Monday, 25 August 2008

Verdict on the Olympic Games

There is quite a lot I want to say on the subject of the Olympic Games just finished and on London 2012. I'm going to try something different here: I don't normally talk to myself but to make this blog entry more readable (hopefully!) I am going to pose myself a number of questions and come up with some considered but probably controversial answers. So here goes

Before we start on the Olympics Brian, what is your personal attitude to sport?

I have to admit, and I think I have stated this before on this blog, that I was and am an absolute duffer at sport. My hand to eye co-ordination is very poor which doesn't help. And sadly at school sports facilities were very poor indeed compared with today's expectations, my teachers did the best they could bless them but they were limited in what they could do. For the boys it was just soccer and cricket with a little bit of athletics squeezed in between those two sports. Much later in life I took to road running, competed in several races including I think it was four marathons. Never set the world on fire with my times but did boost my confidence and helped my physical fitness.

Of course a lot of non sporting people got glued to the TV watching the Olympics. Were you one of them?

Afraid not! I did watch the two diving events in which Tom Daley competed but that was about it. Saw many of the highlights on the news bulletins but that was as far as my interest went.

So you got fed up with the BBC's wall to wall coverage of the event.

Not at all. I'm not a slave to the TV and don't have a problem with blanket coverage of the event which after all is only for a period of just over two weeks once every four years. As is the way though of the BBC they have gone way over the top with the number of people they sent to China. Did they have to send some of their top newsreaders to be anchormen over there? That must have cost the licence payers a fortune.

The opening and closing sequences were spectacular by common agreement. What was your opinion of them?

I have to say that I saw neither of them (at the time of the opening of the Games I was returning from a funeral in Liskeard). But from the extracts on the news and reports in the media China evidently did a fantastic job. More importantly it would seem that the competitors were well provided for - at least there don't seem to be any adverse reports, none that I'm aware of anyway. All in all it appears that China did a brilliant job in staging the 2008 Games.

But I believe that you were annoyed about the young girl singing at the opening. What was that about?

Too right I was! Not about the young lady herself. No it was the revelation during the Games that not only was she miming the song but in fact it was an entirely different girl who had recorded it! This other person we were told wasn't pretty enough to be seen singing. This out and out dishonesty really does anger me.

That small point apart you had no quarrel with China staging the Games?

Wrong! China should never have staged the Games at this time! One of the criteria as I understand it of China staging the Olympics this year was for them to do something about their record on human rights. They've done nothing. The International Olympics Committee should have insisted on seeing some evidence of improvement before giving China the Games. They didn't. Not that I expect that to weigh on the consciences of the IOC. The trouble is that the media (typically!) have been seduced by the show put on by China and are prepared to turn a blind eye to such matters. Shame on them!

Now then, what about the performance of Team GB? What's your opinion there?

A colossal achievement, no doubt about that. This country definitely needs something to smile about. What with terrible weather, a dire economic outlook and a government that is hardly functioning we have been in urgent need of some good news. Although fairly indifferent to national sport myself I do recognise its importance to the way the country feels about itself.

And we came fourth in the medal table!

Indeed we did! Interestingly not only fourth in terms of 'golds' but fourth also in the total number of medals gained, if that is the way you think our position ought to be assessed. I don't know how many of the World's nations competed but note that 87 countries all told finished with one or more medals, that was good to see! One other thing to mention - part way through the Games some Aussies were being interviewed and they all did Britain down saying they would finish above us. In the event Australia finished behind us (was it sixth place?). They'll be sore about that!

It sounds as if the members of Team GB are going to get showered with honours. That's a good thing isn't it?

No, its absolute rubbish! Apart from awards for extreme bravery such as the George Cross for instance which relate to a single episode gongs are normally reserved for those who have achieved something over a long period. If an individual brings back gold three or four times from successive Olympics then I don't have too much of a problem of them being rewarded. But it is patently stupid to go about things as is being suggested; if we had won only half the gold medals that we did would the successful entrants have been any less worthy of gaining honours? Of course not. But they wouldn't have because our overall total of medals wouldn't have been nearly so significant. Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't our cricket team all get honours when we fairly narrowly beat Australia in England only to be absolutely torn apart by them when we went down under? No, once again the euphoria of the moment is likely to cause another ridiculous decision to be made.

How about Gordon Brown? He must be a happy man.

Gordon is genuinely enthusiastic about sport I think and really is pleased with the medal haul. Any prime minister would enjoy their moment in the limelight as a result of some sporting success. Brown has 1001 problems heading his way this autumn and I don't begrudge him this little bit of reflected glory - not that it had much to do with him!

So now on to London 2012. Something to look forward to?

Until recently I was 100% against the London Games. Now it is about ... 95% against (I must be mellowing in my old age!). Although I can't help thinking that the unbelievable amount of money spent on staging a Games could be much better employed elsewhere and a permanent venue (Athens?) could be used I do appreciate the excitement that will be engendered by London 2012 and the spin offs other parts of Britain will enjoy such as Olympic training camps for example.

Well there you have it, these are some of my thoughts. This has been good for me to use this technique on this entry to try and get some sort of balanced and coherent overview of the subject. Maybe I will try it again sometime!

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