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Updated on April 24, 2012


At the outset here, let me be clear and state that for the whole of my life I have believed in Sport as an essential constituent in the fabric of a well formed individual and indeed, a well formed state. "MENSA IN CORPORE, IN CORPORE NANO" has always made total sense to me and the ways in which sport and physical education have both been attacked by clueless politicians pandering to the lowest common denominator has been something I have opposed throughout my life. Political stupidity, whether it related to sales of School Playing Fields to attacks on the very presence of Physical Education on school timetables have seen me go into battle whenever the opportunity, or need presented itself. Despite best efforts as others stood by watching silently, we have seen such battles, on a wider scale lost. Thus now we have an obesity problem of gargantuan proportions and thanks to the way in which Teachers downgraded themselves in the 1970"s from profession to trade, the young can no longer rely upon the education system for a balanced introduction to sport and physical activity that was so excellently based during the developing period from 1944 to the late 1960"s.

Against this tapestry of cuts and opposition to things sporting from informed and educated personnel, the void was filled by parents and others with Commercial interests at heart. The void was filled but at the cost of real understanding. Soccer parents, knowing no better, threw themselves valiantly into turning junior games into replicas of the professional game, regardless of age or ability. Commercial Fitness Centers blossomed, staffed by those with little or no real training or background in the principles of their work.

Television began to inexorably consume all sports of interest to boost viewing figures and as a result the genie came out of the bottle, never to return as no control on commercialisation was able to be put into place, giving full rein to those hell bent on extracting every penny available from whatever activity showed the tiniest spark of public interest. Set against this scenario, the ideals of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics had no chance of survival.

To be fair back in 1936, the "politicians" had recognised how they could use sport and especially the Olympic Games to their personal advantage. Jesse Owens ensured this attempt backfired on Hitler but the seeds had been sown in political minds worldwide. Once sown ,like the Beanstalk, there was no stopping this growth and so every 4 years, Governments and Activists have manipulated the Olympic Games for their own ends.

Now in 2012, the Games will return to London. Last here in 1948, just 3 years after the end of the World War, the English showed the world that they could be staged in austere times on very limited budget and yet send out a message that Sport had many ideals worth pursuing. Sadly, though once again we face austerity in 2012, there will be no such principles involved this time.


The Olympic Games of modern times has seen each country vie to be able to stage them, offering ever more grandiose claims than the one before. Thus, when London was awarded these games, and beating of all cities given the intense rivalry between the countries, Paris, it was clear from the outset that the fiscal costs estimated were a work of fiction and that once reality kicked in, they would spiral dramatically upwards. So it has proved.

The English chose as their leader for this a former Olympian, Sebastian Coe. However, it was clear that Coe had long since put his track shoes and his basic sporting ideals behind him. After all, he had managed to manipulate himself up the slippery political pole and from middle class beginnings in Sheffield had been elevated to become Lord Coe indeed. As such, he has been seen on TV regularly as the plans and structures unfolded and then rose high across the East London skyline, rushing, like some demented Super Mario figure, extolling, cajoling and defending everything relating to the 2012 Olympic Games of London 2012 which he seems to believe are his personal fiefdom. He was given the job and he has attacked it with gusto and deserves no criticism for that. However, in so doing he has presided over escalating fiscal costs and seeks to justify these on the grounds that they will create a great and long lasting legacy once the games themselves are over and the structures become the property of the people of the East End. Honestly, you could not make it up !

The merest glance at former Olympic models similarly crafted shows the concept is doomed. The Stadium itself still has no long term user a Soccer people know the configuration is not apposite to their game. Athletics, the constant poor relation could not use a quarter of it for spectators on any sort of regular basis and, in the sad society we now have, across the Thames, the "legacy " of the Millennium" sits like a giant discus awaiting the next pop concert etc. No room for another then.

