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No blood for spandex!

Will you join me in a special Christmas prayer? “Oh Lord, please spare us from the Olympics“:

London will be unable to host the Olympics in 2012 unless the Prime Minister gives the go-ahead within the next few weeks for a £1bn rail link, the capital’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, says.

Don’t do it, Tony. Just keep those Treasury purse strings tightly drawn and, with a bit of luck, the organisers of the whole foul jamboree will look for another city to infest.

No sane person could possibly want the Olympic carnival let loose on London. It is the equivalent of begging the government to add a zero or two to everybody’s tax bills for a decade or more. Quite aside from the gargantuan cost of hosting the wretched thing, we will also have to endure blanket security measures that render every resident under virtual house arrest and months and months of laboured ‘anti-drug’ messages on every medium imaginable. And, given the times we live in, the whole chabang will be saturated with enough stomach-churning PC mummery to induce a vomitting fit.

And for what? So that we can assailed with wall-to-wall, 24/7 coverage of a bunch of physical education students from Uzbekistan competing in a culturally-sensitive, enviromentally-friendly, non-judgemental, compassionate, caring, 1500m peace-march. Feh!

I do not want the sodding Olympics. Not in 2012. Not ever.

39 comments to No blood for spandex!

  • Verity

    Well, David, as you’ve said it all with such precision and wit, I don’t know why you even bother having a comments section on this thread. Who could disagree with a word?

    Why would London want to invite this creepy caravanserai to town? I know this isn’t normally a positive argument, but can anyone imagine, in their wildest dreams, Jacques Chirac inviting this tatty carnival to Paris? I think *not*.

  • David Crawford

    Verity,

    Actually, Paris is in there fighting for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The real fun is going to be next summer, watching with baited breath to see if the Athens games crash and burn before they are even held.

    I generally don’t like the Seattle City Council (a bunch of lefty-loonies and neighborhood palm-greasers) but they did do one good thing right. A couple of years ago the IOC came to town and put on a presentation as to what is expected of a host city for the summer games. The City Council ran that bunch of grifters out of town with a hearty “… and the horse you rode in on”.

  • > The real fun is going to be next summer, watching
    > with baited breath to see if the Athens games crash
    > and burn before they are even held.

    Anyone making a book on when the Athens games collapse into complete chaos? I predict they’ll BS their way through until a day or two after things have started before it all goes so horribly wrong that no one can pretend otherwise.

  • Verity

    David Crawford – Eeek! I’m shocked! *Shocked* at the news about Paris! I thought they had more taste..

    BTW, what does “baited breath” smell like? Or never mind. I don’t want to know.

  • I saw a photo of the present state of the Athens stadium the other day. There is no way that it will be ready on time. Four years ago, the stadium in Sydney had been hosting major sporting events already for about a year.

  • Not to mention that the Olympics is an event generally hosted by second tier cities that have big chips on their shoulders. As London does not fit either of those descriptions, why not tell the IOC to fuck off (as there are few organisations that deserve to be told that quite so warmly) and let some city that does host them.

  • The only way a city can host the Olympics these days without undue financial hardship is if they have a number of the facilities already in place (even if they have to be rebuilt, the facilities will then be guaranteed use.) This is why New York and San Francisco were actually good choices; between the professional sports venues and the universities, both cities have most of the facilities (and hotel space) already available.

    And my husband came up with a somewhat amusing (but fairly viable) suggestion for a Summer Olympics; instead of one city hosting it, why not have, say, western Oregon host it? Oregon is a huge track state, and cities up and down the I-5 corridor have excellent facilities (including the “fastest track in the world.”) If you want to do the Winter Olympics, all you have to do is go thirty miles east and hit the Cascades…

  • Verity

    It would be the Millennium Dome write really, really large. God!

    London’s already been famous and the focus of the world’s attention for 1500 years. Let Milton Keynes bid on it.

  • slowjoe

    Is there something more fueling the idea that <random British city> should hold the Olympics?

    Call me paranoid, but I’d imagine that campaigning for the Olympics is a potentially bottomless source of junkets. The money to fund Olympic bids has to come from taxpayers at some point. The other motivation for a politician is a set piece opportunity to look good to a world-wide audience.

    Blair is already perceived as caring more about the history books than the people of Britain or even members of his own party. If he (or anyone else pushing this idea) had spent a week using a rush-hour tube train to get to work, he’d never propose it.

    Enthusiasm for the Olympics in London is THE acid test to measure how out-of-touch a politician is.

