Friday 6 June 2008

Legacy, Schmegacy

They're talking about the Olympic legacy again.
Free swimming is the latest treat we're promised (paid for out of our own
money, of course, like all such 'free' treats), and a nation transformed from
couch potatoes into hyperactive exercise junkies, swarming in our thousands
to all those swanky venues left over from the triumph that was London 2012.
It's hard not to reach for the word ironic at times like this. If ever
there was a festival of couch potato cultivation, it's the Olympics. It only
exists, in its grotequely bloated modern form, because of the huge
worldwide TV audience - and many of the sports represented only exist, to
the outside world, as a once-every-four-years TV spectacle. What sort of
crowd does the average weightlifting event attract? Where, indeed, would
one find such a thing? Yet, come the Olympics, weightlifting's up there
with the rest, suddenly being gawped at by millions of couch potatoes.
Because the Olympics is fundamentally a TV event, it makes very little sense to build special venues for most of the events. That only leaves a legacy of expensive white elephants - the one sure Olympic legacy we can realistically look forward to. The sponsors and the TV companies should knock up temporary structures - sets, as it were - and take them down when it's all over. As it is, the likeliest 'legacy' of the London Olympics will be not only rotting, redundant venues (this is already the case post-Athens) but also decades of debt - remember Montreal...
There was more legacy talk as the farcical 'UN food summit' closed. Malnutrition would be halved worldwide by 2015, we were solemnly assured, in what was described as an 'important pledge'. Why is this stuff reported as news? It is pure, self-serving fantasy - as it all talk of the benign legacy of the London Olympics.


  1. The Norwegians are, unlike we truly, a very pragmatic people. The lillehammer Olympic village, all wooden construction, built by Moelven industries, was, less that two weeks after the final event, packed up and on a train on its way to Moscow, sold to a German construction company to house their tradesman who had refused to go there if they had to stay in Russian accommodation. This deal was done long before the Olympics started. The ski jump arena was retained as was the Olympiahall at Hamar, now part of the success full winter sports scene in area, could we do this, what! with the sort of brain dead quangoite / civil service showerite that infests GB inc, I think not.

  2. They can do better than free swimming. What about free shot putting, or free rhythmic gymnasticizing? Free pentathaloning?

    Every Olympics offers the host country the opportunity to introduce some obscure sport that it is sure to dominate. What would England offer in this respect? The vomit puddle slalom?

  3. Duck, that would do nicely, then perhaps a marathon race for the largest council tax increase.

  4. In Atlanta, we were often mocked for the overly-commercialized nature of our Games. Of course, unlike every other modern Olympic city, we excaped the experience with zero public debt, and dramatically improved infrastructure that has (barely) facilitated the city's massive growth.

    In addition, the Olympic Stadium was taken over from Ted Turner for baseball use. The Olympic village became dormitories for local universities. Every facility has found a usage unconnected from its original purpose precisely because the private sector was a stakeholder in the business process in advance.

    There's a way to do this, of course. But it requires a shred of optimism that Britain isn't entirely known for.