Not like the Queen, but like John Hurt
July 16, 2012 2:27 AM   Subscribe

"We thought we were hosts like the queen is at a posh garden party, when actually we're hosts in the way that John Hurt is in Alien." As the Olympics approach, the scandals, inconveniences, mistakes and problems keep mounting, ranging from the frustrating through the comic to the tragic. For your appreciation, a picture of the London Olympics 2012.

Public opinion on the games is tepid at best, with more that half of Britons saying they are not interested. Sold on the promise of encouraging public particpation in sport and exercise, despite a poor track record at previous Olympics, the UK government has actually cut the budget of the public sport authority and abandoned targets of getting people active. Meanwhile, the largest expanse of football playing fields in Europe, home to 1500 players and nearly 100 Sunday league matches has been swallowed up by an Olympic carpark. Even access to canals and walkways around the Olympic site has been throttled severely.

There are reports that ticket sales have sagged (when the sales website works anyway), with talk of corruption in ticket deals, while it has been necessary to give away tickets for some events.

Authorities have promised "inspirational stories" from the Olympic torch bearers. Strangely, the identities of many remain mysterious while others appear to work for game sponsors. With some torch bearers trying to sell their torches perhaps the sight of will.i.am texting as he carried the torch through Somerset isn't as out of step as it seems.

Olympic provider G4S has admitted to failing to deliver sufficient security staff for the games and is unsure if security staff speak English, with recruits complaining about no uniforms, no schedules and inadequate training. A whistle-blower has warned that a bomb would have a 50-50 chance of getting past security checks. Elsewhere, surface-to-air missiles have been installed on rooftops in East London. It's been pointed out that any aircraft thus shot down would crash ... on London, but perhaps it's just for show.

Days after cutbacks in the military were annouced, the army has been called in to bolster staffing shortfalls. More soldiers will be deployed in the UK than in Afghanistan. Some have called for compensation for inconvenience, extra hours, cancelled leave and holidays, while others have said the solders should have taken out holiday insurance.

The traffic lanes dedicated to Olympic traffic (including sponsors) are kicking in, with some confusion. As a result, one central London road simply disappears as it turns into two lanes of which drivers can use neither. Others have pointed this is out of step with the Olympics focus on an active lifestyle, although it's arguably in line with the policy of asking people to stay away.

Almost 300 "brand enforcement" officers are searching the country for unauthorized use of the Olympic brand, including use of the words "gold", "silver", "bronze", "summer" and "London". And thanks to a corporate monopoly, chips can only be served on the Olympic site if they are served with fish.

"The relationship between the country and the Games feels like that of a couple whose long-dodgy marriage is falling to pieces thanks to the stress of hosting a huge party. All you do is clench the teeth and hope to get through it without a bust-up". Finally, some have noted the absence from the Olympics of the great British sports of cricket, polo, caber-tossing and cheese rolling.
posted by outlier (300 comments total) 136 users marked this as a favorite

 
Outstanding post. A whole day of luxuriating in spleen-venting ahead of me. In a month's time we'll be able to regret how far we could have gone towards heading off this country's energy generating capacity collapse with the money spent on an egg and spoon race in the pissing rain.
posted by falcon at 2:44 AM on July 16, 2012 [35 favorites]


Ooooooooh the schadenfreude. I am filled with such glee.

I like watching the Olympics on TV. The Olympic cartel, however, really needs to go.
posted by sixohsix at 2:49 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


If London is such a shitshow, I can't fathom what Sochi is going to be like in 18 months' time.

My enthusiasm for the whole spectacle has been in a steady decline since I was about ten.
posted by pdq at 2:51 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


The nobs who bid for these things will have a splendid time in their corporate boxes, and their counterparts will be eager to spend oodles of others' money on hosting the thing next time around. All of these concerns are the concerns of little people.
posted by pompomtom at 2:58 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wish we had an official "Fuck the Olympics" symbol. I'd thought perhaps five interlocking sphincters, but it turns out to be a lot more difficult to draw than I'd expected.
posted by Grangousier at 2:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [52 favorites]


Considering that the only possible interpretation of the official logo is Lisa Simpson giving someone a blowjob, I think your fuck the olympics symbol is already here.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:00 AM on July 16, 2012 [36 favorites]


I predict that in less than a decade's time the Olympics will mostly be an excuse for squads of armed goons to drive around the host city in Humvees, occasionally pulling over to brutally and grievously wound any civilians caught using a voluntary muscle group without a corporate sponsor's name tattooed on their forehead.
posted by No-sword at 3:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


London Olympics: All class.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 3:02 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to point out that ancient polo was developed by the Persians; modern polo originates from a version played in Manipur, India.
posted by the cydonian at 3:04 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the idea that the Olympics now get their own enabling laws that disturbs me. I'm from BC and one did rather get the impression that Gordo would have invoked the notwithstanding clause if he'd had to in order to make the Vancouver Winter Olympics run smooth.

