When the announcement came from Singapore that London was actually getting the 2012 Olympics a shudder went down my back… what if it all goes badly, badly wrong
After the Herculean efforts of Seb Coe and the ringing celebrity endorsements of such cultural luminaries as David Beckham and Martine McCutcheon we have been awarded the gold medal of staging the 2012 Olympics. The music has died down but the self congratulatory chattering is still ringing throughout the nation. Britain has undoubtedly been transformed into a more progressive and forward thinking nation under the leadership and guidance of Tony Blair, but equally it has developed into an ungraceful blundering and spin powered entity desperately relying upon the driving force of celebrity and glamour ahead of genuine values. As a nation day by day our identity is merging with that of America, but not our values. We expected the Olympics and lo and behold we got them, but now is the time where the genuine hard work begins. Alas I fear for our genuine ability to complete the expensive facilities on time and to then ensure that there is a sufficient crowd to watch the pole vault, particularly if the building proceedure matches that of the chaotic completion of the new Wembley.
Personally I find it hard to buy into the BBC broadcast dream that the wall to wall coverage of the Olympics shall be showing our vastly successful young athletes competing at the highest level possible. The billions being spent on this event will undoubtedly aid the state of sport in Britain, but we really shouldn’t convince ourselves that there is a well developed Athletics infrastructure on which to build a successful games from. The state of atheltics in Britain is ultimately shambolic despite the success of an aging Kelly Holmes and a now almost fully retired rowing team, a fact which has frequently been highlighted by the people actually operating athletics at the ground level (or as I like to call it reality). The dream and delusion that is being perpetuated by the cult of celebrity and the eponymous ring-leader of this religion, David Beckham, has succeeded in blinding the Olympic Committee. I refuse however to be blinded by the glamour and glean of another grotesquely expensive display from the Blair brigade. We are riding the crest of a wave but a quick look down and in a Wile-e-Coyote manner we will note that there is nothing grounding our worldwide campaign of self importance. The closure of the Longbridge car plant in Birmingham was the final straw of the decline in our manufacturing industry and ultimately our massive decline in visible exports is going to harm Britain’s ability to fund our vast commercial desires.
I hope to be proved wrong by a fantastic display of passionate athletes, huge crowds and ultimately success on the track. However when the crowds leave and the gold medals sit on the shelf the question will have to be raised of whether we should be investing more in the direct facilities for the young athletes of today. We need to be wary of the current state of competitive atheltics and the limited regularity and prominence of these events does not bode well for the success of the 2012 games. Maybe when the Olympics finally come around we will have implemented a more effective system of getting our youngsters fit, ensuring decent levels of sport in all schools and a greater appreciation of atheltics within our country. Whilst I’m not sure that will happen I am certain golden ambassadors Tony Blair and David Beckham will be there to open more pantheons of fleeting prosperity which will eventually rot and waste like the Dome at the moment.