Another Olympic Games has come to an end and the preparations increased for the next event, when the circus visits Brazil. The London 2012 Olympics has been a great surprise success but it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
The Olympic circus has become highly commercial with very large sums of money flowing around it, a percentage going to bribes and other inducements. The sponsors have also become over-mighty and been excessively indulged. Then there is the scandal of seat allocations to members of the Olympic “family” (a family Don Corleon would have been proud to lead ). That all seems to be a gross betrayal of the concept behind the modern Olympic Games where an original guiding rule was that athletes should not be professionals but competing as amateur. That highly dubious aspect of the Olympic circus travels from host city to host city and is overdue for reform.
Given the disadvantages, the 2012 London Olympics were to prove a friendly and happy games that took place at venues which had been completed on time and, in most cases, within budget. It may be that this was a result of a change of Government and an emphasis on managing the runaway budgets left by the Blair Brown Regime incompetence, but the measure of the Games should not be the heritage of early failures, but the actual delivery during the Games. Even the late admission of failure by G4S was recovered by drafting in much larger numbers of troops and police. This was not only a success in turning around would could so easily have been a disaster, but a major achievement in providing security with a smile. That offers some thought for consideration by airports who have reacted poorly to the increased terror threat by introducing security with a snarl and a humourless bureaucracy.
For Team GB it was also a great achievement in medal success. To come third behind the US and China and ahead of Russia is a major achievement for a small group of islands with a significantly smaller population and trying to recover from the debts incurred by a profligate and incompetent Blair Brown Regime. It is not however a single achievement in 2012, but the result of a steady improvement in national commitment and an appreciation that investment is essential in sport that is so heavily subsidized in other countries. British athletes have been building success over a number of Olympics and 2012 saw a further improvement over the successes of the 2008 Olympics.
Lord Coe is one of the heroes of the successes in managing and motivating the event so effectively, overcoming a series of challenges in the process and retaining a cool head.
Another hero is the National Lottery which has provided funding to support the development of Team GB.
Above all it was a success for all the athletes who took part, gave their best and did so in friendly competition.
There has been no terror attack, the transport system functioned effectively, there was a great national commitment from the circuit of the Olympic flame relay leading up to the Games, and the outstanding, if politically imperfect, opening ceremony, the smooth running of the events and the almost total absence of rancor. Within the Games the two disgraceful exceptions were from the French Team officials and one US coach. France, having been placed in a difficult position by President Pudding, descended to claims that the British cyclists had resorted to black magic, on the basis that they couldn’t possibly have beaten the French fairly. In defence of the French officials, there is a national heritage of excusing national failure by crying foul as evidenced by French historians claiming that the British archers unfairly defeated their much larger armies during the Middle Ages and that Napoleon really won the Battle of Waterloo, in spite of the fact that he joined the rout of the French and fought his own soldiers to escape the field of battle. The US coach was unwise to make such public and unsubstantiated claims against a young Chinese swimmer. Both he and the French Officials may regret their unfounded outbursts. However, against the experience of previous modern Olympics it was an event almost totally without rancor.
Outside the 2012 Games, only the German Press and the new French President Mr Pudding struck sour notes in a classic demonstration of the fraternity of the European Union. The German Press crowed over their expectations that the London Games would be a total disaster, with foul weather, a grid locked transport system, venues that were not ready and a Team GB failing to win medals. That probably says more for the resurgent national socialism of a reunited Germany and of the standard of journalism in Germany than of anything else. President Pudding suggested that Britain would be left far behind the French team and be grateful to claim to be part of an European Union medal haul. This may be a worrying sign because if Mr Pudding is so far from reality in the matter of Olympic medals, how far from reality is he in respect of the EuroZone crisis that threatens the world economy.