Woo, Olympics! Boo, Olympics!

That’s the most eloquent way I can express my feelings towards the 30th Olympiad of the Modern Era. I’ve tried for something more poignant or at least less crap. It hasn’t happened. The point is, the Olympics confuses me more than trying to find the cat in this picture.

There’s quite a lot that I love about the games in truth. First and foremost, I’m a sports fan. I really enjoy few things more in life than hurling encouragement or abuse at people I’ve never met from the safety of my own pyjamas, generally with a pizza balanced on my ever-expanding stomach. I relish the delicious contradiction that I can be watching men and women compete against each other who have trained for the vast majority of their lives, have put themselves through physical and mental torture to squeeze an extra ten percent out of themselves, whilst I myself am completing the Olympian task of getting through a large box of shortbread.

I admire the dedication and will to win, as well as the beach volleyball and really anything involving Jess Ennis or my new favourite-based-on-certainly-nothing-more-than-sporting-prowess athlete, Zara Dampney. (‘Unrelated’ fact: a Google search for ‘Zara Dampney’ is second to ‘Zara Dampney Bikini’ in popularity. What do you mean objectification?)

Most of all, I think the best part of the Olympics is the sense of community it creates. I’m not talking about the ‘Olympic Spirit’, that weird ethereal presence that everybody is talking about but nobody can define or provide an example of, least of all the ridiculous commentator who sincerely suggested that maybe the Olympic Spirit could end violent conflict in Tajikistan. The cynic in me doubts this is the case unless Olympic Spirit has roughly the same effect as napalm, in which case I might be able to see his point.

What I’m more on about is being able to stand outside on a sunny day in Ealing with about 500 complete strangers and have a whale of a time watching somebody I’ve never met carry some fire down the road, whilst policeman roll past and high five small children. The opening ceremony, too, was a timely reminder of some of the unique brilliance we are capable in the UK. Obviously none of us remember anything past the half way mark of the ceremony, as evidenced by the fact that everyone remembers the Queen and Rowan Atkinson but then nods sagely at details of the rest and half suspects that the Paul McCartney bit was actually some kind of gin-induced nightmare.

But we can all agree that it was excellent. Probably. The bits we saw were.

Anyway, enough of the positives, you’re only here because I get shouty, right?

Here goes.

1. Horses don’t get medals. Not only is this grossly unfair on the partner doing all of the hard work, it also robs us of the chance to see horses on a podium. That would be fun. There are also not enough animal events. I propose cat-herding, with the cats starting in a large sack. That way, commentators could use the line ‘The cat is out of the bag’ every few minutes. What’s not to love?

2. Jacques Rogge. About a week ago, Jacques Rogge sat for an interview with David Bond, a man I am convinced does not sleep, to discuss his role in the Olympics and why this should require his own personal section of the M4. After peddling out simply the worst response I’ve ever seen from a figurehead ever, which involved the line “we sit on committees, we give out medals…” as a reason for special lanes, he was asked if perhaps hiring out the Hilton at our expense for him and his buddies might put him a bit out of touch with the commonfolk.

The baffled Rogge, realising that the interviewer was not in fact bringing the bowl of pastries he had requested, responded as if hurt. “Out of touch? But this is just accomodation!” he retorted from the comfort of the divan, neatly showing himself to be wildly out of touch with the commonfolk.

He also looks a bit like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars, who was a bad egg.

Known as ‘Sexy J’ at the IOC

3. Money. It seems to me that whoever designed London 2012, perhaps even the modern Olympics, had a brilliant idea. And people were quietly impressed. And all was well. And then somebody leapt from their seat and screamed “AND THEN WE’LL SELL IT ALL!!”, and everybody else said “Oh yeah, let’s do that”.

I have never felt more bombarded by advertising and sponsor messages than in the last month or so. And I’m not even a mum, so I don’t have to bear the weight of being ‘sponsored’ by P&G, who win gold for patronisation.

Not only is it the fact that you cannot hear anything about the Games without somebody trying to force a hamburger down your throat, it’s the way that brands, the IOC and LOCOG are complicit in suppressing any brand or business or thought that hasn’t been ‘approved’, i.e. bought at outrageous cost.

The overwhelming message I’m getting from Olympic Partners is halfway between religious fanaticism and childish greed:

“THEY ARE THE EVIL ONES, DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. DRINK COKE!” mixed with “THIS IS MY OLYMPICS, MY DADDY BOUGHT IT AND YOU CAN’T HAVE IT.”

There is also some kind of terrifying Olympic Secret Police unit trudging round banning traders from cashing in on the Olympic message, as if British businesses could have the temerity to profit from the Olympics after being told that Britain could profit from the Olympics…

It’s an absolutely damning indictment of the Games that the Olympic Spirit demanded of the athletes and nations, the cornerstone of the IOC’s mission statement, is having such a strong showing in the event but is completely cast aside when the great Olympic Money Grab gets underway. Fair play? Openness? Bullshit. This kind of approach taints the image of the Games for a lot of people, but the folk getting rich at the top simply don’t see it. Hence the good seats are empty when the ‘accredited sponsors’ don’t show up. Hence you can’t use words like ‘gold’ or ‘London’ without a whacking great fine. Hence McDonald’s have the exclusive right to sell chips in Stratford.

Read that last sentence again. That, my friends, goes against everything this nation stands for. Take your fries and shove them up your arse, I want a battered sausage and chips. 

It’s so un-British it hurts. And the horses don’t even get medals.