Make no mistake; there is much symbolism in the British Olympic touch relay but not the much hyped symbolism of human togetherness and good will to all. No, the current symbolism of London 2012 Olympic Relay can be more realistically be described as linking a growing wave of austerity and human misery that is spreading not just across the UK but the whole of Europe. As the Olympic torch passes from region to region, city to city, town to town, will the BBC and the rest of the cringing, servile media make reference to the boarded up shops in our high streets, the growing homelessness in our cities and the ever expanding ranks of unemployed and alienated youth? As for Britain, so for large swathes of Europe. How wonderfully ironic that just eight years ago Athens hosted the Olympic Games to the sound of great fanfare and corporate frenzy and now, amidst the abandoned stadia the Greek people face economic ruin and social desperation. Britain, under its current viscous Tory government, has every prospect of following the same path.


It is bleakly amusing that the whole Olympic Torch Relay circus was initiated not by some well meaning humanist or philanthropist but the decidedly anti-humanist German Nazi Party. From the ancient Greek arenas to the massed Germanic stadia packed with baying fascist enthusiasts, the modern Olympic torch relay was born. Today, admittedly on a lower scale, it is still all about whipping up national sentiment and creating a diversion from the impending global storm. Why, if the BBC didn’t give it so much coverage, I doubt if anyone in Britain could really give two hoots – everyone that is except the like of Lord Coe, David Cameron and Boris Johnson. What has Britain got to cheer about with a government led by an ideologically blinkered gang of free-marketeers bent on destroying the post war welfare state and opening up what’s left of our nationalised resources to their mates in the corporate world. Obsessed as they are with monarchy, celebrity and sport, the BBC is in total denial about what is really taking place in this country.


There was a nice little piece in the Sunday Mail of all places (20/5/12) lambasting the highly commercialised nature of the modern Olympics. Under the title, “Profit has cheapened this whole spectacle”, Hugh Hudson, the director of ‘Chariots of Fire’ had this to say:


‘Chariots of Fire is a heroic story of courage, loyalty and sacrifice – values that were once synonymous with the Olympic spirit. But now, as the Olympic torch begins its relay around Britain and ignites the nation’s Olympic fever, they are values that have been discarded. Once the Olympic Games were a display of talent and endeavour untainted by commercialism. The people who took part did so for the pleasure of competing to be the best in the world. They were amateurs who did not expect to be paid – the joy of pushing themselves beyond their limits was reward enough. That competitive spirit and drive to succeed at the highest level may still exist, but the entire fabric of the Games today is woven through with a desire for profit which has overtaken its ideals.’ It has undermined and cheapened the efforts of those participating and, in the process, taken away much of the joy of the sport.’


I like that expression very much – ‘woven through with a desire for profit’. It saddens me to have to watch Usain Bolt sell his image to Virgin enterprises for an extra pay cheque. It seems to cheapen his towering achievement. I don’t so much as condemn him, he is merely milking the system that surrounds him and setting himself up for the day when his legs will not carry him so far and so fast. It is the corporate global giants that should be condemned for hijacking every major sporting event on the planet and sullying them with its crass commercialism. Hudson makes the point clear;


‘The major purpose of the Olympics now seems to be to sell brands. Virtually every aspect has been auctioned off to the highest bidder…. Here even the torch relay is sponsored by Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. The 8,000 people who will carry the torch, many of whom have been chosen for their contribution to their communities, will only be allowed to keep it as a memento only if they pay £215. Torch bearers sponsored by companies will get theirs for free.’


So Hudson is absolutely correct. It’s all down to the cash nexus. Capitalism never rests. Why give something away as a just reward when you can turn a quick quid. Why charge £200 when you can push it up to £215. It’s all about the rate of profit as a certain old German gentleman once pointed out.


Credit to the Mail On Sunday  - they have a great graphic accompanying Hudson’s excellent article. There are three photographs of corporate buses that are travelling ahead of the Olympic torch relay every step of its eight thousand mile journey. Underneath the photos is the following caption:


‘It’s not only the Olympic torch-bearers who are making their way around Britain – the sponsors’ battle buses are getting on the act too. Heavily branded vehicles for Coca Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB drive five minutes ahead of the torch-bearers to whip up a festival atmosphere among the crowds and promote their products. PR teams on board the buses distribute gifts such as flags and Frisbees, and play loud music. Coca Cola has provided more than 1000 ‘Cheer Kits’ to relatives, which include branded banners. These have then appeared on live TV during interviews.’


The whole thing is highly manipulative, highly contrived and in the end, tacky and demeaning. Of course the absurdity of companies like Coca Cola being associated with a sporting event that is meant to leave a lasting sporting legacy is beyond comment. Coca Cola, with its obesity forming products,  is the very antithesis to healthy living that the London Games were meant to encourage.


So there we have it. From a bankrupted Greek nation to a recession ravaged Britain, the Olympic torch is truly laden with symbolism. And in case we should momentarily forget, bankrupted Lloyds TSB, bailed out with our hard earned tax-payers money, will be right along side the Olympic torch to remind us just how close to the precipice casino capitalism has taken us all. Their corporate crimes are truly Olympian in scale.


End JPK Copyright 20/5/12

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