Also: How the blistering fuck do you not hire enough people to work security when there's 8% unemployment for the past three years, and your contract specifies how many people you have to hire? It's mind boggling. Did no-one try, say, counting?
posted by Grimgrin at 3:09 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I can't help but wonder what will happen at the next Critical Mass, which just happens to be when the games start..
posted by doop at 3:10 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Let's not forget that you are not allowed to link to the Olympics website if, as per the site's T&C's, your link "shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner."
posted by Len at 3:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


I forgot to add the surreal London's Amazingly Explicit Surveillance State Mascot For The 2012 Olympics
posted by outlier at 3:16 AM on July 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


I give the Olympics a gold medal in shark jumping.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:16 AM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


And from this side of The Pond...
The Olympic torch lands in London in two weeks, but don’t expect many Massachusetts spectators to make the journey.

“I was going to go,” said Ginger Plexico, a Chatham resident with a penchant for all things British. “But it will be so crowded, so congested, that I’m not going.”

The 72-year-old has friends to stay with in London, but she’s putting her travel dollars elsewhere: “I’m going to Cambodia in October instead.”

Tickets to the opening ceremony are priced in the thousands, and many hotels are doubling room rates in late July and early August. So Plexico, like many other New Englanders, is content to watch the international sporting event on television. NBC, which will carry the Summer Olympics, expects 200 million Americans to tune in over 17 days starting July 2.

Boston-area travel companies that sell Olympics packages have not found many takers — even at the height of vacation season. Daniel Pranka, of New England Sports Tours in Saugus, has not had a single call for the world’s largest sporting event this year.

... How expensive are the games?

According to CoSport, the official Olympic ticket vendor in the United States, remaining tickets range from $600 to watch the gold medal round of boxing to nearly $7,000 for a premium seat at the opening ceremonies. Some spectators, looking for deals, will try to buy tickets from resellers in London.
posted by ericb at 3:16 AM on July 16, 2012


Oh, and credit where credit is due: previously
posted by outlier at 3:17 AM on July 16, 2012


Speaking as an adopted Londoner (you would never have guessed from my username) I have been trying to stay positive about the Olympics despite ever-mounting suspicions that we Londoners could balls it right up.

Having stupidly failed to arrange to be out of the country during the Games, we decided that we'd try for some tickets. I want to take particular issue with the ticketing website as discussed in the Telegraph link above. I can't believe that article was written in May as the EXACT same problems persist to this day. LOCOG are supposedly releasing batches of tickets still, and the website shows some events as available, but if you actually try to book the tickets they suddenly come up as unavailable. Maddening.

We were lucky last year in the ticket lottery to get Men's Boxing final tickets - which are in the Excel Centre, not the Olympic Park - but I have had no success whatsoever in getting tickets for any event within the Park. I did manage to get tickets (at £10 a pop) for entry to the Park itself but this doesn't get you into any events. This will literally be our Olympic experience, paying a tenner each to visit a park and watch other people go into buildings while we pay for overpriced chips. Most probably in the rain. As a long-time resident this is a very disappointing prospect.
posted by LondonYank at 3:18 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Olympics is (are?) shit. Nothing more than a way for rich people to get richer on the backs of athletes who don't get any money for it, most of whom aren't photogenic enough or involved in popular enough sports to make any money on endorsements and the like. Add on top of that the fact that it's an excuse for nationalistic flag waving bullshit and the horrible police repression that increasingly accompanies the Games (if you have protesty friends in Vancouver you know exactly what I mean) and it's all a horrible mess that the world could do without. Build 'em an island off the coast of Greece and let them shit all over that island and leave the rest of the world alone.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:28 AM on July 16, 2012 [39 favorites]


I just started watching the Twenty Twelve BBC comedy series. It's probably closer to reality than anyone in the 2012 Olympics organization would care to admit. Reading this post convinces me that where it's less than accurate, it's mainly due to fact being stranger, funnier or more infuriating than fiction, not because it would go too far in its depiction.
posted by jklaiho at 3:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The only thing olympic about these games is the mess. London Olympic Reality more closely resembles an episode of Hitchhiker's Guide.
posted by Goofyy at 3:30 AM on July 16, 2012


The English people have an ability to find the incompetence and corruption required to fail comedically in many situations.

