Adam Lovejoy writes from London: Now that the dust has settled over the London 2012 Olympic Games it’s probably a good time to look back at them and ask some tough questions. Was it a worthwhile experience? Were the Games value for money? Will we ever know how much exactly was spent on them? Will the legacy of the Games survive beyond, say, the march of the titans on September 10 when all members of Team GB with medals will parade through central London? Does sport matter and if does why should anyone care?
My bet is that the 2012 Olympics have already been forgotten by the overwhelming majority of people, with the exception of the London Mayor Boris Johnson, who seems to be under the impression that he has done a wonderful job out of showing his mug all over the place during the Games, and the athletes who have won medals and can now earn some cash on advertising deals and soul searching interviews. But that would be pretty much it. The rest won’t even be able to recall the exact dates when the Olympics took place and who had won what at them. (Human memory does wonders when it needs to block out irrelevance.)
But let me tell you about the hidden impact of the Games for many people. Yes, prices on public transport will go up, along with council taxes and all sorts of indirect taxes, to recoup at least some of the money that went into the Olympics. Up to now no one knows how much was spent on the Games, especially as there are still the Paralympics to be enjoyed and the clean-up operation to be conducted. So at the moment the figure of something like 10 billion smackers is being mentioned here and there. It would be much higher in the end, obviously, some even say that it can go up to £15 or even £20 billion, but the whole trick is to announce the final costs much, much later, when memories have faded and very few people would be keen to debate whether the whole thing was worth all that money.
Still, the legacy of the Games will not survive, whatever PM David Cameron and other politicians have been saying. And no, the masses will not take up diving into swimming pools from a height of ten metres or join synchronised swimming teams. And beach volleyball would not be making it big in Blackpool or Brighton and very few people would be prepared to go on steroids to achieve great results at track and field. Women’s boxing will not flourish and women’s weightlifting and weightlifting generally would not come to every school in the land. And as for discus throwing, well, I will probably speak for millions when I say: f..k discus throwing.
Cycling? Well, cycling is supposed to have benefited from the London Olympics greatly, in the sense that more people are now riding bicycles on their way to work. Is it a good thing? No, not really. The first result of it was that the number of accidents involving cyclists shot up in the past couple of weeks. Besides, you just need to see what chaos cyclists are causing in London to realise that Mayor Boris’ dream of a city where cyclists rule the roads is a nightmare really.
And when it came to Olympics boosting businesses, well, all those promises of people coming to London to spend millions in shops and eateries did not really materialise, now did they? In fact, shops and restaurants were mostly empty and did not do any brisk business. The numbers of tourists with money, who tend to visit London in August, dropped from the usual 300,000 to 100,000. And the ones who came here to watch the Olympics were not exactly loaded as, let’s be honest about it, fans of obscure sports usually arrive on package holidays, with a limited amount of money to burn.
But let’s not forget the truly embarrassing things as well, like the Olympic logo that looked like dog’s vomit and those one eyed mascots that resembled creatures from a pervert’s dream. (I bet shops are overstocked with them now as pretty much no one was buying that crap.) Designers who came up with that sick rubbish and people who approved it should be prosecuted for promoting bad taste. And the closing ceremony was a huge embarrassment as well. Who on earth came up with the idea of inviting the likes of Russell Brand and the Spice Girls to perform? Has any money changed hands by any chance? It was an appalling display of mediocrity, that closing ceremony.
It’s too late now to talk about this gigantic waste of money which had originated under Toby Blair and was executed under his clone, Cameron. But at least the British people may have learned one important lesson from all that: never again should the Kingdom succumb to this politically correct hell. That alone may be the best outcome of the Games. A true lasting legacy of the 2012 Olympics.