International cooperation.

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I have mixed feelings about the Olympics. I have a cynical side that thinks ‘what a waste of money!’, ‘this is just masking the world’s problems!’, and ‘what happened to it being an amateur competition?’. I used to be in floods of tears during the opening ceremonies, now I roll my eyes fairly often and check the time quite a lot.

Actually, this will be the first year where I won’t even have an opportunity to see the opening ceremonies (except in clips on the news later), since I will be homeless and hotelless tomorrow afternoon while they’re going on. I suppose I could find a bar with televisions, but if I’m in Montréal for the day (a very rare event – almost rarer than the Olympics), that just seems lame.

This will also be the first year since 2000 that I’ve not been in the UK for at least part of the summer Olympics (ironic, given where they are this year). It’s quite odd to watch the Olympics in a country that is not one’s own (if one can ‘own’ a country) because a) they don’t show athletes from your homeland much and b) they focus on sports that you’ve barely thought of, let alone watched. In 2004, I was disappointed to learn just how popular Olympic Sailing was and that equestrian events really dominated the coverage (and that dressage is fucking boring). Luckily, Canadians and Brits alike are really into things like rowing.

The economics of the Olympics are nonsensical, though. After Vancouver, the ‘wonderful’ new housing built to house athletes (and, later, plebes) lay empty and cut-priced, the developers had been cut off by investors, bailed out by the City of Vancouver and the B.C. government, and only half of the housing units had been sold as of 2011. Though, compared to the 1976 games in Montreal, that’s nothing, really.

The Athens games in 2004 probably precipitated the country’s financial ruin and stadiums lie empty because many Olympic sports just aren’t that popular in Greece.

The Beijing games in 2008, meant to showcase China’s new world dominance, brought us amazing looking structures that have since been taken down, or are falling to bits and/or largely unused.

The U.K. has been in a financial crisis for several years now. I don’t think the London Olympics are going to provide any kind of long-term economic boost to the city, or the country, because, and if you’ve ever been to London, you’ll know this, it is fucking overrun with fucking tourists all the fucking time and they stand on the fucking escalators in the tube on the fucking left side and can’t figure out how to fucking cross the fucking street and fucking can’t pronounce ‘Leicester Square’ properly. The city can barely support the number of tourists they have already and I don’t know how an Olympics is supposed to benefit the economy in other ways, especially when contractors are unreliable and the government has to bring in the military to help.

And did I mention the missiles on top of apartment buildings blocks of flats?

That all shouldn’t happen for sports, should it? There’s a huge amount of money and nationalism in sport, so I don’t understand how and why the Olympics can’t be distilled into something economically sustainable and beneficial. The endless showing off (I’m a little scared of what Danny Boyle’s efforts will produce) and throwing money at problems instead of more, dare I say it, sensible and realistic planning are pretty fucking disgusting. I know the IOC isn’t exactly known for its efficiency, and I sure as hell don’t know all (any of) the factors involved in one of the biggest quadrennial events in the world, but this could be done better. So much better.

That having been said, I will probably watch a lot of the diving and gymnastics and other sports in which I had never had any hope in hell of competing. And lament (again) that CTV is running them instead of the CBC. I miss this theme music a great deal.

Here (from the 2:46 mark) is Stephen Fry talking about the amazing events of the 1904 Olympics in St Louis.

One thought on “International cooperation.

  1. Jackie

    The Olympics is something I love… in other places. And I can’t let myself think too deeply about it, because I tend to get angry for all the reasons you mentioned. I get nervous when Toronto talks about bidding for these things, because I agree it tends to misallocate resources and financially strain if not outright bankrupt the places it touches. Also, good lord, the transportation infrastructure we have is inadequate for our own citizens as it is, we cannot stop fighting long enough to do anything about it, and I can’t see that situation improving for something like an Olympic games, which will only serve to elevate us from a national shame to a global one, in the organization and governmental cooperation realm. Honestly, I’m positive we’d fuck it up bigtime.

    But, you know, yay for the athletes and go Canada go and all that. I’m glad those folks get such an exciting opportunity. That part is amazing.

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