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According to a recent poll by The Guardian 86% of people are apathetic towards the Olympic Games and the carrying of the torch around the country before the summer tournament. Even now I can hear the myriad moaners who are bringing it down, lambasting its purpose: “it doesn’t affect me,” “it’s all a scam anyway,” “there are better ways of spending our money!”
Yet, certainly in my mind’s eye, the Olympics (and The Paralympics to boot) are one of the greatest human celebrations; exhibiting the talent of our fittest, brightest and best. And by “our,” I of course mean “of the entire world.” And that is what this event is about; it is a global institution. We, Britain, will be the epicentre of the globe’s sporting calendar – and 2012 will be synonymous with the bravura spectacle that Lord Coe and his team from the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games will have conjured for us all to feast on next summer. Surely this is something to get excited about?
And, for those more fiscally-orientated about this whole arrangement, then there are of course substantial economic benefits. A great influx of money to replace taxpayers’ own contributions, as well as hopefully having left a sizeable (and positive) impression on our visitors. Furthermore, tourism really should sky-rocket next summer; the perfect tonic to the rolling months of austerity (a noticeable symmetry with Britain’s last Olympic Games back in 1948 – during a period of low growth and bloated debt, though also still having to endure rationing for food, fuel and clothes).
And, while most of the action is in London, the Games’ Business Report outlines that materials are sourced from all over the country. The steel for the Olympic Stadium, Velopark and bridges is from Bolton, consultancy from Salford, welding from Chorley, publishing from Macclesfield; the list goes on. Evidently, we’ll all share in this tremendous legacy, and it will almost certainly affect your local industry. Plus, saving you the economics lecture here, this will all help employment, leading to greater consumption, thus stimulating our fledgling growth; which can only be good news.
But our hosting the Games should also be a celebration of Britishness. Not just our sporting prowess (the likes of which we have in abundance: Hoy, Daley, Ennis to name but a few), but, also in the arts, business, and of our vast and enviable heritage. I mean, we have Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire, overseeing the creation and development of the Opening Ceremony. When people from the four corners of the world tour the country and its capital, we should delight in the fact that they are experiencing this wonderful land of Shakespeare, Darwin, Lennon and Queen Victoria; the cradle for many of the world’s finest pioneers.
So wrap yourself in the Union Jack, smile, drink some Earl Grey, talk about Churchill, smile some more; and bask in the immense privilege of being British – that is what next year is really about. And if you don’t? Well, I’m afraid that’s just not cricket.