Kingdom of Cock-ups

I swore I wouldn’t write a blog about the Olympics but, sorry, I’ve got to get it all off my chest. Before a starting pistol has been fired or drug test shown positive, the whole things has already left a very nasty taste. As far as the actual sporting competition is concerned, I’m sure I’ll tune in, watch the track events if its convenient, and follow the fortunes of Team GB (what a hideous sobriquet), but if the Games were not happening, it would make not a jot of difference to my life. I shall make a point of avoiding the women’s volleyball, synchronised swimming and all the other nouveau events that should never have been dignified with Olympicisation.

So all that’s OK-ish. No, it’s the organisation that makes me reach for the blood pressure tablets: the immoral cost of the whole thing, the ridiculous £27 million for the opening ceremony, the major sponsors devoted to unhealthy eating and drinking, the tax avoidance schemes they’ve agreed with the IOC, the hopeless, hapless Border Control Agency, the G4S debacle, the rip-off prices, the Panglossian self-publicist Lord Coe and his cohorts, their sunny determination to hoist their show on the rest of us, the promises of regeneration which we all know is not going to happen, the cheesy torch relay (thousands of people cheering / ‘I’ll never see anything like it again in my lifetime’), the ghastly Tessa Jowell, the £130 fines for driving in a designated Olympic road lane, the  ageing infrastructure of a capital city that is totally inadequate for such a major event, the back handers, the corruption, the daft extent of Olympic copyright restrictions, the two hour queueing to get from the underground to your seat (just wait and see if I’m right!)… I could go on. How, why did we land this millstone round our necks? Step forward Tony Blair and David Beckham.

And all the while we are cutting our armed forces to a minium, haven’t got the money to fund care for our expanding elderly population,  give £100 million a year to a nuclear power (India) and want to spend £32 billion on a new train line from London to Birmingham. It is all completely, utterly bonkers. But, as usual, the quiet majority of us just watch in abject, impotent despair. At the very least, UK passport holders should have had priority booking to the Games at affordable ticket prices – like £10 a head, since us tax payers have subsidised the entire rigmarole. A friend offered my wife a ticket to the show jumping finals. Cost? £125. She turned it down on principle. Good for her.

The Olympics should never be allowed to be staged again in this way. We should hold them every four or five years in Greece on a purpoise-built, permanent Olympic site with no multi-national sponsors, just proportionate funding from every participating country. It’s a great sporting concept, yes, but like Topsy has growed – growed beyond reason and sanity. I haven’t met one person who is thrilled and excited about London 2012, but I know many who are bothered and bewildered by it and certainly not bewitched.

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