  • mike

    Well well well! Let’s not forget that the Olympics includes pistol disciplines, the practicing of which is banned in GB. OK, so they made an exception to the law to hold the Commonwealth Games, but the British teams have to train abroad… The shooting sports have just been cut from Sport England’s priority list, despite winning 8 medals in the last 5 games (one of the best medal hauls for any sport), and the teams training abroad at mostly their own expense. Lots of bollox about facilities already being good & good club networks and omitting the training abroad thing…….

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    I was under the impression that the Atlanta games turned a tidy profit, and didn’t require all that much government funding (relative to other major sporting events).

    But of course, the tranzis and chattering classes hated the Atlanta games, because the funding was mainly down to corporate sponsorship. How dare these folks give money freely to fund the games; only when a government takes it from them to give to the games is it virtuous! ;-)

  • Manchester did an excellent job of hosting the Commonwealth games, and there was speculation that the same stadium might be considered for the Olympics. Then we all remembered that Manchester is up North, and having the games anywhere outside of London, never mind up North, would just never do.

    Ditto Wembley stadium.

  • David Crawford

    Verity,

    There you go. Read it and weep.

    Paris – 2012 Olympic Bid

  • Peter

    The Olympics are for countries (S. Korea, Austrailia) or cities (Atlanta, Barcelona) that want or need all that attention. In some respects it works. London, Paris or New York sure doesn’t need it.

    The Olympics, while a nice idea, have become a giant public spending boondoggle run by another permanent, unelected, bloated bureacracy a la UN or EU. Blehhh.

    I for one was pleased to no end when my town, DC, was eliminated from the running. After a decade of massive construction projects littering the place and tying up traffic, you end up with a lot of useless facilities (a velodrome that seats thousands! The ArcheryDome!) that need constant upkeep at public expense.

  • Mark

    Why would we want all these prima donnas in Oregon for God’s sake! The Olympics are for sports that nobody cares about. It’s where the rest of the world is force-fed niche sports. I’ve got no problem with people pursuing any sport they love, but why should I have to pay for it, if I don’t want to?

    The only thrill for me about the Olympics is waiting for the disaster to happen. Sort of like watching NASCAR. Athens should be a lot of fun.

  • One thing about the International Olympic Committee is that it actually tends to discourage cities that want to run the games through the private sector and that have exiting facilities. This is generally because they want all the facilities to be close together given the size of the event – this is not usually the case with pre-existing facilities. The last fully private games (Atlanta) were not considered to be terribly well run and on top of that the IOC wants the games to be backed by government (ie taxpayer pockets) if something goes wrong. In recent years they have managed to get plenty of cities to bid on these terms, so these are the terms they demand. (The Sydney games did cost taxpayers money, but didn’t sent the city/state/country bankrupt. It is a bit hard to tell how much money because the accounts are deliberately opaque and it is hard to say just what is the value of the facilities after the games. A good guess is that we are talking about half a billion pounds, however). Cost overruns on infrastructure projects in London almost always go so ridiculously overbudget that I cannot imagine this happening in London though. This would be a way to send the city bankrupt.

    And in particular the IOC demand that everything be in a single city (except for some of the football matches). If you don’t agree to that, they don’t take your bid seriously. This rule isn’t enforced with the winter games, though. The 2010 winter games will in fact be spread over western British Columbia, with most of the indoor events in Vancouver and most of the outdoor events in Whistler.

    I am all for letting the French win the games. Paris will only be two hours away by train by then, so anyone who actually want to go will have no difficult.

  • Whether you’d have one zero or two added to your tax bill depends on whether you’re paid weekly or monthly.

  • jk

    Colorado “won” the 1972 Winter Games and then had the temerity to vote “no thanks.” As a 12-year-old, I was devastated. But I am prousd of my home state now!

    Good luck,
    jk

  • Chris Josephson

    Many of our older cities just can’t easily accomodate an event like the Olympics. Too expensive to build the needed venues. Then there’s transport, lodging, etc..

    In Boston, MA. next summer the Democratic National Concention will have it’s big wing-ding where they formally choose who will run against Bush for president. Boston actually was in a bidding war for this.

    Now, the Democratic Convention is nowhere near the size and scope of the Olympics. But, just for this convention we already know the city will be in debt and transportation in-out and around the city will be a nightmare for a couple of weeks.

    For one thing, the streets in Boston are very narrow. This is because they used to be cow paths that just were made into streets. I’m thinking of being on vacation while this madness descends upon Boston.

    I’d definately not want something like an Olympics ever to come to Boston. Let some other city get all the ‘prestige’ plus the headaches that go with it.

    I feel bad for folks in London if the Olympics is held there. So much disruption to people who must get in and out for work.

  • David Gillies

    If the Athens games really do go pear-shaped, my Schadenfreüde will know no bounds. The Bubbles have been even more dodgy over the WOT than the French.

