{07/07/2012}   A bit of an Olympics-in-London rant

                I hoped London wouldn’t win the 2012 Olympic bid and my conviction that London shouldn’t be hosting them has increased ever since London did win.  I am not against the Olympics; I think the games are a wonderful showcase for sporting talent and something inspirational and for young sportspeople to aspire to.  I also think it’s amazing that it’s a worldwide event.  I just don’t think London should have been the host city.

                Everything I write here is based on what I perceive to be the case, this does not mean it is accurate, it’s just what I’ve read, heard about or been led to believe.

It is inevitable that any host city will be busier during the Olympics.  But London is already overcrowded.  How will our already fragile (and extraordinarily un-air conditioned) transport system cope?  Oh, that’s right, people who work in London should work from home.  My work and that of many others is not possible to conduct from home.  Many train lines will run to an Olympics Timetable, something I have already ranted about.  In other words, the normal, wage-earning lives of possibly even most people who work in London is going to be affected dramatically.  For those of us hoping to go on holiday for the duration of at least the first few weeks of Olympic turmoil, coupled with it being the school holidays, prices seem higher than normal, particularly for flights.  I know some people who have been told they are not to take annual holiday during the Olympic period.  Erm, school holidays?  My blood is boiling as I write!

That Olympic merchandise appears to not be being made in the UK defies all logic to me.  Yes, it’s supposed to be a world-inclusive event but surely part of the deal for winning host city status is that everything should be made and designed in that country, a veritable showcase for how great Britain can be.  Unsurprisingly, the overspend on all things Olympic is devastatingly high.  So many of us are crippled financially at the moment, this all seems excessive.  As for the huge budget on the 2012 logo, I cannot look at that awful configuration without rolling my eyes and shaking my head in disgust.  Why were “people” paid an obscene amount of money to design a logo which has caused a lot of controversy and which I still can’t read as saying “2012” when we have school children around the country who I expect would have thrived on the challenge to design the 2012 logo?  They wouldn’t have been paid, the reward being the one-off opportunity to see their 2012 logo displayed all around the world.  Surely that would have been more in the spirit of the Olympics.  It feels far too corporate and decadent.  It shouldn’t.  That’s something I like about the Olympic torch relay, it’s actually sharing the host city status with the whole country.  It’s a lovely idea and more in the spirit of the Olympics being for all.

Ticketing.  Despite being anti-London-Olympics, I did apply for tickets.  I was living in London at the time and, as I lived in an “Olympic borough”, I foolishly thought I had a right of sorts to “win” tickets.  The whole system was a disgrace.  I couldn’t apply for too many as I couldn’t afford to win them all, but I didn’t realise I wouldn’t get any.  Friends of mine who live minutes away from Greenwich Park and the horse events are having their lives hugely disrupted with regard to parking and driving restrictions, plus Greenwich Park has been cordoned off for quite some time.  They didn’t get tickets either.  Most people I know didn’t get any tickets, others got a few sets of tickets.  I am not aware of anyone who got tickets who only got one lot of tickets, all those I know with tickets got them for a few things.  How does that work?  Something wasn’t right.

As for advertising, that is something that sends me into overdrive.  I can’t quite believe that spectators (and athletes, I expect) are only allowed to consume or use products that are official Olympic sponsors, from withdrawing cash using only certain cards to what you eat or drink.  Which food and drink manufacturers have the most funds to pay for advertising?  Junk food and fizzy pop ones.  At a sporting event.  Really?  Disgraceful.

I cannot envisage how London will cope, how the VIP lanes won’t wreak havoc with commuters, particularly those on buses who, for example, work in the shops and restaurants London wants and needs the influx of tourists to boost.  Some workers, mainly transport workers, have secured bonuses for the extra work.  Meanwhile, some of us will get no work or challenging commutes.  There are people who are benefiting enormously from the Olympics being held in London, but it does not seem to be your average London worker.

I do hope these Olympics go smoothly.  I know that wherever they are held a lot of compromises to everyday life have to be made, I just don’t think we have the infrastructure to cope with it.  I’m not even going to go into the security issues.  It’s great the venues seem to function and a previously largely ignored part of London is now pretty much centre stage, ie around Stratford, but there has been a price for that.  People have been turfed out of their homes, the “Olympic legacy” does not appear to be for the benefit of those in the vicinity of Stratford to the extent it should be and there is a chance that a once run down area, now full of modern buildings and sport facilities, could end up like the depressingly derelict looking Barcelona Olympics sites.  I hope I’m wrong to be so down about the Olympics in London, I really do.


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