ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Long Shadows of the 2012 Olympics

Updated on May 29, 2012
The London Olympic Stadium
The London Olympic Stadium

The Olympics: a short retrospect

As much as I love sports, I can only get excited about the 2012 Olympics in a cautious manner. It's an incredible thrill to watch athletes at the peak of their abilities but the monetary side creates situations which are at odds with the spirit of the Olympics. False promises by oganisers, shady financial dealings, political influence - various things come into play that have nothing to do with celebrating the achievements of top athletes.

The 2008 Olympics were notable for shocking levels of human rights abuse. The world stood by while the authorities in Beijing forcefully removed local residents to make way for new buildings connected to the Olympics (to read about this in more detail check out my hub on this topic). Everyone knew it was happening. Everybody pretended that it was not - apart from human rights groups, but they couldn't get governments to respond effectively. Reuters estimated 1.5 million evictions took place.4 Money and an interest in forging connections with China's emerging economy was talking - not any kind of Olympian spirit.

The 2004 Olympics in Athens left a legacy of disused buildings and rubbish-strewn wastelands as well maintaining venues that are never used by anyone, costing a fortune in maintenance.3 The Greeks promised environmentally sound policies backing the games - but these were just words to make the bid look more appealing and forward thinking. The truth was a lot different. As Greenpeace says in retrospect: 'Green energy is the most striking failure for the Athens Olympics.'5

In all of these things, it is difficult to conceive of an Olympic hosting bid outside of a wider economic context, such as the 2004 Greek bid. Though this bid was apparently straightforward and even humble in its appeal, harking back to the original Greek Olympian spirit, it seems surprising if there hadn't been somewhere some influence to help Greece look more legitimate in a European context with the single currency in mind. Such is the potency of the Olympics on the world stage. Ironic considering how Greece now threatens to make the whole thing crumble.

...Now fast forward to 2012...

Salt, sugar, fats, cardboard and plastic containers. Yum Yum.
Salt, sugar, fats, cardboard and plastic containers. Yum Yum. | Source

Shadows haunt the 2012 Olympics - Sponsors rub their hands in glee

While the 2012 Olympics aren't tainted by any obvious and direct human rights abuse issues, there are shadows crossing the event due to the amount of money being spent and the choice of sponsors.

According to Members of Parliament, the Olympic funding 'robs good causes'6. The choice of sponsors is also at odds with what the Olympics represent.

Check out the full list of Sponsors here

Most notably are the presence Coca-Cola and McDonald's - pinnacles of healthy drinking and eating?

Clearly health and fitness – part of the very essence of the Olympics – is at fundamental odds with the ingestion of food-like substances such as those that Coca-Cola and McDonald's have to offer. In fact, McDonald's have created for the Olympics the largest fast-food premises in the world! The venue includes 1500 seats, 2000 staff, and hopes to serve 50000 Big Macs in six weeks.1 Welcome to 'healthy eating' and sharing in the pinnacle of fitness!

What happens to you when you only eat McDonald's

But Mr McDonald loiters around and encourages our children to be healthy!?

McDonald's have tried to improve their image for the Olympics by starting a spurious campaign to get children to eat healthily and take exercise 2, which includes giving away certain toys to aid fitness as well as giving away free tickets for sports sessions with their Happy Meals.

Notwithstanding the fact that it is universally known that McDonald's food-like offerings ensure the grim reaper visits sooner those who have large appetites for their menus... Realistically, would these two approaches to our children's health really help? No, it's a cynical marketing ploy to improve the McDonald's image.

Somehow, McDonald's have even managed to circumvent the restriction they were under from targeting children in their add campaigns.

Presumably advertising child health with one hand, while stealing child health with the other isn't seen as wrong or suspect.

This situation cannot be underestimated. In fact, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges actually demanded "bold and tough" measures to curb childhood obesity, including a ban on firms such as McDonald's and Coca-Cola from sponsoring sporting events such as the Olympics.2

Unsustainable Produce and a Disregard for Environmental Issues

(Please note: the term 'produce' to describe livestock is a term that ensures maximum separation between what someone is eating, and what it actually is, or was).

The creation of this fast food outlet is perverse considering the environmental issues of large scale cattle farming. However McDonald's is one of the sponsors, so money - not health nor environmental issues - is doing the talking.

While the whole world is watching, the Olympics could be used to highlight health and environmental issues. Athletes could be held up as the pinnacle of strength and fitness and the role of proper nutrition could be shown. Instead, what we're being guided toward are the advantages of eating McDonald's.

As well as inveigling children into getting silly toys to supposedly help them with their fitness, McDonald's originally decided to import the bulk of their product (again, an utilitarian term) from abroad, instead of sourcing cows and chickens locally in the UK, which goes against sustainability and environmental considerations.

The ex-athlete Sebastian Coe admitted that McDonald's would import 90 per cent of its chicken from abroad, despite the games organisers' sustainable sourcing commitment.6

This is incredible considering the assurances the games organisers gave on various issues such as sustainability - exactly in the way officials spoke at the Athens Olympic bid.

Rather like the Beijing 2008 Olympics, it is money which is doing the talking, not intelligence in a wider sense.

Patrick Makau racing

Marathon World Record Holder at 2:03.38
Marathon World Record Holder at 2:03.38 | Source

Athletes Don't Need the Olympics

In short, the Olympics have been used not to promote not just sport or athletic prowess, but to promote financial systems and interests on various levels, as well as political ones (in the past even sometimes by athletes themselves).

The Olympic games have not been protected from these various mechanisms, despite the efforts of certain groups and people throughout the years.

However, the great thing is that top athletes can compete any time of year, break records without the need of the Olympics. Our modern age of instant communication ensures that an athlete's triumph becomes big news world-wide, without needing the added leverage of the Olympics.

A good example is the amazing Marathon runner Patrick Makau who holds the world record at 2:03.38 in 2011, Berlin. Even though he didn't qualify for the 2012 Olympics, he is still known as the fastest man ever - and he thinks that the 2 hour barrier can be beaten.

Furthermore, there was no sponsorship for him, no finely tuned carbohydrate diet nor exercise equipment, just straight training and running - and more training and more running. It could be argued that he doesn't even need the Olympics.

Do you think that the Olympics are worthwhile?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Electro-Denizen profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Wales, UK

      Thanks Hank for visiting. Have a nice day!

    • Electro-Denizen profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Wales, UK

      iefox5 - you're right there, and the 2012 logo is not very readable either. It's a shame! Thanks for visiting.

    • iefox5 profile image


      6 years ago

      What I want to say is the 2012 London Olympic Mascot is not so cute :(


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)