Over at Shiraz Socialist a piece has recently appeared reflecting on the possibility that the Olympics might not be so bad after all. I have to confess to have had similar thoughts myself now it’s all over.
Several weeks ago I really didn’t expect to be at all sad when the Olympics finished. In fact I was dreading what I assumed would be a festival of petty nationalism, political opportunism, rampant commercialism and fealty to an IOC that is no less than an ongoing international gravy train. That, combined with a collection of sports that for the most part bore me to tears (and many of which are the sole preserve of the wealthy) meant that I was extremely unenthusiastic.
And to a degree, I haven’t been disappointed in that regard.
The games have been obscenely expensive in a time of supposed eye-watering austerity in the UK (and provided yet another example of why the doctrine of apparently unavoidable cuts is such a dishonest one) and I’m sure the much-vaunted legacy will never actually materialise. It is absurd that corporations were front and centre, especially when they were contributing only a tiny proportion of the finance required to host such a huge event. The fact that the state picked up the tab and did most of the spadework gave the lie to yet another tenet of Tory ideology…….
The BBC’s gung-ho and shamelessly biased coverage really wound me up at times (if I’d have been a successful non-British athlete I would have been seriously pissed off) and their breathless, gushing enthusiasm for the games, as if they were some epoch-defining event in British history, at times bordered on propaganda. I could have done without being constantly told just how brilliant it was.
The ‘feelgood factor’ will be short-lived (especially when the weather turns) and it is ludicrous to think that two weeks of Union Jacks, Judo and Water-polo are going to change Britain for the better, especially when we recall the national and global economic climate that isn’t going to go away however vigorously we wave our flags.
And of course, we can only guess at how many of those participating had been using illegal methods to enhance their performance.
But I’m still a bit sad that the games are over. Some of it has been fun to watch. I’m so happy that athletes like Mo Farah and Bradley Wiggins won gold in their respective disciplines. The women’s football was very exciting (leaving aside the absolutely dreadful disappointment of the manner of Great Britain’s women’s capitulation in the quarter-finals) and there were some great games (many of them involving Canada). Indeed, seeing women athletes excel, and occasionally using the platform their success provided them to discuss the sexism they had had to overcome was one of the features of games that was most heartening.
The Jamaican sprinters certainly added some fun to proceedings and Usain Bolt’s easy-going and at times quite thoughtful manner (whatever one thinks of his tax affairs) was another highlight. Even the most hardened of white supremacists would surely pause and reflect on their ideology after seeing the sheer, effortless brilliance that Bolt, Blake et al brought to the party.
It has been fun and the image of Britain we have seen has been a healthy one, a thorough kick in the teeth for the right, be it the subtly subversive opening ceremony or the success of athletes like Farah and Jessica Ennis. The monarchy and the establishment haven’t really been able to dominate things like they did with the Jubilee, for example.
All in all, I’m not ashamed to admit that it was slightly more entertaining and life-affirming than I had expected. It would be a stretch to say that the positives out-weighed the negatives but there were enough plus-points to at least give me something to write about!
Now, having got that little confession off of my chest, I am left wondering if I’m an easily fooled dupe of capitalist ideology………