Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Olympic Games

Exactly one year from today, the Olympic games begin in London.

I've mixed feelings about the event. Normally I couldn't care less about the Olympics, but commuting to London over three years and passing the construction site on the train twice a day meant the games were hard to ignore.

The site is impressive, although the main stadium seems rather bland from the outside. Not so for the aquatic centre which has a roof that resembles a manta ray or something fishy like that. Reports on the radio today mentioned that it had been a sod to build. That's not surprising with all those complex curves to achieve.

People, quite rightly, are concerned about the cost of the games which has risen and risen since they were first worked out, according to legend, by Tessa Jowell on the back of an envelope. But since the bid was won back in 2005 we've spent billions bailing out the banks and on bizarre wars so we might as well blow a bit more on an international party, which is basically all the Olympics is.

My main concern is the cringe factor of the opening ceremony. I remember the horror of the Euro 96 ceremony, which one commentator compared to the opening of a village fete circa 1956. As a country we don't do these things very well, especially when compared to the preceding games in China. Say what you like about communism but one thing it excels at is creepy mass parades featuring thousands of identically clad people marching and dancing in lock step like mechanical toys.

My main regret is that Britain didn't have the courage to challenge some of the existing Olympic orthodoxy. Since the infamous Berlin games of 1936 this has consisted of building an elaborate huge stadium, staging a stupidly complex and ornate opening ceremony and building a highly guarded Olympic village. It's just ridiculous for 17 short days of minority interest sport, which includes 'disciplines' like beach volleyball, rhythmic gymnastics, and my favourite synchronised swimming.

A braver approach would have been to scrap the opening ceremony with all it's associated Leni Riefenstahl bollocks and replace it with a parade of all the teams, perhaps around the streets of London. Accommodate the athletes in existing student halls of residence and scrap some of the more meaningless events. That would have opened the door to a more affordable Olympics which developing countries could have staged in the future.

Oh well, it'll be fun to revisit this post in a year's time and see whether my fears are realised...



Blogger Marilyn in Colorado said...

Hi Rogah! How are you? I tried to get tix to the London Olympics in the first lottery--picked 3 days and applied for various events--didn't get any! And I've done this successfully for 3 other olympics. If you can get any tix (and usually you can on site from somebody), I suggest you go. It's a natural high--you are basically with thousands of people from around the world who are experiencing a terrific happy excited buzz that's contagious. And especially interesting are the less high-profile events (which we rarely see on TV in the states). I still plan to get to England next year, particularly to London and Kent, also France, so I hope to see you then! Cheers, Marilyn in Colorado

8:47 PM  

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