I remember when the result of the winning city was announced back in 2005. I was sitting in my car with baited breath in the B&Q ‘Do It Yourself’ warehouse car park in Chiswick. Yes! I yelled when the announcement came through that the games would come to London in 2012. At the time the bid was supported by the promise of both urban renewal and reduced waste, for example, unlike other Olympic structures the stadium and village would be re-purposed.
So, it has been 7 years and the Olympics procurement ‘CompeteFor’ system has provided some business opportunities, although personally I never saw anything come.
In the UK the general view was that we’d all be able to get tickets. The reality is different, recently a news item suggested that certain tickets were being sold on the black-market by insiders ! Incidentally have you seen the extreme price of corporate packages? ‘You can still get tickets to the 100m final’ a newspaper adverts suggest. Then the small print… ‘Corporate packages are still available’ at 4 digit amounts!
Am I just a moaning mini? Shouldn’t I be feeling happy & honored that London may receive a 3 week economic boost with themed food events and concerts that can generate a feel good factor? Should I also not be excited about the Olympic torch as it travels from Shire to Shire. With regard to the latter, I have tried to get into the spirit as on Sunday 22nd July I posed with a replica torch held by Fauja Singh, the 101 year old marathon runner. The actual torch event took place on Saturday 21st July. However, sadly it was hardly featured on the news channels. The good news is that Fauja Singh and his team kindly lead the arrival parade for the annual 130 mile Birmingham to London relay run & Cycle ride. I rode rather than ran. Furthermore, whilst working from home yesterday I popped out to the corner of my road to see the torch and it’s entourage drive past (giant truck’s emblazened with Samsung, TSB & Coke).
Billionaires, Celebrities & Royalty – Party on!
So why have I suddenly become disappointed. Reading Friday’s Evening Standard it posted details of another parade – The UK’s richest person hosting a party to greet the Indian Olympic team. It was a public view of the haves and the have not’s – also known as the haves and the have yachts. We noted celebrities and royalty attending parties (Invitations included the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Brad, Angelina & Bollywood!) together with priority tickets and torch holding privileges for popstars. Although the latter was supported earlier this week by an exSportsperson justifying a pop-star walking in heels with the Torch. He suggested that because popstar’s are appreciated by teenagers it would encourage them (house-bound technology dependant and conditioned kids) into pursuing sport & fresh air. I would say that there is a certain amount of truth in that statement although it avoids the role of the state and multinationals who market fatty foods.
Let’s return to the original aim of the games. Wasn’t it to encourage sportspersonship, the importance of taking part and to yield a sense of global unity to facilitate peace? I’m sorry, but a lot of that has disappeared amist corporate sponsorship and personal egos. The state of the games probably reflect society today, i.e: exclusivity and ego. Maybe back in 2005 I was a little too innocent to realise that the potential existed that further commercialisation and hijacking of the games original theme by celebrities would distort the ideals of the games.
Wikipedia’s Olympic Games article also cites a cynical perspective, i.e:
Controversy ‘The sale of the Olympic brand has been controversial. The argument is that the Games have become indistinguishable from any other commercialized sporting spectacle. Specific criticism was levelled at the IOC for market saturation during the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Games. The cities were awash in corporations and merchants attempting to sell Olympic-related wares. The IOC indicated that they would address this to prevent spectacles of over-marketing at future Games. Another criticism is that the Games are funded by host cities and national governments; the IOC incurs none of the cost, yet controls all the rights and profits from the Olympic symbols. The IOC also takes a percentage of all sponsorship and broadcast income. Host cities continue to compete ardently for the right to host the Games, even though there is no certainty that they will earn back their investments.’
Is there still hope? I can be positive, honest!
In Nick Hornby’s article from the WSJ – http://stream.wsj.com/story/london-olympics-2012/SS-2-13789/SS-2-36231/ ‘My Utter Lack of Olympic Spirit;, he ends with a positive, when citing some differences to when London last hosted the games,
‘From this distance, at least, it’s possible to imagine that the 1948 Games felt like the beginning of something—a new country, a new Europe, a new era of peace and prosperity. We may not have won much, but we didn’t care. In 2012, the medals matter. We don’t want this party to end.
Maybe that is the point. I spoke to a work colleague and she suggested that it was great that the spirit of the Olympics had arrived in her village. Its all about the athletes now. A time to come together not to fight each other but rejoice in human potential. Therefore, I should look on the positive side of life, for example, some community people being highlighted (pardon the pun) to hold the torch and personal stories of atheletes pursuing potential success.
On the eve of the games, let us all rally around the people who will make our hopes for them come true. Not the corporate sponsors but the unity we will all see around us as we all cheer for any of the winning teams.