Anyone who's ever used British train websites knows we'll their failures. Yes, Spain's Renfe managed to maintain a worse website, but overall the Brits design more transport services and websites badly.

I'm hoping the London Olympics surpasses the comedic value of the opening months of Heathrow Terminal 5.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:34 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tepid support is to the English what enthusiasm is to the rest of the world.
posted by srboisvert at 3:36 AM on July 16, 2012 [24 favorites]


But, it's so magical.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:36 AM on July 16, 2012


Part of the problem is that for Londoners this summer it's very easy to get into the doom and gloom business because we have not had any worthwhile summer yet, and it's mid-July. It's literally been overcast and raining for the past 8 weeks with only the occasional (and poorly-forecasted) sunbeam shining through. And there was only really a week or two of OK weather in May, prior to which was an entire month of rain in April.

Put another way, when you've gone through a 9-month winter only to face several months worth of inclement weather, and haven't even managed so much as a picnic and you're halfway through your "summer", it's pretty easy to take a dim view of things. Lots of people I know (including myself) are going slightly stir-crazy and many people are entertaining the idea of impracticably expensive last-minute getaways to anywhere with warmth and sun because they just can't take this shit anymore. Add the Olympishambles and its attendant hassle to London and you can forgive us for not doing jumping jacks at the thought of it...
posted by LondonYank at 3:37 AM on July 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


Considering that the only possible interpretation of the official logo is Lisa Simpson giving someone a blowjob

oh god i can't unsee it
posted by louche mustachio at 3:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [19 favorites]


Grangousier: this is what you are looking for.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just started watching the Twenty Twelve BBC comedy series. It's probably closer to reality than anyone in the 2012 Olympics organization would care to admit. Reading this post convinces me that where it's less than accurate, it's mainly due to fact being stranger, funnier or more infuriating than fiction, not because it would go too far in its depiction.

Twenty Twelve is based on the Australian comedy series The Games, which was centred (of course) around the Sydney Olympics. After the show had a plotline in which the Olympic pool was discovered to be 5 metres short, the sprinting lanes at the (real) Olympics were found to be short. The series writers subsequently confessed their difficulty at coming up with anything more ridiculous than reality.
posted by outlier at 3:46 AM on July 16, 2012 [19 favorites]


Look into the special enterprize zone laws for the Olympic park. Tax free! The olympics require a two week corporate tax haven to even consider a country as host. That's right. You foot the infrastructure and security bill and they get all the profits. All the profits!
posted by srboisvert at 3:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I forgot to add the surreal London's Amazingly Explicit Surveillance State Mascot For The 2012 Olympics

Some Amazon reviews of same.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:49 AM on July 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


The first and next paragraphs don't match up. Although I can feel for Londoners whose town must seem like it has been taken over, the poll results show that uninterest in the Olympics grows as you move away. Northerners from Birmingham upward are less likely to care about the Olympics than southerners, despite not being barely touched by all the stupidity is has brought. I find this rather odd, for I like the thought of watching what I want but turning it off and not having to think further about the Olympics. It's always something best enjoyed at a distance.

Also, regarding the McDonald's thing, it's my homeland-loving duty as an Englisher to point out they don't sell chips. I can't think of an English person saying "I feel like having chips," and then popping down to McDonald's to get some. It is like something a spy pretending to be English would say.
posted by Jehan at 3:50 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I read most of the links, and I can't help but think that we are making a big deal out of... Not much.
Ok, maybe some people's commutes will be longer for a few weeks. (it looks like that's really the main complaint)
Ok, it's hard to get tickets (did you ever try getting tickets to an Arsenal match? A giants game?)
Ok, it's going to cost tons to London and the UK (tough that your tax money is going to construction workers and security guards rather than to bail out banks)

And that's the price to pay to maintain a tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, that has given us moments such as Jesse Owens winning in the face of nazi Germany; the black power salute in the sixties; and countless beautiful human stories? Sounds good to me....
posted by Riton at 3:54 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh, and the most chilling things about G4S being unredeemably incompetent, is that they run security at some English jails, airports and what, and sometimes murder people.
posted by Jehan at 3:58 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's becoming such an impossible storm of embarrassment I'm almost expecting them to suddenly pull back a giant cloth the day before the opening ceremony and reveal that it was all just a big ARG to market the revival of Fawlty Towers: Basil - PM.
posted by lucidium at 4:03 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Waterstones on Oxford Street had a brilliant tweet: "So, as we can't say the name of the big sporting event because we're not a sponsor, we shall call it Voldesport. That which cannot be named!"

