Posts Tagged ‘International Olympic Committee’

Simon Jenkins offers an angry assessment of the Olympics so far:

Early in the London bid process I attended a conference at which the Blairite talk was of holding a “new games”, even a “people’s Olympics“. They would put an end to the International Olympic Committee‘s self-importance, elitism and expense, showing how any world city could afford to host the Olympics by using existing facilities. There should be no question of the Olympics imposing a “white elephant cost”, as on Montreal, Athens and Beijing. Sport would be made to fit the city, not the other way round.

The political ambition of Tony Blair and his team to “win” the games from France blew that to the winds. The IOC’s demands for special stadiums, venues near five-star hotels and Guantánamo-style “fortified villages” were conceded. Huge sums were spent on consultants and buildings. The budget soared. London was sacrificed to extravagance and political kudos, and told it was lucky.

The Games were thus vulnerable to Britain’s prevailing securocrat paranoia, as well as to the logistical chaos that comes with disrupting a large and busy city for a whole summer. There are guards who speak no English and drivers who have never heard of Tower Bridge. Only now are Londoners waking up to the statutory scope that parliament conceded to the IOC back in 2006. It could command London’s police, traffic, advertising and business activity. It could enjoy unlimited access to the British exchequer. A £3bn budget swiftly ballooned to £9bn.

I’ve heard this said elsewhere: the ‘Games’ are epitomising what we now socially crave. We’re so disillusioned and politically apathetic, that we demand spectacle that we can all join in (or delude ourselves into thinking we can). ‘Live’ news, Royal Weddings, Stock, Aiken & Waterman ‘reunions’, you name it, we’ll all come together unquestioningly (and pretty hysterically) for these, in the absence of a political arena we can have any influence over. Blown civil liberties? Who gives a shit when you can afford your holiday to the Costa del Sol? Freedom of assembly? Who needs that, fellow citizen? Don’t you know how much better life would be if you were a GAMES MAKER?

Of course the remaining point is equally true – the security state looked upon the Games with glee as an unparalleled series of opportunities. Just look at the little people whingeing about re-routed traffic, whilst ambulances are banned from GAMES LANES! Just look at how the compliant judiciary isn’t remotely bothered about the military installing missiles on people’s roofs! Londoners aren’t allowed to use the words London, Olympic, Games, 2012 or even to mock LOCOG whilst linking to their website, and woe betide any florist’s, butcher’s or newspapers offering Olympic Specials! They’ll be visited by BRAND POLICE! It sounds comedic but this is all happening right now, amidst the cheering and gasps at the passing of the Olympic Torch. The really dangerous authoritarian elements who had their day in New Labour are laughing up their sleeves.

London won’t gain a thing from the Olympics, other than this transitory ‘feel-good’ blip which we’ve forgotten all about since the Royal Wedding (fancy that). The Tories will continue attacking poor people, the bankers will still refuse to lend to small businesses whilst paying themselves millions in bonuses, and nasty precedents will have been set which won’t have escaped the attention of the securitati in Whitehall, GCHQ (hello) and Downing Street. I’ve been told off for dismissing the positive effect the Games will have on sport, but it remains an utter mystery to me why so many billions need to be spent doing that, and why pushing sport shouldn’t be part of daily life for kids and adults alike anyway. The London 2012 Olympics are epitomising everything that’s wrong in 21st century British life.

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