Olympics and Government
It seems there are others who are equally mithered by the goings on of the IOC and our inept leaders. Here is an extract from Simon Jenkins’s article yesterday.
‘What the Victorians reinvented as a herbivore festival of amateur athletics has become a parody of Hitler's chauvinist hysteria.' The stakes are too low. The Olympic Games were originally held so that young men could prepare for war. Now young men are recalled from war to prepare for the Olympic Games. It is the politics of the nation state gone mad. The commercialism, the heavy-handed security, the ostentatious plutocracy and phony patriotism of the modern Olympics are out of all proportion to the cause. What the Victorians reinvented as a herbivore festival of amateur athletics has become a parody of Hitler's chauvinist hysteria. It starts with flags and anthems, moves on to medal tables and "heroes", and ends as the most important thing on Earth.
This week at least they sent in the clowns. Who can blame G4S? They have done what everyone has done with a nose in this trough. Offered a crazy amount of money to guard a dozen venues for a month "in partnership" with the Games' organising committee Locog, they took the money and ran. There was no threat remotely commensurate with a £1bn security budget, and security anyway devolves on to government. The word partnership is in this case a euphemism for someone else taking the blame.
This week, with teams arriving for what has become a festival of chauvinist public expenditure, Locog's strategy – of not being interviewed or held accountable for anything to anyone – paid off. The home secretary, the defence secretary and the culture secretary all took the stand to defend the delivery company's contractual negligence, on everything from lax security and soldiers' billets to bus navigation. Ministers even referred to Locog as "we".
Early in the London bid process I attended a conference at which the Blairite talk was of holding a "new games", even a "people's Olympics". They would put an end to the International Olympic Committee's self-importance, elitism and expense, showing how any world city could afford to host the Olympics by using existing facilities. There should be no question of the Olympics imposing a "white elephant cost", as on Montreal, Athens and Beijing. Sport would be made to fit the city, not the other way round.
The political ambition of Tony Blair and his team to "win" the games from France blew that to the winds. The IOC's demands for special stadiums, venues near five-star hotels and Guantánamo-style "fortified villages" were conceded. Huge sums were spent on consultants and buildings. The budget soared. London was sacrificed to extravagance and political kudos, and told it was lucky.
The Games were thus vulnerable to Britain's prevailing securocrat paranoia, as well as to the logistical chaos that comes with disrupting a large and busy city for a whole summer. There are guards who speak no English and drivers who have never heard of Tower Bridge. Only now are Londoners waking up to the statutory scope that parliament conceded to the IOC back in 2006. It could command London's police, traffic, advertising and business activity. It could enjoy unlimited access to the British exchequer. A £3bn budget swiftly ballooned to £9bn.
London is now being given a taste of what an unaccountable world government might be like, an Orwellian world of Zil lanes and G4S, private regulators and Locog inspectors roaming the streets, tearing down political banners and Pepsi ads. Not since William of Orange arrived with his Dutch army in 1688 has London's government been surrendered so completely to an alien power.
The cabinet and mayor have seemed so petrified that any disruption to the Games might cast aspersions on London's "brand" (or perhaps on them) that a month of enforced economic recession is worth the pain. The cost in displaced tourism and lost business of hosting the Games must be enormous, and wholly beyond the direct cost of the facilities.
How this can be matched by £13bn of extra business attributed to the Olympic Games by David Cameron last week is a mystery. It is as plausible as Stalin's report of Comrade Stakhanov's daily coal output.” Simon Jenkins, Guardian 18/7/12
Here is what Blair and Jowell surrendered to the IOC. It is from an article in Vanity Fair.
“The full stipulations of the Olympic contract, which were made public in December 2010 by an East London activist and researcher named Paul Charman, following two years of Freedom of Information requests, contain tens of thousands of binding commitments. To comply with its terms, London must designate 250 miles of dedicated traffic lanes for the exclusive use of athletes and “the Olympic Family,” including I.O.C. members, honorary members, and “such other persons as may be designated by the IOC.” (These traffic lanes are sometimes called “Zil lanes,” alluding to the Soviet-era express lanes in Moscow reserved for the politburo’s favorite limousines.) Members of the Olympic Family must also have at their disposal at least 500 air-conditioned limousines with chauffeurs wearing uniforms and caps. London must set aside, and pay for, 40,000 hotel rooms, including 1,800 four- and five-star rooms for the I.O.C. and its associates, for the entire period of the Games. London must cede to the I.O.C. the rights to all intellectual property relating to the Games, including the international trademark on the phrase “London 2012.” Although mail service and the issuance of currency are among any nation’s sovereign rights, the contract requires the British government to obtain the I.O.C.’s “prior written approval” for virtually any symbolic commemoration of the Games, including Olympic-themed postage stamps, coins, and banknotes.” Michael Joseph Gross, Vanity Fair
The message to average Londoners seems to be, piss off and leave us your city to do with as we want. It also seems to be the case at other venues too. Reports from Weymouth show that any possible view of the sea has been restricted by locog to avoid anyone getting a free view of the sailing or some rowing events.
When you can’t see the sea for free, it is time to tell them where to stuff their games.