I have been referring to it as Voldesport ever since.

And let's not forget The Ravelymp .. sorry, The Ravellenic Games incident in which enthusiastic Voldesport watchers were planning a knit-along. They were told in no uncertain terms by the US Voldesport committee that this act would not only infringe upon trademarks (which is fair enough) but also "denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games”

And yes, unsold tickets are being given away here in this fair city of Glasgow, Scotland. We are hosting some of the football/soccer matches and nobody seems to give a damn.
posted by kariebookish at 4:07 AM on July 16, 2012 [38 favorites]


Riton: I can't help but think that we are making a big deal out of... Not much.

No. the commute really isn't the main complaint. This is a country that faces a £4 trillion deficit in its pension and old age medical obligations. It's a country which is dismantling its basic public services. It's a country which unwisely dismantled its manufacturing capability and backed global finance on the verge of the collapse of global finance. It's a country which is about to retire 25% of its ancient and unsafe electricity generating capacity without any plan for replacement. It's a country that suffers from 30-60,000 cold related deaths a year due to fuel poverty. It's a country that has other uses for £24 billion, and no use for white elephant media centres, velodromes, and a government that seeks to distract its X-Factor goggling citizens with the modern equivalent of Roman Games as a substitute for fixing our shit.
posted by falcon at 4:10 AM on July 16, 2012 [118 favorites]


oh god i can't unsee it

I know, I know. I mean, that's what it is, now. I was just hoping for something more derogatory of the wretched spectacle than the official logo.

Grangousier: this is what you are looking for.

And I think that might be it.
posted by Grangousier at 4:11 AM on July 16, 2012


Falcon: who gets the 24bn? In the end?
posted by Riton at 4:16 AM on July 16, 2012


Riton: Falcon: who gets the 24bn? In the end?

Mostly, companies whose tax responsibilities are entirely routed through Luxembourg, Jersey and the Cayman Islands.
posted by Len at 4:18 AM on July 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


I have personally never understood the appeal of the olympic games, but that's fine, they're not for me. But I really don't understand how having the best amateurs in the world compete against each other requires such fascist corporate infrastructure and vast budget.
posted by maxwelton at 4:22 AM on July 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


This discussion prompted me to have another go on the Olympishambles ticketing website.

It's still falsely advertising many events in the Olympic Park as available, only for the availability to vanish once one has the temerity to request the tickets.

Worse is the false hope given for acquiring tickets to the men's football semi-finals in Wembley. There it does actually allow you to purchase tickets. The site initially shows you three classes of available tickets, from Class C (£45) to Class A (£125). You pick Class C, because £45 to watch a football match seems actually quite reasonable. But somewhere in the bowels of this website your request for two £45 tickets automagically morphs into a request for two £125 tickets, with no option to "downgrade".

Twats.
posted by LondonYank at 4:23 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Oh, and this post gets a gold.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:23 AM on July 16, 2012


Olympics calling, now don't look at us


All that phoney sportsmania has bitten the dust...
posted by Renoroc at 4:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Considering that the only possible interpretation of the official logo is Lisa Simpson giving someone a blowjob, I think your fuck the olympics symbol is already here.

You are crazy. It's clearly a zionist symbol.
We're through the rabbit hole people.
posted by Mezentian at 4:26 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh this post is great.

I'm a sucker for the Olympics, although the coverage we get here in Australia has historically been pathetic...hour after hour of replays of someone winning a gold medal in the pool, no broadcast of sports which are actually a bit different and interesting.

Anyway, despite that I can't help watching it, I just can't stand the whole machine.

We pretend it's some great, historic cultural event, some global community festivity.

It's not a cultural event if you aren't even allowed to share your own photos of it. Not if you can get into trouble wearing a shirt with the wrong brand name on it, where laws are passed to ensure One Privileged Seller Of Deep Fried Potato Products. It's got nothing to do with community if a city shuts down and puts up walls for it.

