Tomorrow sees the start of one of the most anticipated occasions in the international sporting calendar, The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London.
This is meant to be exciting for the whole nation: we’ve seen the torch carried through most of our towns and cities up and down the country as Olympic fever gathers momentum. From this point on there shouldn’t be any ‘buts’ or ‘howevers’: but there sadly is. Perhaps Beijing had similar problems, though if they did they managed to hide it from the world’s media. The build-up to the games has been miserably overshadowed by events that may simply be a poignant reflection on the world in which we live.
Imagine, for example, a rail strike being called in China on the same day that something like the 100m men’s final was scheduled to be run. Or the Chinese authorities imposing a ‘no-fly zone’ over the Olympic site, stating that any invasion of this space could result in the shooting down of unauthorised aircraft over the city centre.
On reflection, they probably did, yet this is not something I would wish to contemplate, even though missiles had been placed atop some of London’s high-rise homes.
As a boy I was led to believe that the Olympic Games were a display of an individual’s amateur sporting prowess and excellence within any given discipline: something far removed from professional sport. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. fought as an amateur boxer, becoming an Olympic champion, later becoming professional before becoming Muhammad Ali.
I don’t want to see millionaire professionals like David Beckham or Rafael Nadal on the Olympic stage. It doesn’t feel right or in the spirit of the games.
Since the revelations of G4S Security’s glaring and surprising ineptitude were revealed, there will, apparently, be more British troops in London for the duration of the games than our current military deployment in Afghanistan.
There have been issues with the clearance times and strike threats at airport customs points of entry. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is the resignation that one sometimes feels that we, as a nation, are seen as some kind of has-been second-rate society where taxi drivers protest at not being able to use the newly created Olympic road lanes.
Only last week a huge chunk of west London was affected by a massive deprivation of internet and landline services. Throughout the duration of the games there is no doubt that there will be a massive increase in the need for all network connections as thousands of short-term visitors, athletes and world-wide media attempt to make contact with the rest of the world.
Then there is the sticky matter of sponsor protection. Would I be allowed to go to any Olympic event from tomorrow wearing a Pepsi T-shirt? No. (Lord Coe: BBC Radio 4 , July 20, 2012). Let the 2012 games commence: come on Team GB!