Thus, the British Taxpayer will be totally out of pocket again it seems. Indeed, at the end of the Games, some structures will be demolished, whilst the quarters built to house the athletes will require extensive alterations to fit them for long term affordable housing. Another chapter in high rise housing beckons methinks. Thus fiscally, and despite all the spin about long term benefits as well as boosting the Tourist trade, it appears that there can be no argument of substance on Financial grounds to shore up the Olympic dreams of Lord Coe and the Cohorts {maybe they could fill a gig at the Millennium}. This is sad but true, though if the benefits across the Board for England are there, then we could just, at a pinch, justify the financial expenditure.



What an opportunity that presents for London and the English nation at large. Of that there is no doubt. Sadly however, it also provides for those with malevolent aspects both from within and without to use the stage for themselves. No one of my age will forget Munich 1972 when the games there were high-jacked by so called Terrorists and carnage ensued. It would be foolish in the extreme to say such a thing could not happen again, and we may take comfort that in the planning for the games, great thought and detail will have been given to similar problems.

This week we learn that £553 million has been the Police budget for Security at the Games. Police Officers from all parts of the country will be drawn together to mitigate against the possibility of attacks such as the ones above. 11,000 Officers each day will be on duty as well as the lesser qualified and empowered SPECIAL CONSTABLES. These latter are volunteers and unpaid by the way.

Now, looking at that we can gain some confidence that all is being put in place that should be to deal as reasonably as possible, with attempts to disrupt the games or worse. I have no problem with that at all. However, my memory takes in last year and the riots that spread like forest fire across the country in the summer. I find it totally reasonable to believe that there are those in all sorts of towns and cities, just waiting for the public protectors in their area to be transported to London, and to take full advantage of the position.

In our Society now, whether we like it or not, we have, amongst certain elements what can only be called a "Gang " culture,. Many such are young people, many of them black but not all, who, according to reports are preparing to take full advantage when Police resources, already thin, are stretched further because of the Games. Many will see this as the ideal opportunity to take to the streets, not for any political cause or ideal, but to engage in what they term as "free shopping" and what the rest of us call looting.

Now if that does obtain, then we can in no way, consider the Games to be either a success or even a worthwhile operation. We can be certain that those charged to protect us are likewise aware and will no doubt have contingency measures in place to deal with such eventualities, though as we saw last summer, the possibilities can escalate from town to town, city to city very quickly. It would surely be a defeat for democracy as we know it if we were to have to deploy Military personnel to deal with emergencies, but if Police resources are so stretched ,who could leave that out of ultimate planning?

Civil unrest is a real possibility during the Games, for the reasons stated above. The actual Games themselves are innocent in all this but they do provide the vehicle of opportunity.When de Coubertin founded the games, the ideal was to give the opportunity once every 4 years for the nations to come together in the spirit of free and friendly competition to promote mutual friendship and understanding. These days to win, not just compete is the mantra and once those Games begin, de Coubertin and what he stood for goes out of the window as finely trained and honed professional athletes compete, like gladiators of old, for their very livelihood. De Coubertin is not totally lost though, for before the games begin, the amateurs of all ages will take the Olympic flame across the length and breadth of the nation. To them, taking part is everything, indeed there is no winning at all. Of this de Coubertin would be proud, though once the games begin, I think he would have more than a few doubts.

Those doubts are practical. When the modern games began, sport was nowhere near as organised as it is today, so a Festival once every 4 years gave a wonderful opportunity to spread the ideals. Today however, sport, even a para- olympic level is professionally and even ruthlessly organised and structured. Each activity seems to have its own World Championships, held regularly, some even annually. Against this, the extravaganza that is now the Olympic Games seem strangely an anachronism. That in itself should give pause for thought but if they then provide the backdrop and opportunity for widespread civil disruption, then surely the cry will be heard to call time on them. If that does happen, then the political insistence, games on games to outdo what went before will be the source of the beginning of the end for all time. Lord Coe, a competitive political animal would do well to reflect on that. His "legacy" could be the beginning of, if not the actual end of, the Games as we know them.Remember, all good things come to an end, and nothing is immune from that, including the Olympic Games themselves.


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