Martin McCauley writes from the Olympic Village: Well, this place is sad and deserted. A far cry from the closing ceremony where the pop stars attempted to lift their careers to a higher plane. Nobody tried pole vaulting more’s the pity. London 2012 will fade from the memory faster than Hartlepool United’s feats last year. All eyes are now on Rio2016. So what will the Brasileiros come up with? Brasileiros, by the way, means Brazilians. Start learning some Portuguese or you will miss the point of some of the more esoteric jokes in Rio.
Rio2016 has a hard act to follow. Love it or hate it, London2012 was a success. Before the Games began all the talk was about G4S and its inability to recruit security staff. The media love a story about incompetence. Well, G4S is history. Security was fine and there were no terrorist attacks when Mo Farah was setting off to win his 5,000 metre gold. The whole nation was watching including the security staff. So the terrorists missed a trick. That was the moment they should have struck. Or perhaps they tried and failed. The story of the security blanket will only be revealed after the Paralympics. So there may be some shocks in store.
But back to sport. After all, the Olympics are supposed to be about athletes performing superhuman feats. However, it is now clear that the Olympics are about big business. They cost billions and only the big boys can compete for corporate glory. The next Olympics always cost more than the one before. Beijing has not revealed how much the 2008 spectacle cost. It may have added 0.2 per cent to the nation’s inflation rate.
When I talk about sponsors I do not only have McDonald’s et al in mind. I am thinking of those who sponsor big name athletes. They desperately want their man or woman to win. When he or she does, they shout it from the rooftops. Name recognition is the name of the game. Usain Bolt and Mo Farah can name any price to be seen eating a pizza or spraying themselves with some deodorant that no one has ever heard of. That Bolt Virgin advert before the Games will now cost Richard much more to repeat. So the marketing budgets for Rio2016 will be astronomical.
Then there are the performance enhancing drugs. The race is on to invent one to beat the drug testers. The Belarussian woman shot putter who lost her gold medal was not very smart. Belarus is way down the league table when it comes to producing drugs. She should have concentrated on eating horse flesh or something else that only Belarussians consume. Make no mistake about it, the Olympics provide the impetus to improve your performance. The rewards are so huge that many will take the risk of being found out.
But let’s get back to Rio. The city is one of those places you are not advised to walk the streets in designer clothes and jewellery. Then there is the problem of the favelas: slums to you and me. Organised crime is rife and the police have been known to send in hit squads to eliminate José or Rafi. The city sanitation needs some attention. Rio, by the way, is no longer the capital of Brazil. Perhaps the President will ensure that a flood of money drowns the city and showcases the dominant power in Latin America.
Athletics and all the other sports are an afterthought. Everyone wants to make money out of the Games. A gold medal can make you for life. Forget all that nonsense about it being better just to compete. Winning is the name of the game. If you think the competition was ferocious at London 2012, just wait for Rio.