13 August, 2012

Olympics: how was it for you?

Let's begin with 'What was it?'

An obvious answer, do you think? A sporting competition. Citius Altius Fortius?

So why are women competing? Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against women competing but they are not as Fast, High or Strong as men, so what are they doing in a merely sporting contest? And the Paralympics: I mean who goes to see that? Well, they've sold 2 million tickets, and many millions more will watch it on television.

So, not just a sporting contest. It's a spectacle, of course, with its ceremonies, its beach volleyball, its synchronised swimming, but that's not the whole story, either. What are we to make of the opening ceremony or, again, the paralympics? It is said that London was awarded the Olympics because of its central message of promoting sport for everyone. It's a social statement.

So a sporting competition which gets people to watch in the age of short attention span by creating a spectacle and by promoting a quasi-political sense of inclusiveness. They don't tell you that in the publicity.

As to how it went, it was immeasurably better than I thought it would be. I feared disaster, either through terrorism or breakdown. The London transport system can barely cope on an average working day, but it worked well due to the usual travellers being advised to stay at home, a sort of 'Family Hold Back'. I resented the 'Olympics only' or Zil-lane on the roads but in the end the roads were empty and even the hugely important Jacques Rogge tried the Docklands Light Railway.

Of course mass crowds and billions of TV watchers are like a hyperactive baby and have to be entertained constantly. And, incredibly, the British, with a reputation for organisation close to Italy's, coped brilliantly. For a fortnight we were fed a never-ending diet of strange and familiar sports, colourful spectacle and shining happy people, as the song says (the band R.E.M. should have played at the closing ceremony).

I don't think my grumpy cynicism was misplaced, but I am delighted to see I was wrong. Lord Coe (will he now be Earl Coe?) organised the thing brilliantly, with help from massed volunteers and the British Army and Britain this morning can feel very, very pleased with itself.

It's not just the medals, because it isn't just a competition.

1 comment:


SCORING the events and pagaentry - A TEN PLUS on a 10-scale for host country. ** However, minus FIVE on that same 10-scale, for those never ending, inexcuseable NBC-tv on scene and New York City directed decision- making for inexplicable and horrible, countless 'tape delay re-telecasts' with countless, poor broadcast 'promos', making any scheduling of viewers' time an absolute impossibility - during those "Closing Ceremonies". ** Had the impression, Al Michaels shall 'opt out' of his contract to re- join that network in Sophi, Russia -- for Winter 2014 Olympic Games some 18 months hence! ** Read London Mayor BORIS JOHNSON's Monday morning column in "The Daily Telegraph" - on August 13th edition.-30-