To coin that famous sports commentary phrase – “they think it’s all over – it is now” – but only partly. In all the euphoria of all our recent achievements at the Olympiad, we mustn’t forget there are still the London 2012 Paralympics yet to come…
The Paralympics are set to be the biggest and most popular event of its kind so far. But it’s also destined to be an even greater display of sporting prowess, strength and achievement over adversity and disability. Probably more than that which we have already witnessed. In addition there is the not insignificant matter of that much-lauded “Olympic Legacy“ thingy.
The legacy is something that won’t be attained easily and also something that won’t happen overnight. Therefore, the ultimate success of London 2012 will be measured by how good we are at “inspiring a generation” then, and only then, will we witness the fruits of that legacy. Make no mistake, it will take a great deal of hard work, by ALL involved, to maintain the London 2012 momentum; whatever happens now, we mustn’t lose the impetus given to the cause, or lose sight of the importance of the work ahead.
I don’t know about you but I’ve never been that much of a sports fan. But, thanks to BBC TV, I’ve probably watched more sport in the last two weeks than I’ve watched over the last two years. A sceptical and doubting Thomas at the outset, even I can admit to the fact, London 2012 has been amazing and inspirational.
The swelling of pride in British chests up and down our small island nation has been phenomenal over the last couple of weeks. Ok, so it’s mainly thanks to the (partly) unexpected success of our Olympians, that and a dose of good old British apathy. But, despite the initial cynicism displayed by so many (me included), it appears that now its OK to be British and proud again. Long may that feeling continue!
Pride about of our Nation, pride in our communities and pride about a job well done was something the British people always used to excel at, until more recent years that is. A sense of pride, duty and service and care for others was something that put the “Great” in Britain. It’s a trait that has systematically been beaten out of us by politicians and the PC Taliban. We have been told that pride is socially unacceptable, unless you are part of a minority group. We have been told that pride has a negative impact upon embracing and furthering the diversity of our land, in short, pride is second only to racism and totally taboo!
But irrespective of the naughtiness of our new-found pride, how the rest of the world saw the Olympic Games is probably one of the more important questions. Thankfully and in general, the whole spectacle appears to have been enjoyed and well received, both near and far. So we got that bit right, our athletes mostly exceeded expectation and a good time was had by all.
Irrespective of all the media hype that’s gone on, masses of political rhetoric and party points scoring, before during and after the games, along with some astute marketing and brand warfare, sport has (surprisingly) been key to the success of the event. It shouldn’t be about political agenda or money-making opportunity, the Olympiad is actually supposed to be about sport and sporting values. The enjoyment of sport, the participation as an athlete (or volunteer Games Maker) and the pleasures derived from observing that sporting greatness.
Partly as a celebration of their undoubted success, but also probably yet another slick marketing tool, some British medallists from Team GB have turned their skills to the performing arts. Athletes including Sir Chris Hoy, Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Louis Smith, along with a little imput from David Beckham, have recorded their own version of Queen‘s hit song Don’t Stop Me Now! Great sentiment and powerful rallying cry for our sporting future but don’t give up the day job guys!
The song title does however reflect the building process that now needs to follow; always assuming we are genuine about actually realising the London 2012 Olympic Legacy. We now have some solid foundations on which we can build however; there is still much debate around the real values of the Olympic legacy – will it prove to be a White elephant or economic viagra? Have we been conned by our government and swallowed a convenient placebo for a couple of weeks, designed to disguise further social and financial pain still to come?
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be unlike any other park you’ve visited. As a whole new piece of the city, there will always be something exciting going on, from the low-key to the larger than life…(Read More)
Olympic Legacy: Winning for the North (guardian.co.uk) …We must still work hard to ensure that the Olympic legacy benefits the north’s poorest communities too… The Olympic legacy will mean nothing if it doesn’t reach our inner-cities and our neediest kids – our future Olympians…(Read more)
I have to admit to being an incorrigible cynic but I’m also an eternal optimist and, on this occasion, I’m also living in hope that my glass is half-full (for a change). I believe the desires and aims of ‘our’ olympic legacy can actually be achieved however; I’m not so sure about the will, ethics and drivers of our politicians, or those responsible for managing that realisation?
If nothing else comes from the legacy at least the G4S debacle, subsequent security bail out by our military and the requirements for extra police, London 2012 has proved the professionalism, flexibility and true value of our military and police personnel. It has also proved a point that many have been trying to impress on our politicians for months… Money spent on public resources, despite being often expensive, actually proves to be valuable and money well spent.
Defence secretary Philip Hammond has suggested the failure of security firm G4S to fulfil their contract to guard the London 2012 Olympics has made him rethink the role the private sector…(huffingtonpost.co.uk)
The G4S failures, of olympic proportion (pun intended), are now well documented. I for one now expect David Cameron to be good to his word when he vowed to “go after” G4S to recover the millions of pounds of public money paid to them (see here). Back in July, Ed Miliband the Labour leader also called for a government “rethink of police outsourcing” by saying that G4S “should be blocked from getting government contracts” after failure to meet their Olympic commitments (see here).
It has also now emerged that G4S intends to donate £2.5m to armed forces charities (see here). G4S understandably refer to the cash as a “goodwill gesture” after 18,200 military personnel were drafted in to bolster up their security blunders. I (and many others no doubt) would actually see it as guilt money, designed to placate public opinion whilst attempting to prevent further financial loss for the company. The government should accept that payment but also, press on to recover the rest of the public money paid out for something that wasn’t delivered!
Historian Michael Wood wrote for the BBC News Magazine at the beginning of August – G4S and the echoes of the East India Company.
A private army making profit for the company’s shareholders with very little control from either the British or the Indian governments. Does this sound familiar? (Micheal Wood)
Wood goes on to describe how G4S has “been criticised in parliament and provoked global protests about its employment practices” and how the company “uncannily echos exploits” (and failures) of The East India Company, the “mother of all global multinationals.” It’s a well-known fact that history often repeats itself.
But chin up there are apparently 10 ways to fill the Olympics void and don’t forget that whatever happens, you can still own a keepsake from this historical event. Why not purchasing some London 2012 memorabilia at the official online shop as a reminder of how good we really can be?
No matter how things pan out for any of us in the future, remember to… Always look on the bright side of life!
- UK’s Olympic ‘generosity’ praised (bbc.co.uk)
- Olympic legacy: winning for the north (guardian.co.uk)
- London 2012 euphoria has died, but will the Olympic legacy live on? (guardian.co.uk)
- The Olympic Park to reopen to public next year (itv.com)