So it has come to this. The much proclaimed Greatest Show on Earth, a sporting jamboree to celebrate extreme human endeavour and to lift the spirits of a planet ground down by recession and poverty will now, we learn, be protected by surface to air missiles. This has to be the final Olympic joke. Already the much heralded promises of an Olympic legacy are in the gutter. Grassroots and community sports have been savagely slashed in order to pay for grandiose stadia, the largest of which will be handed over to a couple of seedy pornographers under the cynical auspices of giving West Ham Football Club a new home. Corporate sponsors, the likes of McDonalds and Coca Cola, will stuff their bank balances even further by monopolising the advertising rights of the Olympics while the general populous grows ever more obese with extra large portions of McShite and the rest of their poisoned merchandise. And then there is Dow Chemicals, sponsor of the main stadium wrap-around. Dow is a chemicals giant bestrides the planet with a devil-may-care attitude second to none. Just ask the residents of Bhopal for their references if you want to get a feel for the real corporate nature of London 2012.


As for London itself, it will likely grind to a halt as the already overstretched transport system will implode under the extra pressures, while IOC officialdom will swan around town along specially designated Olympic lanes in their gas guzzling limousines. Not for them the austerity of the Olympic Village. No, they can only be satisfied with the swankiest and most expensive Park Lane Hotels.


And now we learn that in addition to being swamped by 20,000 FBI agents and their British equivalents, our fair city will need to protect itself from hostile incoming missiles by a battery of NATO surface-to-air missiles that will allow the grateful citizenry to go about their business and enjoy a once in a lifetime sporting bonanza. But, as Simon Jenkins astutely puts it in his damming London Evening Standard article 15/11/11;


As for guns, helicopters, surface to air missiles, no-fly-zones, shrieking cars and police convoys, they add little to security but spoil atmosphere and detract greatly from enjoyment.


Jenkins adds;


The transport police have promised officers with sub-machine guns deployed on the tubes during the Games. What use is a sub-machine gun on a crowded Tube platform, let alone on a train? It is an open invitation to a suicide bomber to have a gun fight.


Me, I'm just not buying into any of it. Seb Coe and his high flying organising junkies can keep their corporate games and the armed camp that London will become. I will content myself with some friendly ping in the local park- free of charge and open to all comers. But all this neurosis about security does beckon the larger question; just what alternative direction could the Olympic Games take. Clearly the Games have become too big and too dehumanising to be of any real human joy to anyone other than the corporate CEOs. But there are realistic alternatives.


Firstly we might consider junking the current format and ridding the Games of all those sports that already have high profile World Championships like football, tennis and rugby. Reduce the Games to just a few select athletic events which might include the decathlon, pentathlon, triathlon and some marathon events. Throw in the 100m and 200m sprints and you would create a unique event where individual athletes could pit themselves against each other irrespective of how wealthy or impoverished their home country might be; somewhat more of a level playing field than the current set up, where only the wealthiest cities can hope to stage such an over-bloated circus. This scaled down Olympics would allow far more countries to host the games without the crippling burden of huge unwanted infrastructure costs and the equally debilitating security costs. One venue, one security operation in one long weekend and everybody would be far happier.


Secondly, the whole corrupt bidding process should be junked in favour of a more rational rotation between continents. Those individual counties then wishing to host the Games could be decided by lot rather than the current murky world of backroom deals and corporate kickbacks.


Alternatively, if we are so wedded to the existing encyclopaedic collection of Olympic sports we might consider devolving each event to a different nation, for example boxing to Cuba, long distance running to Ethiopia and sprinting to Jamaica. This way every country could aspire to host a part of the Games without incurring the mind-numbing expenses. This would make the Olympics a truly international phenomenon without the nationalist hubris that accompanies the current Games. There would be no need for official corporate sponsors and the little guy might even get a look in to make an extra buck.


None of this small is beautiful stuff is remotely likely to materialise. We simply don't live in that sort of world. In the era of monopoly finance capitalism we can expect nothing more than an ever greater stranglehold of corporate interests on our leisure and sporting activities. This is the world we currently live in and change is only likely to happen when the current colossus implodes from its own irreconcilable contradictions. And when that inevitably happens, sport will be the last thing on our minds.


End JPK Copyright 3/12/11

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 May 2018 14:04 )