The Olympic Legacy And The Common Man
By russbrownauthor, Aug 1 2012 02:59PM
Can I just thank you all for joining me on another blog posting and for having over 3000 individual visitors this week. My blogs have now been published on a book based website and although I do talk about writing dear reader, I also write about the things in life that I come across daily and want to gripe about!
I have decided to blog today about the Olympics and its legacy to the common man.
Seven years ago I like many other British people, waited with bated breath as the decision for host nation for 2012 was announced. I remember vividly being genuinely excited by the prospect of it being in Great Britain. That was a surprise to me. Because, if I was honest, the Olympics have always been something of a sporting footnote in my life, exciting at the time, but not as worthy as a football world cup. My wife on the other hand, a gymnast of some note in the past, thinks the Olympics is a sporting Valhalla which should be embraced with vigour.
So I was not surprised by the level of excitement that built in our household, as the summer approached. We considered taking part in the ticket lottery, considered travelling to the capital and also began planning holiday time around certain events.
I could say that this excitement continued until the glorious opening ceremony, I could but it didn’t.
Very quickly I began to realise that these events highlighted the class difference between those at the top and those who genuinely make the country tick. Britain without question is in a period of change or chaos. We are led by a group of people who were not actually voted in, who hark back to a 1950’s British utopia which did not exist even in the 1950’s. We are broke and losing money fast we have massive immigration and inner city problems which where only too clearly highlighted in last year’s riots. We have corrupt journalists who have been proven to stoop to depths which would make the average Bond villain shudder and to top it all off the people the average man trusts with their hard earned money betrayed us massively on more than one occasion.
So the games could have been a celebration of all things British, should have been a showcase for how we can rebuild our nation much like we did in the early 1950’s. We could have but we didn’t.
I will start simply with the tickets, thousands upon thousands of tickets were available or so we thought. Actually, one third of the tickets where already ear-marked for corporate junkets. This led to a ridiculous scramble for tickets which meant even competitors struggled to get tickets for their own families. To add insult to injury what have we seen in the first days of the games? Row upon row of empty seats. The corporate prawn sandwich lot obviously don’t want to watch the opening rounds of handball or tennis, but you can bet your bottom dollar those seats will be full on the 100m final. But what should the organisers have done? They should have released stand by tickets for a nominal fee for those waiting around the Olympic park. It took the organisers 3 days to come up with this idea. Not really embracing the Olympic spirit of sport for all.
Then we move on to the cost, I was told that the price of the games was the equivalent of approx. £500 for every adult in the country and what will the majority actually get out of it? The answer is simple: nothing. We hear every day about the legacy of the games, but what did the games do for Greece? In short it helped to the countries current financial crisis and its fall into bankruptcy there was no business boom in Greece because of the Olympics, in fact trade and tourism decreased during the games. The same has happened in London, the streets are no busier than other times of year, the hotels are not full to bursting like predicted, people who don’t have tickets have simply stayed away. This means financially the games could be a fiscal white elephant that we may be paying off for generations.
My scepticism was altered dramatically however, on the opening ceremony, this was a thing of theatrical beauty the opening of idyllic 1800’s countryside of Constable being transformed before our eyes into the industrial mill towns of the Victorian era, without the aid of CGI was a visual spectacle I was glad to witness, add to that elements of humour, literary figures, the fantastic eclectic musical roots of the country and a parachuting monarch then we did our nation proud. We showed the world we are the slightly strange but funny relative who has history unbounded but doesn’t quite know where it fits in the modern world. The strange uncle who was a superb rock n roll dancer, who now in his 70’s looks rather strange still, sporting an silver grey Elvis quiff.
The final point is of course the athletes, those who make the Olympics what they are, the peoples event, whereby everyday individuals can compete in sometimes down-right bizarre sporting events, I mean come on, Handball? BMXing? Windsurfing? The opening ceremony finished with the parade of athletes, many of whom jumped about, held out their mobile phones or twittered about the experience as they were walking around! Not really the respectful beginning you would expect. So it’s London it’s the opening ceremony, and the British team looks a little thin, why? Because the majority of the team where at a training camp……in Portugal!
Again this showed to me the cracks of the games beginning to show.
Our athletes where tipped for great things this year, on home soil rebounding from a superb Olympics in Beijing, but we are now 4 days in and we are actually doing pretty much as we always have done. We are the also ran squad, the team that tries but doesn’t quite make it . The journalist and presenter Piers Morgan tweeted today “Might help concentrate TeamGB’s minds if we stopped going crazy over their ‘heroic’ silver and bronze medals. Sport is about winning.” And I think he has a point. The Americans and Chinese win because they fight to the bitter end the concept of defeat is alien to them they work and work hard. We cannot say we no longer have the resources to compete because for the last 7 years at least we have. Lottery money, again from the pocket of the average person, has poured in and out of the Olympic fund and through our swimmers, gymnasts and cyclists we should have something to show for it, finishing 4th is simply nothing to celebrate.
So all in all, 4 days into London 2012 we have seen tantrums, cheats, bad sportsmanship and a salute to all things eccentrically British, we have spent a fortune, will probably regain little of it back, our medals haul at the moment is significantly smaller than one would have hoped for, but I’m proud we are the host nation. That excitement we felt 7 years ago is building yes it is a wash out summer with regards to the weather, yes the awful G4S security nearly scuppered the games before they started, yes Steve Redgrave is a champion Olympian but he should also realise allowing the next generation to light the flame was a genius idea, yes it’s ridiculous that we are now Team GB and not the Great Britain Team, yes the corporate idiots should not have been allowed to leave seats empty and yes the games mean nothing to the majority of the population, but when the national anthem plays and you see that gold medal go round a youthful Brit with a beaming face full of hope it makes all that whinging worthwhile. Go for gold and do yourselves proud as nobody remembers you if you come second.
Thanks for joining me on this marathon, not a sprint,(see what I did there) blog and I would appreciate any comments.
Best wishes and thanks for reading
you say in this modern era with have problems with people abusing their power, ie journalists and the coporate people leaving the seats empty etc etc, you are correct in what you say, but I dont believe it is a modern thing, this sort of abuse of power has happened forever, its just now in the modern world wall actually find out about it
Do you know what Nick I think you are completely right. Without question previous games were and will be corrupt I also agree with the fact that in the modern generation of social media and 24hr live TV we do actually have more say/view in what goes on and this transparancy can surely only be a good thing. A good comment well made Nick, thanks for that and thanks for reading.