy Murray... but, really, is that where we should be putting our attention? Where are the "math Olympics"? Where are the ultra-high profile celebrations of engineering talent, or industry, or, yes, the NHS and education?

But that's not what really hacks me off...

What really hacks me off is that we have utterly ruined our major sporting events by letting the sponsors get their hands on them, and we have also allowed these extra-national bodies (the IOC and FIFA) far too much power to dictate terms to host nations. Frankly, we should have told them to sod off a long time ago, and if the demands were a necessary prerequisite for hosting the event, then we should not have signed up in the first place.

So, to host the Olympics we required a special law, controlling the use of various Olympics-related terms for advertising purposes, and over and above the normal trademark, copyright, and IP protection laws (which are already draconian)? Sod off. To host the Olympics, we require special lanes set aside in an already-congested London road system (which then cannot be used by the citizens of this country who paid for and own the damn things in the first place)? Sod off. To host the Olympics, we need to disrupt a multitude of already-struggling small businesses, to suit the already-ultra-rich sponsors? Sod off.

The monetary price of the Olympics was high, but was acceptable. But the undignified crawling to the IOC (even if the process actually was fair), the unreasonable acquiescence to their demands, and especially the disgusting suspension of the normal rule of law?

Yeah, that's unacceptable. Not a fan. Sorry.

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