Only A Game? - Just let the Olympics be about sport

Jamaica's Usain Bolt carries their flag during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Jamaica's Usain Bolt carries their flag during the Olympic Games 2012 Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Stadium, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Oh, how I wish the London 2012 Olympic Games was more like a chicken salad sandwich. Like the aforementioned sandwich, I’d like to enjoy the best parts of the Olympics and anything I didn’t like the look of, I could simply throw away and be done with.

Let me be clear, I am as excited as the next person about the Olympics and had I not been reporting at Derry City’s game with Shamrock Rovers at the Brandywell on Friday evening I would have been sat at home with an, err... chicken salad sandwich watching Danny Boyle’s £27m opening ceremony.

You see, what makes me angry about such global events like the Olympics is the attempt made by advertisers, sponsors and vast sections of the media to hoodwink the average Joe (that’s you and me by the way) into thinking that their lives are in some way better off if they get involved. It’s utter nonsense and nothing more than an illusion.

Politicians like British Primer Minister David Cameron, London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, and Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt have been proffering meaningless, intangible and conjecture ridden Olympic sound bites for too long and quite frankly I find it insulting.

As recent as this week, gaffe prone Boris referred to London as a the “sports capital of the world”.

This statement is completely irrelevant. It’s totally unquantifiable and is but an opinion. The location of any Olympic Games is incidental. It is the athletes who have trained for years who make an Olympic Games memorable, not a city, a sponsor or a politician.

David Cameron came out this week and said that the 2012 Games would put London on the map. Well, I have an Atlas at home and London is very easy to find. It’s a bit silly spending billions of tax payers’ money on something that has already been done, time and time before. We know where London is; it’s regarded as one of the most affluent cities in the world. Everyone knows where London is, it’s not as if it’s some new city struggling get its name out there, now is it?

I sincerely hope that over the next few weeks we will see tremendous achievement for all those athletes who have worked tremendously hard to reach the Games but for people like Cameron to come out with comments with zero meaning is, again, insulting to our intelligence.

But politicians are politicians and if stating the obvious was an Olympic sport there were would be no shortage of winners from this part of the world.

Former Tory boy and chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, Seb Coe, delivered what can only be described as one of the worst speeches I have ever seen at the Games’ opening ceremony on Friday night.

Despite being awarded the Games seven years ago Coe still read from a script and his speech was so cold and contrived that it would make the idea of sharing a meal with Bashar al-Assad seem like a good idea.

Next to condescend was I.O.C. President Jacques Rogge who waxed lyrical about how the Games would leave a lasting legacy and said that the 2012 Games was historic as it was the first time that every country taking part had female athletes in their respective teams.

A lasting legacy? Are you serious? The 2004 Olympic Games took place in Athens and there has been no lasting legacy to speak of. The country’s economy is virtually non-existent and the austerity measures that have been introduced in Greece are amongst the most severe in Europe. For Rogge to flippantly suggest that the Games will magic away all of the challenges currently faced by Great Britain is just irresponsible.

Furthermore, if Rogge thinks that achieving equality for women at the 2012 Games is something to be celebrated then he’s about 100 years too late. Surely, this is something that should have been sorted out decades ago.

Again, it shows just how out of touch the ruling elite are with the average Joe.

The Olympic Games have to be treated for what they are. They are a sideshow to the realities of life. It’s fantastic to see a tournament that celebrates sporting excellence take place every four years but it could be done with much better taste and the money pumped into to hosting the Olympics could be put to much better use.

Imagine if you had recently been made redundant, you can barely put food on the table and you run the risk of losing your home. You turn on your television on Friday night and hear that the opening ceremony cost £27m. How would you feel? Cheated? Disgusted? Let down?

The Olympics is something that we should certainly celebrate but just because it’s a global event doesn’t mean that we should lose sight of the important things in life.

The Olympics and other such events also seems to turn well educated people into babbling idiots. People like Boris Johnson, American First Lady Michelle Obama and David Cameron engage in such discomforting activities as playing tennis or they try to score penalties past SpongeBob Squarepants that it makes me want to scream.

These so called personalities feel obliged to present themselves as ‘normal’ and think that by partaking in such activities will help them to connect with the man and woman in the street. I can’t think of anything more forced, fake and offensive,

Like the chicken salad sandwich there are many things about the Olympics that you’d like to pick out and throw away but if you manage to get past the padding, the pomp and ceremony and let it be about hard work and sporting prowess it still has the potential to be very satisfying indeed.