Take care. In reading this article, you may be in receipt of stolen goods. In fact, the organising committee for a certain upcoming sporting event has decided it would be “disproportionate” to prosecute the author of a book called Olympic Mind Games for breach of copy-right. But, under no less than two acts of parliament, it could if it wanted to.
When it discovered that Robert Ronson’s children’s science-fiction novel was to be published, the organising committee for the previously mentioned happening sent him an email asking that he should use neither the O-word nor the expressions “London 2012, or 2012 etc” in the title. The committee was able to do so under statutes passed in 1995 and 2006, which in effect turn all the elements of its title into a trademark.
As Fleet Street Fox reminded us last week, back in 2005 the Olympics was going to cost us £2bn.
wo years later it was upped to about £9bn and a year after that the bottom fell out of the world financial markets.
This was of course no reason to scale back, and today the costs are around £12bn with a strong likelihood that with police, security and transport costs the final total will be nearer £24bn.
To put that into perspective that’s 800million trips to the local leisure centre for a £3 swim. It’s 240 hospitals, roughly, or 20m nurses on a starting salary of £12,000.
This Thursday, according to the ancient traditions of a bygone regime, the Olympic Torch will be lit in Greece:
A circle of “priestesses” – actresses from the Greek national theatre dressed in long, virginal robes – invoke the gods and kindle the torch near an altar where live animals used to be sacrificed to the goddess Hera. The location is purely for aesthetic reasons: the Doric columns of the temple to Hera are more intact than those of Zeus, the site’s principal place of worship. The torch relay it precipitates is without ancient precedent, having started for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Berlin.
On Friday, another 900,000 tickets will go on sale.
That’s if, at this stage, anyone wants to go?
London this summer will have ground-to-air missiles to kill Londoners in the event of a terrorist group hijacking a plane with the intent of flying it into an Olympics building. Instead, shooting down the plane would create a Lockerbie in the middle of London, presumably an outcome the Olympics junta feels is preferable.
Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute, says that “The exercise is designed to reassure the public and the Olympic movement that security is taken seriously.”
This has no more to do with national security than closing the taxi-rank at Waverley Station. It is a naked expression of power.
Large sections of the London Underground will be no-go areas and special timetables will be operating across London. Special Olympics roads will be available for the junta and for the athletes – London’s emergency services will have to wait in traffic like everyone else.
The last Olympics in London were in 1948. Just after the previous world war, an old Etonian and Barings bank director named Major Arthur Villiers, founded allotments “Halfway up Waterden Road in Hackney Wick, east London, down an alley between a bus depot and a cash-and-carry and across a little bridge over the river Lea” as part of a philanthropic mission to the local poor. But on 22nd September 2007, the Manor Garden Allotments were closed down to make way for Olympic cement:
Or at least, that is where they were, until two months ago. Now, if you walk down Waterden Road, you arrive at the 10ft-high blue fence and steel gates of the Olympic Park, and you can go no further. The 87 allotments, bounded on both sides by water, overflowing with potatoes and tomatoes, sweetcorn and aubergines, wild plum trees and leafy chard, with figs, chillies and big, bobbing heads of fennel, are abandoned; they will make way, come 2012, for a concourse between the hockey stadium, the velodrome and the BMX venue, and for a giant TV screen for non-ticket holders.
If you do plan to go to the Olympics, don’t even think about packing your own lunch. Corporate brand food and drink only.
For those of us (most of us) whose only relationship with the Olympics will be paying the huge bill for stationing it in London, looking on aghast at the casual and expensive impositions demanded by the Olympics junta, what can we do?
Sunday Update: Seb Coe claims the Olympics junta demanding “protection” of the words “Olympics 2012″ and other such is “protecting the taxpayer”. Dude, if you want to “protect the taxpayer”, how about keeping the Olympics building costs down to the original budget of £2bn. And don’t bring in the ground-to-air missiles and sonic cannon to use on the people who will be paying for the Games.