  • Slowjoe

    London is singularly unsuitable for the Olympics:

    It has security problems which it struggles with today.

    It has a transport system which is falling apart at the seams.

    It has a problem that housing is increasingly costing more than manual workers (the kind that build stadiums, and sell hotdogs within them) can barely afford.

    It completely lacks appropriate venues at this time.

    I’d speculate that holding the Olympics here would cause some businesses to consider moving out of the city. Utter madness!

  • Actually the kind of manual workers that build stadiums are very well renumerated; they are, that is, if you want to have your stadium built on time and without fuss (hint to Athens, there.)

    London needs the Olympics like an apeture in the cranial cavity. I was living in Sydney in 2000 and it coped alright; but Sydney is different to London, and it did cost the NSW taxpayers a tidy sum.

  • Dave the Australian

    I would say anything will look great after Athens, just like everything will look bad after Sydney.

  • Alan

    The Athens olympics will be the best ever. Hell, the athletes can even help build the various facilities while they compete (or the manual labour takes part). Javelin throwing replaced by throwing the scaffold pole – athletes racing round the track carrying builders hods full of bricks… great entertainment.

    IMO a London Olympics could be a repeat of the Millenium Dome experience (shudder) with costs not dissimilar to those for the Scottish Parliament building (take the estimated cost, multiply by three and that gives you the starting point for actual spend).

  • “(take the estimated cost, multiply by three and that gives you the starting point for actual spend)”

    How true. When pricing large construction projects, the following rule has proven to be fairly accurate:

    1) If you’ve done a similar job before, multiply your estimated cost by pi/2.

    2) If somebody else has done a similar job before, multiply your estimated cost by pi.

    3) If nobody has done a job like this before, multiply your estimated cost by 2*pi.

    Several major projects over the years have followed this rule.

  • Verity

    Actually, I’m surprised and pleased to learn that there are others who feel about the Olympics as I do. I thought I was the only one who thought it a giant boondoggle and a mind-numbing bore. Why the population of Britain, for example, is assumed by the media to care about whether a Ukranian or a Latvian wins the trapeze prize or whatever or Nigeria or Ethiopa wins the X hundred metre race and wants to watch it on TV is a total puzzle.

    Whooooooooooooooooooo cares?

    And why should we care about “spirit of the Olympics”? Even aside from the drug taking and the money – even if it were all squeaky clean – so *what*?

    It’s a “soft” (i.e. supposedly non-political) furtherance of the one worlder tranzi agenda and nothing more.

  • Dave O'Neill

    I was under the impression Sydney had been on standby to step in if Athens screwed it up?

    Is that still the case?

  • Bolie Williams IV

    My home city (Houston, TX) was trying to get the Olympics, as well. I’m sure glad we got dropped. Our idiot citizens voted to give the Houston Olympic committee a budget to begin the begging process. So we started out in the hole from day one. I’m pissed enough that we got the Superbowl. I wouldn’t care if it wasn’t taxpayer subsidized.

    I have to pay for it but I have no chance in hell of getting a ticket even if I wanted to.

    Bolie IV

  • Dark Side Luke

    Word is, the Americans made money off the whole deal in Atlanta. But then, they know how to do that sort of thing.

    Given the downside of having it become a political and security nightmare, an opportunity for trade unions to take everyone hostage, and the likely hood of a government bureaucrat representing the taxpayer’s interest, [shudder] it’s probably a good thing to give it a miss.

  • Percy Dovetonsils

    Thinking out loud here… let’s say an increasing number of democratic regions act with the wisdom of the people in Colorado, and tell the Olympics to go stuff themselves. Conceivably, then, the Games would be increasingly welcome only in countries that are not democratic, or where the government runs roughshod over the wishes of the citizens.

    The Zimbabwe Olympics, anyone? The Syria Games?

  • speedwell

    I LIVED in Atlanta during the Olympics there. It was horrible.

    Some money was made, yeah, if you don’t count in all the businesses that overinvested in crap and ballyhoo and wound up all but going under (the place I worked for laid off people because the crowds didn’t buy everything in sight as planned). Or then you had downtown people kicked out of their apartments so the landlords could rent them to out-of-towners at inflated prices (finally made illegal by the city). And then you had the insane lottery in which local residents had to compete for a severely limited number of tickets because the majority had been set aside for visitors.

    And lots more I don’t have time to go into. I now live in Houston, though, and when I heard the Olympics might be coming here, I wanted to vomit. Believe me, you will be much better off without the “Mongol invasion.”

