Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who are the Games About?

I see the chairman of the International Olympic Committee has just arrived in England. It strikes me as odd that the people who matter in all this, the athletes, some of whom (probably a small minority, it’s true) make a genuine living by selling their skill and the spectacle they are able to make of it to people who are prepared to pay to watch them perform, which is why there is any interest in this event in the first place… er, lost the thread. Yes, sorry, the athletes/competitors, the people everyone goes to watch, have to make do with a shared room in a little apartment block in Stratford (no, not that one, but a less-than-inspiring place in East London) while the glorified office boys from the IOC get private jets, Zil lanes, police outriders (if the press is to be believed), and suites at the Hilton. I bet there was spontaneous rejoicing, too.

I imagine all this was agreed before London was offered the Games, as we can’t have the great quangocrats (and the IOC is one of the biggest quangos in the world) troubled by interaction with hoi polloi, the mere rabble who pay, and not willingly, for them to live like kings. Again, if the press is to be believed, the Pope, Kofi Annan or Barack Obama would be embarrassed to demand a reception like that (and I have no doubt he did demand it).

PT Barnum, Kerry Packer, Alan Stanford (is that the name), L’Equipe and many others have taken athletic performers and created a show through which they could all make far more money than they could have done within them, but the president of the IOC is not an entrepreneur, however much he likes to think so. If he were an entrepreneur he would make the Olympics a commercial success or go home. He can’t do that. He is a bureaucrat with delusions of grandeur, living high on the hog off the taxes of people who can ill afford to keep him.

The reason this happens, the reason that the office boy gets the star treatment and the stars are herded like cattle is that the office boys control the money. Other people’s money, of course. It’s just so much easy to spend when you don’t have to worry about where it’s coming from or what the consequences will be.

And wasn’t it finished off with unpaid child labour? Stalin would be proud.


Vincent said...

Cingram, you seem to have become Spanish now. I thought ex-pats would be more patriotic. Over here, we've had enough griping. Did you see the opening ceremony? Not just a great wonder, not just an excellent show-off for Britain, but with uplifting and compassionate messages too.

CIngram said...

I know, the post is a collection of negative rantings on what is, or should be, the first day of a very enjoyable couple of weeks. I know that most people in Britain don't share my misgivings, and are generally happy with the way the money has been spent (and I don't pay tax in the UK, so I can't really complain).

Even so, the grandstanding of officials who live on public funds is galling when I, and everyone else, wants to see the sportsmen and women perform. I like a number of sports and this is sport of the highest level, so I'll be watching, and cheering on the best in many events. And I hope the Games are a success.

I haven't watched the opening ceremonies for many years, I always found them dull.

On the subject of ex-pattery, I probably have gone native to some extent, but from observation of other ex-pats I know here, the alternative is to spend your time gazing in puzzlement at the world around you, unable either to understand it or be part of it. Such people miss out on most of life, and effectively shut themselves off from the society they live in. I couldn't live that way.

Vincent said...

"The grandstanding of officials who live on public funds" is one big reason why most Brits want out of the EU. Jacques Rogge, as a Belgian, is hardly distinguishable from the other Eurocrats who have colonised that country.

You "know that most people in Britain don't share my misgivings, and are generally happy with the way the money has been spent"? How?

From the day London was announced as the venue, 7 years ago, I groaned & thought it would be a millstone round our necks. And that was before the financial crashes. But as with the Blitz, Londoners and the rest of us must find the silver lining.

This opening ceremony was anything but dull. I saw it as a movie on TV. It was a highly sophisticated movie, but largely enacted live, by some miracle of organisation. If you took out the parade of 204 countries' athletes, you'd get something worth watching on DVD for its own sake, years hence, as a drama representing the history and spirit of Britain. I urge you to see it.

Vincent said...

Here's a good link:

Vincent said...

And, while I'm at it:

CIngram said...

You "know that most people in Britain don't share my misgivings, and are generally happy with the way the money has been spent"? How?

Well, from my perusings of the British press and conversations with family and friends over there I got the strong impression that I was in something of a minority on this, and that most people were proud to be hosting the Games. But you are in a better position than me to judge that.

I always hoped France would be given that 'privilege', because of the inevitable spiralling cost and the disruption it would cause. I enjoy the Games themselves very much.

I'm torn between my love of watching people in shorts do things very well, my contempt for self-important public figures, my distaste for the vast sums of money, years of chaos in London, the fierce repression of trade and normal existence that Parliament has been complicit in, and my fervent hope that Britain doesn't make a mess of this (we won't, of course, we're very good at this sort of thing). Since I don't live in London and I'm not paying for it I should probably just relax and enjoy the show. I don't have to notice what the press is waffling on about-but then my life would be just a bit emptier without something to moan about:-).

Thanks for the links, by the way, but my twisted coathanger* is not up to video streaming, so I'll have to wait a while to watch them.

*The coathanger is actually a USB modem (what I think is known as a dongle) which I have for use on the farm, but nestling in the mountains miles from anywhere it's very hard to get 3G connection.