Hamill’s Beat - Boycott that flamin’ torch

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So much for all that guff about, The People’s Olympics. What a joke! What a load of eye wash that is. They leave out the little word, “top”. It’s the Top People’s Olympics.

The rest of us, who can’t get to see the actual games can catch a glimpse of Lord Coe’s flamin’ torch as it passes. That’ll brighten up our drab little world. The noble lord said it would be our, “moment to shine”. Isn’t that nice?

Let’s boycott it in protest about the way tickets for the games have been allocated. In calling for this I’m implying no disrespect to the worthy folk who have been selected to carry the flame. It isn’t their fault.

The torch is to arrive in Derry in early June with an evening “celebration” in Ebrington. What have we to celebrate?

“The Olympic Games are coming to you,” enthuses Lord Coe. What he doesn’t say is that you’re not going to them.

A scandalous percentage of seats have gone to the wealthy sponsors and corporate fat cats. So you can rest assured the bankers will be there, entertaining their friends at our expense, in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed. They’ll be treated like the royalty they think they are. Now TV exposés have revealed an even greater proportion of tickets than first thought, were reserved for the super rich.

The rest of us get futile little ballots. Those of us who’ve spent a lifetime taking part in particular sports, coaching and encouraging young people, administering and travelling to competitions can bog off when it comes to the ‘Top People’s Olympics’. Even close relatives of athletes are unlikely to see them compete. Massive publicity campaigns encouraged people to apply for tickets for events they had little or no interest in just for the sake of getting to see something.

So it is, for instance, that I can attend World Championships in non-Olympic years, in my own sport of rowing, but I can’t get to the Olympics.

Many people are understandably angry about it.

Again for instance, Coleraine’s Alan Campbell who has a real chance of a medal in rowing will have to compete with virtually no supporters for his home town being there to see him race. Alan’s family is disappointed.

Since the real enthusiasts can bog off from the so-called “People’s Olympics” in favour of the corporate fat-cats, as far as I’m concerned the flaming torch can also bog off.

If that makes me sound bitter, it’s because I am.

Norman Hamill wrties in the Journal every Tuesday