    Just for the record, incidentally, I’m pro-business; I have not a thing against companies choosing to make investments. Lousy, corrupt, irrational investments based on inflated sugarplum dreams of wishful greed, that’s what I mind.

  • Guy Herbert

    Percy Dovetonsils, I couldn’t be happier if the Olympics ended up always in some nasty nationalistic dictatorship. That’s where they belong.

    The reason governments want to hold them is the same whether it is Comrade Robert Mugabe or Comrade Tony Blair: national prestige, a chance to put on a bunfight and show off for fellow leaders and their adoring people. They may sometimes attempt to justify it through appeal to “economic benefits”, but they do that for everything– occaisionally with more truth.

    I imagine that if all the flags and anthems were taken out and the team events de-nationalised, many countries that currently heavily sponsor national squads would lose interest in even participating.

  • chitrader

    I grew up in Los Angeles during the 1984 Olympics, and that turned out to be a great success. Not only did it turn a profit, but the proceeds funded a bunch of local sports programs that are still going on today. Since everyone was predicting traffic Armageddon, half the locals fled the city for the duration of the games and as a result traffic was never better!

    I also heard L.A. was a potential backup for Athens in case it went tits up, by the way.

  • Verity

    Atlanta and LA are car-driven cities in the sunbelt. They’re new. They have vast freeway systems, easy to navigate cloverleafs, accommodation in the form of at least a couple of motels at almost every off-ramp.

    This is not the case in ancient European cities. London is 2,000 years old. London doesn’t need the publicity. Britain doesn’t need the publicity.

    I still don’t understand how the Olympics manages to mug the entire media for the duration of this vast non-event. Surely the number of people who actually sit in front of the telly and spend a day watching people running around race tracks (in glorious spandex!) and jumping, rather than just catching the highlights on the evening news, must be very, very limited? Limited to the unemployed, even? Who don’t have large discretionary incomes?

    I don’t get it.

  • ed

    No idea Verity.

    I know that I haven’t watched more than 10 minutes of any particular Olympics in over 20 years. I find most of the events utterly boring. Those that aren’t boring are over pretty quickly so the enjoyment doesn’t really last. Into this heady mixture is added the leavening of meticulously irrelevant and incompetent gassing by any idiot with a microphone.

    Frankly the only person I know of who watches the Olympics is the daughter of a friend. She avidly watches the women’s gymnastics and ice skating.

    As for Athens. It’s going to be an absolute horror show. Does it bother anyone that every security detail there, other than the Greek police, will be unarmed? Does it bother anyone else that the Greek police seems largely incompetent? Does it bother anyone that the Greek national government has had a close relationship with a native terrorist group for the last 50+ years?

    Personally I’m not going to travel anywhere near Athens or Greece during the Olympics. I’m betting that it’ll be an absolute disaster even without a terrorist incident. I’m also betting that there will be at least one terrorist attack.

  • ed

    Hmmm.

    Here’s a question. Who actually makes the money off the Olympics? In many, or most, cases the local taxpayers have to ante up the money for new facilities, security requirements and the overall expenses of simply hosting several thousand people. Yet the IOC seems to be the ones who not only don’t contribute any cash but are the ones who profit from endorsements, sales and TV.

    Is there really any benefit for a city to host the Olympics? Sure the city will get some exposure to tourists and such, but wouldn’t it simply be far less expensive to just hand out travel discounts to tourists? If it costs about $500 million USD to host the Olympics then taking that same money and freely handing out $1,000 USD rebates to tourists would garner as much or more interest wouldn’t it? If this program cost $500 million USD then you’d have 500,000 visitors, which would be a success under any circumstances.

    Is it really that worthwhile to beg the IOC for the right to spend horrendous amounts of money? Or are there other ways that would be far more effective? Frankly I think a city that took that same amount of money and then coordinated with travel agencies and airlines could end up with far more attention and tourists than could ever be gained from the Olympics. Additionally you could arrange for the rebates/discounts so that you have a relatively even flow of tourists rather than a horde all at once.

    Curious.

  • Jonathan

    How about having the Olympics in Riyadh? They’ve never had it and by golly they deserve it.

  • Verity

    Oh, god, Jonathan, that was funny! It doesn’t bear expanding on (the spandex situation), but I’m sure we all have our thoughts…

    ed – your logic is unimpeachable. Also, London cannot take any more tourists under any circumstances. Not one more tourist. Tens of thousands more tourist flooding in? mmmm…. no.
    Not even to accord St Tony of Blair some exciting photo ops. Given their history with the dressing up box and Nehru jackets and strange, Hinduja brothers gifted (size-too-small) saris, Tone and Cherieee may threaten to pose in spandex. So train your eyelids to close really fast.

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