Seb Coe’s technicolour dream debt

23 04 2012

Last week I received an unexpected yet glowing e-mail from the organisers of “London 2012″™. It may have been an unexpected glowing e-mail but it was glowing e-mail that I wasn’t entirely surprised to receive; last year I declared an interest in buying olympic tickets.

The glowing olympic e-mail told me that there were only 100 days until the start of “London 2012″™.  Just after I’d taken this fantastic news on board I noticed the insistent question a bit further down the page; “What are you doing to get ready?”

Suddenly my happiness was riven in two by worry and  I was unable read the rest of the e-mail. I knew that I wasn’t doing enough to get ready for the big event. I castigated myself. Oh lord why wasn’t I doing enough? Why do I always leave everything until the last one hundred days? When I eventually stopped hyper-ventilating I remembered that I detested the concept of “London 2012”™, then I felt much better.

The relief didn’t last. Dark clouds returned when I remembered the 100 day milestone. A single idea filled my mind; the bloody olympics are so close they’re hemming me in. The hype is only going to get worse; olympic merchandise is already toppling into supermarket aisles, the hopeful pleading at the end of news items –  “Let’s hope our boys do well in the summer!!” has already commenced  and as we know the hopeful pleading of today becomes the hysterically expectant blustering of tomorrow.

It’s only going to get worse, much worse; I foresee a million and one catty tweets castigating the British Basketball team for committing the heinous crime of losing after people have suddenly developed a passionate interest in a sport; I foresee breathless news reports about a British badminton player about to qualify for the quarter finals, I foresee the reporter earnestly telling us about the intricacies of badminton racquet selection. I fear for the summer.

My ambivalence with the concept of “London 2012”™ began some time ago;  roughly a second after I saw the “Announcement of the winner ceremony”on the news. Even that small amount of coverage allowed me to see that the organisers had tried to make the bullshit event masquerade as an actual sporting occasion; they’d assembled a crowd and then gave everyone an identical “London 2012” flag. I found the sight of Kelly Holmes and others  jumping up and down hysterically to be bad enough, but the presence of the “supporters”, with their identical flags fluttering in the breeze, only made it worse.  The stage-managed spontaneous public display joy was all very sad.

My ambivalence became stronger amidst the PR circus of the Team GB football team. Senior members of FIFA told the Welsh, the Scots and the Northern Irish not to worry but evidence and experience shows that you cannot trust FIFA. Lord Coe was unable to see past rows and rows of joyful faces at his brilliant, yet vastly expensive, festival of human achievement so he wasn’t much  help either. He certainly didn’t want dissenting voices messing things up with their inconvenient ability to see the setting of dangerous precedents for the future.

When I thing about other elements of the olympic dream my hackles rise. Take Lord Seb, the organisational czar of “London 2012″™, I’ve never been able to stand that Tory gobshite. I’ve never been able to stand insistent questioning tones on the news and this is the default setting for reporters talking about the olympics; “What will the Olympic legacy be in Wales? ………… What will we do with the Olympic stadium? What, Why, How??????????” I can’t stand the fact that the multinational Olympic sponsors think they can make adverts packed with sullen athletic achievers in the shadows then lie back and bask in the reflected glory of the Olympic ethos. They actually have the gall to think this slickly produced hogwash deflects our attention from their less than wholesome “business practices”.

When I consider the security arrangements I feel nauseous. The Munich and Atlanta Olympic games proved that the games can act as a target for groups so there is a need for security. However in a terrorism obsessed age these security concerns are vastly overblown. “London 2012”™ has not only led to stringent new laws, it will lead to the “biggest mobilisation of military and security forces since the second war”. Is such action needed for a fortnight’s festival of sport? Do we require new laws that “legitimise the use of force, potentially by private security companies…….”  Did we need new laws that also allow;

“……..Olympic security personnel to deal forcibly with the display of any commercial material that is deemed to challenge the complete management of London as a “clean city” to be branded for the global TV audience wholly by prime corporate sponsors (including McDonald’s, Visa and Dow Chemical).”

Do we need laws that mean;

“…….London is also being wired up with a new range of scanners, biometric ID cards, number-plate and facial-recognition CCTV systems, disease tracking systems, new police control centres and checkpoints. These will intensify the sense of lockdown in a city which is already a byword across the world for remarkably intensive surveillance.”

Why should people be stopped from protesting about the activities of Nike or the I.O.C. in a democratic society? Why should we suffer from greater surveillance? The worst thing is a government’s tendency to make the special laws they pass for single events part of a legal framework for years after the event in question. Laws relating to public order are often used in unforeseen ways (by the public anyway) in the future, the laws passed for “London 2012″™ could be infringing civil liberties for years to come. Is this what the olympics are all about?

Don’t get me wrong about the olympics, I dig them as much as the next man. I like the photo of John Carlos and Tommie Collins, I liked watching Britain’s hockey team in ’88, I liked seeing Daley Thompson, Sergei Bubka and Haile Gebrselassie . I love the spectacle; Ben Johnson, Michael Johnson and Usain Bolt breaking world records, Chris Boardman on his Lotus bike. I love watching the marathon and seeing the changing landscape of the city in question. I’ve even loved watching the French Handball team in the past. I dig the idea that sport brings together so many people in one place.

