Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What Game Plan?

Some months back, around the time that the Beijing Olympics came to a close, I made a few more choice remarks about the 2012 games in London being a massive clusterfuck in waiting. The ensuing comments suggested I was being a bit unpatriotic and really should get into the spirit of things, even if it was simply just another excuse for this country to haemorrhage money.

I wonder, with the economy tumbling into the crapper and the costs still rising, if everyone is still so utterly cock-a-hoop? Will they still have those cheesy fuckwit grins plastered across their smug little faces now that The Game Plan has come to light? Here we have a 250-page strategy document, compiled by people who actually know what they’re talking about, that states hosting the Olympics would not bring significant economic returns or even encourage more people to play sport.

With that kind of summation, surely that should have been the end of it. Except, as soon as B Liar signed off on the document back in 2002, the government did a complete about-face and backed the bid, no doubt urged on by oily shit-stains-in-shoes like Sebastian Coe who we’ve since found out were simply banging the drum for their own interests. And what was the government’s justification for going ahead? That even if there was no social or economic justification for staging the event, it would still be “a morale-boosting national party.” Oh, excellent!

With the cost of 2012 now more than tripled from the original estimate and UK Sport still with a £79 million shortfall in its budget because private sponsors have run a mile (probably fast enough to earn themselves a medal), the Games chiefs had to meet today to agree funding cuts for various Olympic sports. No doubt, in four years time, it’s going to end up being utterly pathetic and a national embarrassment that will leave everyone hanging their head in shame.

Once it’s all over and we work out how much each medal won for this country cost, the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square can then be used as a stage for reaming these governmental cunts who “backed the bid” with a potato peeler or other blunt instrument. Once the blood spraying out of their arseholes has hosed down the front of the National Gallery we can all have a merry dance in the fountains.

If anyone wants to know why I’ve been against it, I remember the 1976 Montreal Olympics and its unfinished stadium, and how Canada got royally screwed by the immense cost overruns. Just “The Big Owe” alone, as the city’s natives since referred to the stadium, cost twice the initial estimates. Although, in checking out the actual figures, I was shocked to discover that the stadium’s costs were finally paid off only two years ago at a total expenditure of over 1.6 billion Canadian dollars. How long are we going to be paying for 2012?

If you think the Olympic site will be put to good use in the future and all the waddling kids will put down their Playstation controllers and be out kicking a ball about, this is from one of the articles in The Times today regarding four previous Olympic games:

Tarnished legacy

Barcelona 1992

At the time they were the most expensive Games ever and 40 per cent of their $11 billion cost was public money. But Barcelona is widely considered to be a model of Olympic planning because it revitalised the city’s image abroad and regenerated Spain’s eastern seaboard. Tourist activity went up but the stadiums have been underused and there is no evidence of increased sports participation.

Atlanta 1996

Written off as the Coke Games because of the overcommercialisation of the event for the benefit of the US soft drinks maker in its own backyard. Atlanta has been virtually airbrushed from history by Games chiefs and resulted in the creation of few sports facilities. There was little impact on participation but no public money went towards the $1.8 billion bill.

Sydney 2000

Hailed by the International Olympics Committee as the “best-ever” Games because of their carnival atmosphere. Once they were over, tourism and sports participation fell away. Obesity has increased among Australians, who had grown used to watching sport from the sofa. Taxpayers picked up the bill for underutilised stadiums in the middle of nowhere and the entire A$6.6 billion party resulted in a monumental hangover. A study afterwards put the net cost to the public at up to A$2.4 billion.

Athens 2004

The Greeks left everything to the last minute, pulling off a successful Games against all expectations. The €11.9 billion cost has been hard to justify, however, since the venues have become choked with weeds. The spruced-up city reaped tourist dividends but no more Greeks run marathons than did before the Games.

No doubt London 2012 will be joining the list. But then again, when the government gets involved in anything it turns into a monumental financial fisting. Just look at The Millennium Dome. Yes, it was conceived by the Conservative party, but St Tony’s newly elected Labour government expanded its scope and funding. With an original estimate of £399 million, the final cost came in at £789 million.

Supposedly “a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity”, by the time of its closure at the end of 2000 only half the projected 12 million visitors had gone through the turnstiles. After that it sat in Greenwich like a big white tumor for seven years before it was turned into an entertainment complex and rebranded The O2 arena.

As attractions go, compare that to the Eden Project near St Blazey in Cornwall. Beginning with just the biomes housing tropical and temperate plants, the site gradually expanded to include educational and arts projects as well as hosting regular concerts, probably because the scabby turds in Parliament never got their fingers in the pot.

While it has required £130 million of public funding since opening its doors in 2001, Eden Project has helped pump £800 million into the local economy. And it has car parks. Given the choice, I know which one I’d visit.


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