“We thought we were hosts like the queen is at a posh garden party, when actually we’re hosts in the way that John Hurt is in Alien.” As the Olympics approach, the scandals, inconveniences, mistakes and problems keep mounting, ranging from the frustrating through the comic to the tragic. For your appreciation, a picture of the London Olympics 2012.
Public opinion on the games is tepid at best, with more that half of Britons saying they are not interested. Sold on the promise of encouraging public particpation in sport and exercise, despite a poor track record at previous Olympics, the UK government has actually cut the budget of the public sport authority and abandoned targets of getting people active. Meanwhile, the largest expanse of football playing fields in Europe, home to 1500 players and nearly 100 Sunday league matches has been swallowed up by an Olympic carpark. Even access to canals and walkways around the Olympic site has been throttled severely.
Authorities have promised “inspirational stories” from the Olympic torch bearers. Strangely, the identities of many remain mysterious while others appear to work for game sponsors. With some torch bearers trying to sell their torches perhaps the sight of will.i.am texting as he carried the torch through Somerset isn’t as out of step as it seems.
Olympic provider G4S has admitted to failing to deliver sufficient security staff for the games and is unsure if security staff speak English, with recruits complaining about no uniforms, no schedules and inadequate training. A whistle-blower has warned that a bomb would have a 50-50 chance of getting past security checks. Elsewhere, surface-to-air missiles have been installed on rooftops in East London. It’s been pointed out that any aircraft thus shot down would crash … on London, but perhaps it’s just for show.
Days after cutbacks in the military were annouced, the army has been called in to bolster staffing shortfalls. More soldiers will be deployed in the UK than in Afghanistan. Some have called for compensation for inconvenience, extra hours, cancelled leave and holidays, while others have said the solders should have taken out holiday insurance.
The traffic lanes dedicated to Olympic traffic (including sponsors) are kicking in, with some confusion. As a result, one central London road simply disappears as it turns into two lanes of which drivers can use neither. Others have pointed this is out of step with the Olympics focus on an active lifestyle, although it’s arguably in line with the policy of asking people to stay away.
Almost 300 “brand enforcement” officers are searching the country for unauthorized use of the Olympic brand, including use of the words “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “summer” and “London”. And thanks to a corporate monopoly, chips can only be served on the Olympic site if they are served with fish.
“The relationship between the country and the Games feels like that of a couple whose long-dodgy marriage is falling to pieces thanks to the stress of hosting a huge party. All you do is clench the teeth and hope to get through it without a bust-up”. Finally, some have noted the absence from the Olympics of the great British sports of cricket, polo, caber-tossing and cheese rolling.