Olympics. A fantastic celebration, but, on a more sceptical note.......for who's benefit?
9 August 2012
Like many others around the world my eyes have been glued to the TV watching the Olympics. I absolutely love the sports , all the hype, intensive competition and generally just the whole show on offer. Apart from the very odd event, I have been annoying the hell out of my uninterested partner in the last few days following every minute of the incredible action. Despite the success so far, and, - trying my best not to become obsessed with a love-hate relationship with the Games my thoughts still veer towards the very angry at the injustice that has come with it and the lack of so-called legacy that these Games were supposed to be promoting.
Remembering back a few years when London won the bid at the end of the "boom" years I was very excited about the prospect of the Games. All of my thoughts were about how this was going to benefit us all in general by creating more jobs, improving the economy, providing more funding for sports and generally boosting the feel good factor that sporting success always brings. Even though I live on the sleepy south coast I spend a lot of time travelling to London and love it with a passion. I believe it’s one of the most interesting cities in the world; full of vibrant culture, taste, sounds and sights, lots of history and a population from all over the world which calls it home and which has settled there over many centuries. You couldn't find a better place suited to hold such an international spectacle.
I struggle to find evidence for the benefits to an economy which are supposed to "trickle down" to ordinary working people. The whole corporate circus that has enveloped the Games makes me extremely angry at the big multi-national sponsors who are allowed to plaster the Games' slogans on only their products. Then being elevated above the rest of us with the best seats, access and catering facilities. Of course these corporations will gain significantly whist the rest of us suffer and struggle along and gain no real benefits .What corporations like McDonald's and Coca Cola have to do with the well-being of the general population and attracting more people into sports activities I will never know- I find it more of a mockery and an insult.
The horror stories of g4s and the transport system not being up to scratch due to a lack of organisational infrastructure, then the huge strains put on border staff who I think quite rightly had no choice but to threaten strike action in order to get more people employed with better terms and conditions, should be subjected to serious investigation when the Games end. The government's cruel and totally unnecessary cuts have in my eyes resulted in a strained, overworked and underpaid workforce. Luckily, we have had some great sporting moments to shout about, with our sportsmen and women reaching incredible heights with talent most of us could only dream of. By investing in sports it proves the adage that you do indeed reap the benefits, and as I write this Team GB are punching above their weight by sitting 3rd in the medals table. Sadly, with the lack of future funding this will only be a temporary but well- deserved position, as the cuts to sports planned by the government will start to become a reality by the end of the year. These, along with the many other cuts which are on the horizon, need to be stopped.
Then came the ticket fiasco. Being a budding sports fan myself, as soon as tickets came available I tried madly like many others to jump on the bandwagon by applying to the lottery system, only to get nowhere in my price range and although at the time I just thought it was bad luck imagine my fury when I witnessed the rows of empty seats on T.V.! As I write this I am still trying to get one of the reallocated tickets, but I'm more or less resigned to having my hopes once again built up on the registered screen only to have them knocked back down again and I'm now close to giving up completely. But get this- if I paid a few hundred quid I would be successful, and: this makes me wonder: who is the spectating of these Games really for? The massive allocation for corporate seats has been nothing less than a disgrace!
Danny Boyle's intelligent opening ceremony was a high point. The effort to raise the profile of ordinary peoples' history and culture was superb, with much time allocated to the people who built, struggled, demanded rights and worked on this multi-cultural island throughout history. With great effort and work put into the concept of the NHS, the Suffragettes ,agriculture, the building of railways, the Jarrow Marchers and the arrival of the Empire Wind rush bringing to our shores many of our West Indian brothers and sisters to enrich and enhance our community was a masterstroke! The musical representation was completely fantastic too. Music that shaped and changed culture throughout history was great to listen to - raw music that was fused by the culture of ordinary people like us and not manufactured on Simon Cowell's private soulless manufactured island! Though I personally think the ceremony could have been more radical (well, I would, wouldn’t I?), but come on, I still didn't expect it and frankly anything that annoys the Tories and the right wing brigade of empire and Rule Britannia can't be bad, eh?
So, although the slogan says 'inspire a generation,' sadly the reality is that there is a danger of this becoming the opposite with huge cuts planned for the sports budget, increasing unemployment, and less access to higher education, but I do not want to dwell on the prospect of simply spoiling peoples' enjoyment - and mine - of this great spectacle! We SHOULD be inspired by the hard work, talent and determination of Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy........... to name just a few! These athletes have truly worked hard for the medals they deserve and we cannot fail to have been inspired that. But we must take that inspiration from them in a fight against austerity and get organised against this unfair government of millionaires by making our voices heard this autumn. The 20th October is a vital date to demonstrate that commitment, and we must all try our best to attend and get as many people as we know to be there also. Cameron's and Clegg's Coalition promised that the Olympic Games would generate economic growth leading to a quick economic recovery, an assertion which, given today's gloomy news from the Bank of England to expect this double-dip recession to continue unabated, rings as nothing less than a cynical hollow promise! We can have one huge voice of oppostion to all this injustice on October 20th. Let's make sure, therefore, that the reality doesn't result in a lost generation but, reflecting our Team G.B. athletes' incredible efforts, in a truly 'empowered and inspired generation.'
David Chivers, CWU Youth, Vice Chair
Southdowns Amal SE.NO.1
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