TV revenues must really be down, right? What's going on? It wasn't like this in the 50s. It wasn't even like this in the 80s. The Olympic Games seemed to survive financially, in the past, before they started threatening takeaway shops who offer a "Gold Medal Breakfast" without paying for the privilege. We didn't used to need to threaten to shoot down planes in an urban area, to enable people to run around a track really fast. And so the whole thing feels like an intense reduction of all the stupid shit that is going on, everywhere. It feels like the peak of the tide, the height of the parabola, the pole vaulter reaching the top, before the rapid descent. Because surely this shit can't keep getting worse.

Anyway, I get angry, and I start regarding all that corporate/branding/security rubbish as a sincere challenge for me to fuck with. Somehow. Highly offensive derivative logos sound like a nice place to start, but as was revealed above, it seems LOCOG already have that in check...
posted by Jimbob at 4:28 AM on July 16, 2012 [56 favorites]


@Riton: I think it's more the obvious corruption of making large corporations like Visa and McDonalds the sole provider of their type of service, outlawing advertising of any alternatives, actively hindering competitors (such as removing all the cash points in the olympic area and replacing them with ones that only accept visa), and then finally letting these large corporations pay basically no tax on the money they make from these extremely favourable conditions.

In short, it's a massive transfer of money from local people and local businesses to a bunch of multinationals.

Oh, and the fundamental indignity that the right to free expression is apparently subordinate to the concerns of corporate branding.
posted by Zarkonnen at 4:28 AM on July 16, 2012 [35 favorites]


The ticket giveaways for the football are mostly for women's games - The UK doesn't have much of a culture of women's sports, so no one's really interested. That's more of a comment on the state of feminism in the UK than on anything else.

Ditto the complaints on how hard it was to get tickets - many people lost out in the first round, but it was absurdly easy to get reasonably-priced tickets to events in the Olympic park in the second round if you were interested in a women's team sport. Those who are complaining that they were "unable to get tickets" mostly really mean they were unable to get the tickets they wanted, to men's events, especially the cycling, the opening ceremonies, or mixed sessions of track and field or that they were unable to get the (too) few promotional tickets at 20 Pounds 12 p.

This is not to say there aren't issues - online ticketing is a mess, seat allocation to sponsors has been too large and not transparent enough, people from outside of London are right to complain that only London transport is given with tickets, rather than any sort of discounts on non-local rail - but there's a lot of highly specific ticket complaining going on.
posted by Wylla at 4:29 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I get the feeling, reading this, that if the thing had gone off perfectly you'd hate it even more because what you like most about the Olympics is whining about it. I mean the tickets cock-up is annoying and the security problems are serious and certainly worthy of condemnation. But they closed down a bike line for a couple weeks and made a temporary parking lot? Heavens forfend! As for the money --- I mean, y'all have seen the last 20 or so Olympics, yes? They're always an orgy of corporate sponsorship, they're always super-expensive, they're always a bit of a boondoggle. If that was the problem, protest the bid, fine. Makes total sense. But that ship sailed when y'all won the rights to the damn thing. It's not like you didn't know what you were in for. It's like going on a seaside holiday and complaining about shingle beaches.

I dunno, maybe you have to be a quasi-dictatorship to make the thing come off well. But I'd be slightly ashamed if my country was hosting a huge global event and the only thing we natives excelled in was giving out about it.
posted by Diablevert at 4:36 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not like you didn't know what you were in for.

Hands up British person in the room who put in the bid to host the Olympics?
posted by Jimbob at 4:39 AM on July 16, 2012 [36 favorites]


LondonYank: This discussion prompted me to have another go on the Olympishambles ticketing website.

My experience was similar. Look for tickets to football in Manchester. Site says they are available. Add to basket. Go to basket, they're not listed. Re-tried, they were then added twice. I did eventually sort it out, but I'm not sure how.

The official schedule is a joke as well. I gave up on trying to work out who was actually playing when and where, and went to Wikipedia, which of course had it all laid out perfectly.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Look, I can't comment on the London games but I can comment on the Sydney games. I was a volunteer in Canberra where the preliminary football (soccer) games were played in 2000.

I saw FIFA offficials strut around as though they owned the city, picking up things off desks (stationery, gifts from teams, etc) and pocketing them. I noticed that FIFA had young hot teenage girls as their administrative staff and interpreters and they were groped and ogled, and it made my skin crawl.

