The Olympics

So, I return with some thoughts on the Olympics, which have managed leave me in an incredibly confused state. On the one hand, I’m a massive critic of the whole Olympics thing. I didn’t want London to be awarded the games in the first place because the whole thing seems like a massive expense and inconvenience for the city hosting them with no obvious pay off. To be sure, the IOC and every city that hosts the games like to talk up regeneration and legacy issues but there isn’t much evidence to suggest that that ever really happens. Plus, if we’re going to be talking up regeneration and legacy then I can think of other places in the UK that are more in need of that than one of the richest cities in the world.

Of course, I get the idea that the Olympics is a tremendous sporting spectacle and that’s great thing if you’re a sports person but I don’t think that is reason enough to be chucking money at the games, letting corporations dictate to people and government, etc, etc. My misgivings on that score were summed up by the empty seats at events on the first couple of days. If the money was being spent to enable people to witness a great sporting spectacle then great but it seems to be more about enabling already quite privileged people have a jolly up in the west end, get special lanes to take them to the events and then not bother to use them.

Anyway, the confusion kicked in last week in a couple of ways. The first was when tax-dodging political-opinion void Mitt Romney went off on one about how London might balls the whole thing up. My first reaction was basically “fuck you, Romney”. It was a bit like when you have a close relative you think is a bit of a dick — you’re allowed to say they’re a bit if a dick but you’re not going to have a Republican turn up and say it for you. So, in a moment, I suddenly wanted the whole thing to work. It also confused me because David Cameron actually said something I agreed with when he had a swipe at Romney’s role in the Salt Lake Olympics. Weird.

I then got even more confused by the opening ceremony. I wasn’t planning on watching it because it cost £27 million and I was convinced it was going to make me angry on that basis alone. My wife insisted on watching it, though, so I ended up doing so too (incidentally, I’m only writing this because my wife is insisting on watching the gymnastics — a sport I don’t understand and dislike because it’s settled by judges). As far as these things go, I thought the opening ceremony was good. Where I got confused was I suddenly started liking it whole lot more because Toby Young, conservative MP and Nazi-themed stag do attendee Aiden Burley, and the Daily Mail all hated it because they thought it was left-wing, multi-cultural bull-shit. Basically, all the reasons I thought it was quite good (celebrating stuff like the NHS, it didn’t bang in about WWII, etc) are the reasons they hated it and I like it when Tories get the opportunity to show that a lot of them are elitist, racist idiots, rather than the progressive stuff (eg gay marriage) the PR guys would like to emphasise.

So, basically, I’ve ended up in the situation where I’m not sure what I think about the whole thing. Luckily, I can forget about it for a while because the sport bit has started and it’s not really fair to detract from the fact that a lot of people who have made immense sacrifices are now getting their moment to do the thing they’ve spent donkeys years training for. Plus, I don’t really care about any of the Olympic sports so I can safely ignore most of it. The bit where I can switch back on is at the end when the sport has gone and we start to see what the legacy is. My suspicion is that there won’t be a particularly great legacy and the I can start hating the whole thing again.

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