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Clarkson wrong

Though I am without a car, and without a prospect of a car, I love Jeremy Clarkson. The motoring information is not useful, but the snide asides are glorious. And usually spot-on (if exaggerated for effect).

But here the striving for effect goes horribly wrong:

The Olympics are a test designed to quantify and celebrate human physical achievement. They are not an opportunity for a bunch of stupid, left-wing, weird-beard failures to make political points.

Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy. For once, you have missed the point entirely. The Olympics are only the grand jamboree they are because they provide an opportunity to make stupid political points for collectivist monsters with funny macho facial hair. (Moustaches mostly — you should recall cuddly Ken is a recovering moustache-wearer — though the beards do get a look in.) Any human physical achievement is the incidental means not the end.

For anyone who doubts me on this, imagine an alternative Olympic movement. There are no anthems; no national teams; no equipment the competitors cannot personally carry; sponsorship, fine, but of individual achievers not collectives. The venue is chosen by lot, 18 months in advance only, among those places that already have facilities adequate for staging the narrower set of events, so there’s no auction using other people’s money.

Would such an event still constitute a celebration of human physical achievement? Would there still be sporting heroes and heroines? You bet.

Would it be beamed 20 hours a day to the state television channels of all the world’s nationalist socialist régimes (i.e. almost all the world’s r&eacute:gimes)? No. It would be relegated to the status (too high for my taste, but that’s the market) of ordinary sports programming, with each sport taking its usual audience share. The main news would turn back to “Prime Minister greets Chinese Foreign Minister and signs Human Rights Treaty” news, where a quota of flags, anthems, parades, and national self-importance could be assured.

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8 comments to Clarkson wrong

  • John East

    Apologies for maybe not quite getting your point, but after reviewing the source article I think Clarkson is spot on. I remember all the PC hoo-ha over the Millennium dome, and it was clear to me right from the very beginning that the location and minimal car parking policy would doom the whole project. It’s strange that the environmental Whacko’s have never acknowledged this fact, so we are doomed to repeat history with the PC Olympics.

    I don’t think I can take much more of all this crap. Why don’t we just get on with it, close all roads, scrap all of our cars and all energy consuming appliances, and return to the stone age. At least then I might get some peace from the whining and winging environmentalists.

    The biggest irony of all is that, what we do in the UK is now largely irrelevant, the baton has long since passed to India, China and the Far East. When we have settled back into our daub and wattle round houses, global warming, peak oil, and a thousand other environmental horror stories will still come to pass, more or less as they would have done if we hadn’t embarked on our national guilt trip in the first place.

  • simon

    I’m not sure the Olympics are shown so extensively because of the ‘market’. I’ve never, ever heard anyone mention a forthcoming Olympics, or heard anyone actively looking forward to them, but I’ve often heard people saying they are looking forward to the new football season, test matches, Wimbledon and golf tournaments. If the Olympics weren’t shown on BBC I doubt ITV would even bid for them. If the next Olympics didn’t happen most Brits wouldn’t notice. If the next football world cup didn’t happen, there’d be a huge outcry. The Olympics are like the United Nations. nobody is sure what they are for, but the BBC likes them so they must be important.

  • guy herbert


    The “market” I advert to is the market for sports programming generally. (Soccer, et al. Endless soccer.) My main point is precisely yours, that Olympic ballyhoo has nothing to do with sport, everything to do with nationalism.

    John East,

    Clarkson’s point about PC-ness was not what I was dissenting from, but his assumption about the purpose of the Olympics. That you have so accepted the deceptive rhetoric of ‘international competition’ that you can write: “the baton has long since passed to India, China and the Far East,” suggests why you aren’t getting the point. It is exactly that corporatist discourse I’m attacking.

  • John East

    I think I understand your point now Guy, but I still find it difficult to get too upset by the politicisation of the Olympics. When you get down to the basics, and putting drugs to one side, we still see dedicated athletes breaking world records, and this is the aspect of the show that I appreciate. To win a gold medal, particularly if a world record is broken at the same time, requires a level of dedication, single mindedness, perhaps even pathological fanaticism on the part of the athlete that I doubt their motives are sullied by the extraneous froth and political posturing which is part and parcel of the modern Olympics.

    Simon, you are evidently not an Olympics fan. Fair enough, but I suspect that there is more of a market for it than you concede, although I agree coverage on the BBC is no barometer of popularity. I remember seeing, many years ago, a day long BBC outside broadcast of a show jumping event. When the camera inadvertently panned around the arena it revealed a “crowd” consisting of the proverbial one man and his dog, plus maybe half a dozen horsey women in riding boots. But then again, just broadcasting what is popular, (24 hour premier league?), would also drive me to despair.

  • Off topic on Clarkson, but I see no post yet on Blair Kyoto u-turn.

  • guy herbert

    Curious how that’s not appeared in the mainstream news media, isn’t it? I had to look quite carefully to find what Nigel meant.

    Clarkson should be told. There is also some tenuous relevance to the main post, in that it is another example of what happens when unrealistic internationalist fetish gets mixed up with international power politics: a contrast between what states say and what they do.

  • Jack Maturin

    Clarkson wrong? Surely ye jest. His Jezzerness is biologically predetermined to be right about everything. He occasionally makes misjudgements, but he’s never really wrong, per se. Yes, he’s a supporter of Concorde, the technocrat goose that crushed a million British enterprises with the corporation tax extractions needed to fund David Frost’s trips across the Pond, and yes, he does say he prefers Europe to the US, and yes, he does choose to do work for the BBC…errrr. Blimey. I’ve been blinded by the frizz. You know Guy, maybe you were right after all! 🙂 (Apologies, your Jezzerness.) Oh well. At least he’s mostly right. When the revolution comes, I’m sure he’ll still be on the side of the angels. Make mine an Aston Martin.

  • Tim


    I always look forward to them, but you are right, I am a bit of an exception. Then again, I’m as happy with the world athletics, which are lower profile and yet have better competition and without the communist-like opening ceremonies.

    I’m not supporting the games, though. If someone else in a similar time zone (eg Paris) wants to pick up the bill (and “put their city on the map” ahem) then we should have let them have it. Those who wanted to watch it could have hopped on the Eurostar if they wanted, while those who didn’t could maybe take their family for a long weekend break by the sea with the money saved.

    A lot of northerners I’ve spoken to are pretty much opposed. They figure that the cost of them going to an event in time and money will be too high.

    And John, speaking of empty stadia, there were plenty in Athens too.