My apologies for that truly outrageous pun. Its purpose (sorry!) will become clear later. For the moment, however, let me simply say that the Olympic Games have droned on and on much as I feared they would do with all the attendant, and inevitable, rows, scandals, tantrums, complaints, and bad manners and worse grace from winners and losers alike.
We have had the usual quota of competitors returned home in disgrace following drugs tests, competitors and officials alike being returned to base because of ill-considered racist twitters, plus the usual litany of cheating allegations from sore losers. We have had even, God help us, some badminton players being sent on their sorry way for trying too hard ……. not to win! Am I missing something about the Olympian ideal?
On top of all this, if it was not enough, there has been an absolute avalanche of protest from businesses in London and other Games venues who have seen their vital tourist season turned into a financial disaster by the unhealthy and unhelpful emphasis on the Games, the Games, and nothing but the Games.
I bet that when London was awarded the Games seven years ago all Londoners failed to realize that the Olympic motto of “Ever higher, ever faster, ever stronger” really meant the costs and the inconvenience of the whole bloated shebang.
A further source of major discontent has been the sight of all these rows and rows of empty premium seats at major events. They have remained unoccupied because the select bodies of the so-called “Olympic Family” – the fat cat sponsors and the corpulent number of pointless officials – simply have not been bothered to turn up for the seats they were given for free …… when thousands of genuine sport fans have been disappointed.
Mind you, I do have some sympathy with the non-attenders. One of the less attractive features of London 2012 has been the ubiquitous sight of that tangle-haired Tory blonde bombshell who is the Mayor of London popping out from under his rock at every conceivable opportunity to tell anybody who is listening (which rules out just about 99.9 percent of the UK population) just how super and marvelous and wonderful the whole bloody thing is, and how it’s all going exactly to his plan.
I reckon that a large proportion of all these empty seats can be attributed to the fear of the people who should be sitting in them that, if they were, they would find Boris the Mouth plonking himself down beside them to tell them just how much they are enjoying themselves.
However, Britain being Britain, there is always cause for optimism. There are always those few “those happy few,” who approach the Olympics in the right spirit.
A letter the other day in the UK “Daily Telegraph” confirmed this. The writer pointed out that in some of the permanent venues, such as Wimbledon, fixed equipment like hand-dryers and soap dispensers in the toilets had inevitably been installed by companies that had not paid the Olympic organizers for the right to have their products on display.
As a result, because of the crass commercialization imposed by the “Olympic Family” (sordid sponsorship branch) their manufacturers’ logos had to be blanked out using white tape.
I cannot tell you how pleased I am, in the good name of British sportsmanship, that last weekend a substantial number of spectators at the tennis events shared my distaste for all this sponsorship crap, so much so that they took the time and trouble to peel off the offending masking tape, so as to reveal the equipment in all its proper identity.
How very British! How truly Olympian!
Inevitably, one of the least savoury aspects of the Games has been the sour grapes dished out by, largely, the coaches of athletes who have failed to win what they expected to win. One outstanding example of this has been the reaction of the Americans especially to the remarkable performances put in by the young Chinese swimming team. Our colonial cousins have resorted to all manner of grudging comment, hinting particularly at all sorts of underhand practices …. In which, of course, the good old US of A are really expert.
I have another explanation, slightly more fanciful, for Chinese success in the water. It is to be found in the traditional British sea-shanty which runs something like this: -“ My father was the keeper of the Eddystone Light/ who dallied with a mermaid one fine night./ From that union there came three,/ a porpoise, a porgy, and the other was me!”
Genetic engineering, anyone?