Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 06/07/05

Kissing The Rings

I want to be one of the first to say, "Sod the London Olympics!".

To do so is, of course, to lay myself open to accusations of killjoyhood and spoilsportism, emanating either from those whose intellectual horizons spread no further than the nearest tabloid headline or TV hype-fest; or from those who have a vested interest (be it political or financial) in this Triumph Of The Shill.

I don't care. I've already found myself, in the nine hours between the news from Singapore and sitting down to type this, having to bite my tongue, faced as I have been with the cooings and jubilations of those who are easily taken in.

For who, exactly, will benefit from all this?

Oh, says the Blair régime, this is a great chance for the reinvigoration of the East End of London. Yes! Let's move all those poor people out of the communities they've grown up in, scatter them to the four corners of Greater London or even beyond and pull down their homes with the assurance (nothing on paper, mind) that, once the athletes have all gone home, they will be able to move in to brand-new, all up-to-date accomodation!

Except, of course, that once the Olympic Village is vacated by its intended guests, some high-sounding reason ('Financial prudence' for example, or "It would be irresponsible of us not to try to recoup our investment") will be found to hand all this infrastructure over to property speculators with close (but largely unprovable) links to the government of the day, who will then sell the apartments off for ludicrous amounts of money to members of the Smart Set who have more money than sense. The 'natives' of the East End will never go home again, and the social cleansing of yet another part of London will be accomplished.

Property prices have already started to rise after the announcement, pricing more and more people out of homes near their places of work, thus forcing more of them to commute ever-longer distances, causing ever-worsening pollution. Perhaps we may see a new event in subsequent Olympiads: the 50 metre asthmatic hack? Although the competitors would all be disqualified because their nebulisers would contained banned substances.

And while we're on the subject of transport, how is a city (and a country) which has perhaps the worst-developed and worst-resourced public transport system in the developed world going to cope? Perhaps a variant on the bus lane principle; except that, in this case, the cordoned-off lanes and specially-favourable traffic signals will be reserved for the nobs of the IOC, their corporate owners and possibly even the athletes.

What financial benefit will there be for those who are not within that forever-charmed circle which surrounds Greater London, or who do not have property or businesses in convenient locations? Studies of past Games have suggested very strongly that the supposed benefits are nothing like as substantial as they are made out to be in advance (unless you're within the Circle, natch). Nonetheless, it is inevitable that our taxes, already misdirected from what we need to what the élite want, will be used to prop the whole enterprise up.

For propping up will be required, make no mistake: the Greek government all but bankrupted the country to host the last Games; Montréal is still paying off its debts nearly thirty years later. Don't ask the corporate 'sponsors', the Nikes, Cokes (as in 'Cola', rather than Colombian Marching Powder, although...) and Microsofts, to pay: they will take their moment in the light, take the cash, and take off.

So it'll be left to the general Mugginses to fund the shortfall, both beforehand and for years afterwards. After all, this is a prestigious project, and cannot be allowed to fail, even if it means putting the entire population in hock for a generation or more. Yes! So what if our schools are in crumbling buildings? Who cares if people have to wait eighteen months for an MRI scan on their fractured skull? This is important, fergawdsake! We simply mustn't pass up the chance of showing the world how tacky we can be, darlings!

And, heaven forbid that anyone should protest against all this. The coming of this Festival Of Twisted Priorities will no doubt be used as yet another excuse for the current régime's determination to bar-code the entire population of the UK ("We must have a Safe Olympics!"). In any case, as we have seen in Scotland in the last few days, police will be encouraged to break heads, certain in the knowledge that the corporate media (themselves slavering at the possibilities involved in being able to plaster 'sport' on every page, not just the back) will report on what a wonderful job the Brave Boys In Blue are doing to keep us safe from dangerous anarchists and extremists.

The letters and opinion columns are already filling up with the saccharine exudations of those who are naturally delighted with the outcome, especially as it allows the True Brit to take a break from his customary occupations of whining, whinging and mingeing and indulge once more in the national sport: celebrating the Shafting Of The French.

And all this as a result of a decision taken, after the usual procedure of cajolery, politicking and outright bribery, by an organisation which, as the American writer Dave Zirin has aptly said, has contained so many ex-fascists that a photograph of its meetings would look like an out-take from footage of the Nürnberg Trials.

In case you're still not sure, ask yourself this: if you had to choose, where would you have preferred to have been in the summer of 2012? Paris? Or Walthamstow?