I have to start by confessing that when Chicago pitched for the 2016 Games, I was aghast and very opposed. This was more to do with the rampant corruption that is Chicago politics than actually playing host to millions of extra tourists. And lord knows, the city could do with an injection of cash.
I am slightly amused however, by the negativity in some quarters towards the 2012 Games. It was exemplified last week with London Transport gloomily declaring that unless 50 million Londoners (OK, not quite that many) stayed off work for the duration of the Games, the public transport system simply wouldn't be able to cope. Dudes - you have a year to figure something out. Start thinking.
In the same week Charles van Commenee, head coach of the British athletics team recently announced, "We've still got athletes who are underperforming at the moment. ...... Let's say if (400m runners) Michael Bingham and Martyn Rooney run the times they've been running this summer again next year, then that's trouble". Way to rally your team, coach! Mind you, he is Dutch!
There's lots of debate over how much it will cost versus how much extra cash will flood in, but one things for certain - the 2012 Games are going to happen. Better make the most of it.
Seriously, would you want these two as your mascot for anything?
(Click photo for article)
(Click photo for article)
When the Olympic bidding was going on, there was a lot of public interest, but mainly because we wanted to beat the French. And we did. And everyone was happy. The unofficial slogan should have been, “At least we kept the French from getting it.” Soon, however, the fact that, having won the bid, we would actually have to host The Games sank in, and the unofficial slogan became, “It’s gonna be a bit shit.”
Over the ensuing years, there has been a growing resentment that the people were not asked if they wanted to spend billions of pounds and play host to millions of athletes and tourists, especially at a time when Britain is grimly enduring a prolonged season of austerity. The government, on the other hand, is happy to spend the money and invite the world in on the supposition that the result will be a net gain of billions in revenue, and thereby a much-needed shot in the arm for the economy. Good thinking; hosting the Olympics worked out really well for Greece, didn’t it.
That said, now that the countdown has officially begun, the tide, in my view, is beginning to turn. Beginning to. Slowly. I do think that, by the time it arrives, we’ll all be pretty excited about it. Whether or not it bankrupts the economy remains to be seen.
Those are largely peripheral issues when compared to the Olympic Ideal, however, and for the good of The Games, I think Britain was the best country to get them after the spectacular that was the Beijing Olympics. Every four years, up until then, each host country had to spend more and more to put on a more impressive show, and after the Chinese, who had the advantage of a billion slave labourers and no human rights, there was no way any country in the world could have put on anything to surpass them. So the British, in a sense, are doing the world and the Olympic Games a favour by lowering the bar so that the next country won’t have to go bankrupt attempting to outdo the 2012 Games.
So, is it gonna be a bit shit? Let’s hope not, but at least we can hope it will be tasteful and turn the spotlight back on the athletes and the spirit of friendly competition and the camaraderie of sport and the joy of taking part, instead of nationalism and keeping up with the Joneses.