When I try to focus on the sporting events at “London 2012″™ I can’t get past the problems I faced in obtaining tickets for the bloody events I wanted to watch, and the events that I may have thought about, and even the events  that I hadn’t thought about.

At first it appeared easy to find the tickets on the official website so I was lulled into thinking that you had a chance to get some tickets, I even had the brand of debit card that allowed me purchase tickets!! Then I saw that tickets with a decent view of the 100m final were astronomical. The more affordable events then caught my eye, at least I will be able to say that I’ve been to an olympic games! Then I realised that I wouldn’t know what I was getting for months. The effort needed was just too much.

Since the first application process I have periodically tried to see if football tickets are still available. They appear to be but I can’t find a way to buy one. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to walk up to the turnstile, even if the appeal of Ghana v Paraguay is rather selective. Mind you I wasn’t that bothered about missing the matches; I still had a plan to watch an Olympic event!!!!

As a big fan of Mark Cavendish I knew that I could watch the cycling road race and it would be free. I even thought about taking my giant flag, just like they do on Le Tour. I assumed that “London 2012” ™ would follow the custom of previous olympics, this was a foolproof back up plan!! Then “The Man” announced that they’re going to charge for this too. I was gutted.

The thing that annoys me the most about “London 2012” is the marketing bullshit. The Olympics used to be a simple yet prestigious festival of international sport, now it’s “The greatest show on earth buddy” and has to be sold as such. “The Man”  tells us that we need to have it this way because we need to have it this way. “The Man” tells us we need to spend billions of pounds on an event that’s running for a fortnight.  “The Man” tells us we need massive stadia, a shiny this and a shiny that. “The Man” tells us that we need to think like this because we need to think of all the money the games will generate and how much we’ll all benefit from the games. “The Man” and his accepted logic is wrong ; Kuper and Szymanski pointed out in Soccernomics economic benefits do not flow from hosting major sporting event s.

“The Man” tells us the whole nation has to be involved, but does it? London won the Olympics not Great Britain so why does the rest of Britain have to be involved? Aside from the events that cannot take place in London, like yachting, rowing or kayaking, why does the whole of the nation have to be involved? Why does the football tournament have to take place all over Britain? Surely there are enough football grounds in London to cater for a tournament that isn’t really that popular. “The Man” hasn’t told me what exactly is wrong with just watching the events on TV? Involving the entire nation is just PR bullshit. The idea is used to make us feel as though we’re involved because they need to make us feel involved to justify the vast amount of money they are spending on the games.

If you want to see PR bullshit in action just look at this advert; 

This has the strong stench of corporate bullshit. We simply cannot trust corporate social initiatives because cynicism is at their core , in this case, image creation. It’s about making the British people think that somehow the Olympics involve the whole of Britain when they patently don’t. The use of corporate social initiatives corrupts the most simple of social interactions.

For example let’s look at the role of “Local Leaders” as featured in the above advert. If you fancy being a “Local Leader” there’s a website that’s full of handy hints.

“………You know your stuff, but if you need a little help getting started we’ve got some quick tips below.

Quick tips

– Pick your moment. Check out our 2012 planner of key dates
– Get your team together. Got big plans? Divide and conquer
– What’s your twist? Fancy dress for countries competing in the Games?
– Who’s coming? The kids? Adults only?
– Find the right venue. Your house, school field, student union…
– Get your munch on. Think party rings, Torch cupcakes, food from each competing nation.
– Looks are everything. Dress your venue with streamers and bunting”

In days gone by street parties were spontaneous celebrations of something, now they have to be sponsored, packaged and standardised. I’m sure that if people want to have an Olympics themed street party they won’t need a “Local Leader” to organise people “Getting their munch on”.  Wondering if “London 2012″™ ‘s legal team would get in touch with  a person that threw unauthorised “London 2012” street party may seem like a very exaggerated satire but when you read this story; “Café Olympic greasy spoon ‘ordered to change name’ it doesn’t seem so fanciful.

Look at the language of bullshit they use; “Get you team together ….. Divide and Conquer” Unless I’m very much mistaken, this was a leadership principle favoured by Hitler.  What wholesome fun you could have as a local leader!!! Especially when there are pre-designed posters to invite people to an official “London 2012”™ barbecue!!!  

However before you go out dividing and ruling the untermensch you must remember that;  “The Local Leaders programme is about celebration rather than making money, so events and activities should not be commercialised.”  This a refreshing attitude in a world full of people trying to make a quick buck. To bang home the point about the glorious olympian spirit, just under the reinforcement of a Local Leader’s social role there’s  a hyper link about the brand protection of  “London 2012”™ .

One last thing, you must remember one more thing, as a Local Leader you must

 − ensure that you do not discriminate against anyone; and

− do not promote any political, religious or other propaganda.

Yes you must strictly limit your promotion of propaganda to the propaganda of the IOC and its glorious sponsors. Do we have to have everything organised for us and given a corporate identity? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything that tells us what’s wrong with just watching Usain Bolt on TV.

I can’t wait for the summer!! The olympics, the lairiness of the European Championships. the pomp, pageantry and circumstance of the jubilee, an atmosphere that leads to biscuit manufacturers to design packaging like this;


Oh yes, it’s going to be a summer that I’ll want to hibernate through.




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