The Malcontent on: the Olympics

Mandeville (Olympic Mascot)Officials estimate around ten million people will attend the 2012 Olympic Games, and I hope every single one has a thoroughly miserable time.

Don’t get me wrong; when London first won the games, I was overjoyed. Any occasion when we beat the French is worthy of celebration. But have we really trumped the Parisians, or taken a bullet for them? We’ve spent twelve billion pounds so some people in garish costumes can run around for a bit. For our money, we’ve got a fairly average stadium, a new swimming pool, a statue that looks like a rollercoaster crash and a capital city in utter ruin.

At this point, Jeremy, ahem, Hunt, steps out of Rupert Murdoch’s dining room to remind us that the value of the Olympics is greater than money; it brings peace and international co-operation.  Then he gives the North Koreans the South Korean flag. You couldn’t make it up. Oh yes, what a terrific easing of diplomatic tensions. Will the Germans be playing under the swastika? Probably not; it’s been copyrighted as the London 2012 logo.

We are also told the Olympics will encourage us to do sport. But will broadcasting images of elite athletes into the homes of the overweight inspire them? Or shatter what little confidence they have, forcing them to seek solace in a lard sandwich? A far more effective – and austere – solution to obesity, would be to release bears into every McDonald’s in the country. But I would save the most savage and sadistic bear for the bedroom of whoever decided that McDonald’s, the world’s main cause of obesity, should sponsor the world’s main sporting event. Maybe next year, Jack Daniel’s will sponsor the Hajj. Frankly, I’m surprised they didn’t make Eric Pickles Minister for the Olympics.

And have you seen the Olympic adverts? It’s not just that they are awful (and, by God, they are awful. McDonald’s comes in for special criticism. The glued-to-the-screener, the safe-journey-homer? How about the dying-from-heart-diseaser?). It’s that they’re everywhere. You name it, it’s got the pink swastika on it. Banks, cars, phones… The fighter jets we’re flogging the Saudis probably have Jessica Ennis’ face on them.

But not only is the Olympics a colossal waste of time, money, and bears, it is also fated to be a total disaster. The weather, veering from monsoon to heat-wave, clearly shows that God is against London 2012. Everything that can go wrong, so far, has gone wrong. The Olympic mascots are mutant monstrosities. The torch relay made it look like we’d only just discovered fire. The games are surrounded by missiles and guarded by men who, after spending the week before killing insurgents with their bare hands, probably won’t have much patience for the American who wants to know how he can meet Harry Potter.

Then there was the Opening Ceremony, a horrific car-crash of needless dancing, slow-motion corgis, J. K. Rowling speaking as if she’d just learnt to read and Wallander wreaking his phallic vision on the Shire. The only realistic depiction of Britain in it was the young gentlemen meeting up with the young lady (by picking up her dropped phone… and then ringing her) for what will inevitably be a night of sniffing Pritt Sticks and unprotected sex, whilst their house is trashed by Dizzee Rascal, Mr Bean and the parachuting Queen.

I wonder if they picked the wrong Boyle to direct. For 27 million pounds, we could have seen Frankie Boyle line up the athletes of the world and throw them one by one into the Olympic Cauldron. Yet the international sporting community was distinctly not screaming in the hands of a mad Glaswegian, but instead spending several eons wandering around, while we all learn the French for ‘American Samoa’.

Then, for weeks more to come, we will be bombarded with exhaustive coverage of the Ethiopian women’s football team and the Icelandic rhythmic gymnastics squad. Swimmers will swim, cyclists will cycle, rowers will row… and don’t get me started on rowing. Then the fastest man in the world will run faster than slower men, and maybe we’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.

PHOTO/Andrew Havis