I saw Australian volunteers steal anything that wasn't nailed down (and occasionally some stuff that WAS nailed down). I froze on the nights that I had to drive teams to Bruce Stadium for drug tests because my official-Olympic-supplied-jacket was stolen from a locked vehicle inside the secure area that only police and volunteers could access.

I saw, I'm sorry to say, the US football team abuse the Nigerian team because the Nigerian coach had the sense to book the bus to the stadium within a sensible timeframe... apparently the US team though they should have priority even though the porn-star-moustached coach hadn't thought to book a bus.

I drove a Brazilian female soccer player back to her motel because she had horrible menstrual cramps. No male driver would volunteer to take her because she was 'being a wimp'. (I wouldn't be surprised if she was having a miscarriage, she was in awful pain and I couldn't get her back to the motel - and medical assistance - quickly enough.)

On the upside, I drove a pair of Japanese footballers to the stadium early one evening, for drug testing before their game. Not only did they give me a very rare pin (I've been offered hundreds of dollars for it), but I got to escort them through a wire-fence tunnel as the Japanese fans screamed and cried in utter Bieber-esque fandom.

I've never felt more like a rock star.

But the experience, while fascinating, put me off the Olympics for life.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [67 favorites]


The ticket giveaways for the football are mostly for women's games - The UK doesn't have much of a culture of women's sports, so no one's really interested. That's more of a comment on the state of feminism in the UK than on anything else.

Surely the free-market Anglocapitalist solution to this would be to replace the existing women's sports with ones more appealing to the male gaze market sensibilities, such as, say, Foxy Boxing or jelly wrestling.
posted by acb at 4:40 AM on July 16, 2012


I dunno, maybe you have to be a quasi-dictatorship to make the thing come off well.

As far as organization is concerned, the 1936 Berlin Games and 1980 Moscow Games are pretty much the Gold standard for how to run an Olympic game.
posted by Renoroc at 4:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm almost certain I saw that John Hurt joke doing the rounds on Twitter last week.
posted by anaximander at 4:41 AM on July 16, 2012


I quite like the Olympics, and the London mess is turning me into a pessimist. We could have sold the taxpayer-funded Olympic village to the Wellcome Trust for £1bn to develop a centre for research and innovation, instead we sold it to property developers at a loss. We could be focusing on encouraging walking and cycling to the games, maybe capitalise on the cycling medals we're likely to win, but instead we are making it more difficult to cycle so we can let cars go faster in their special reserved lanes. The Olympics has given us a lot of memorable moments, but I'm pretty sure you could still have a memorable Olympics without selling exclusive rights to the Olympic cash machines or setting up massive tax breaks for sponsors.
posted by penguinliz at 4:42 AM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


I dunno, maybe you have to be a quasi-dictatorship to make the thing come off well.

That can and will be arranged.

The totalitarian roots of the modern Olympics are by no means new; the IOC chief Juan Antonio Samaranch was a Falangist (i.e., Spanish Fascist), after all.

The nasty thing is that the enabling legislation has a habit of sticking around for the convenience of future governments. The legislation the NSW government passed for the Sydney 2000 games was used to suppress protests a few years later when a sex-scandal-hit Catholic Church held its “World Youth Day” in Sydney.
posted by acb at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hands up British person in the room who put in the bid to host the Olympics?

[Puts hands in pockets. Discovers wallet has been nicked in a queue for the Albania/Zimbabwe mud wrestling quarter final]
posted by falcon at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If that was the problem, protest the bid, fine. Makes total sense. But that ship sailed when y'all won the rights to the damn thing.

Speaking as a New Yorker who was subject to massive amounts of hype for that city's failed 2012 bid, it was abundantly clear to me that citizens have ZERO voice in the process. The Olympics is good for the local/national government because it's prestigious, brings in tourist money and new construction money (even if it's a boondoggle in the long run). The corporations love it because they get global exposure and get to set up their fiefdoms in the host city.

Why would the voice of the electorate be allowed to get in the way of an incredible money-making opportunity?
posted by Bromius at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [21 favorites]


Jimbob, if there's one thing I'm fairly sure about, is that no matter how stupid and wrong things may be, they can always get worse.

Greed and stupidity are infinite resources.
posted by Malor at 4:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


What's driving me over the edge are the increasingly surreal Boris Johnson tannoys on the underground. It's a new one every couple of days, and they're becoming increasingly, desperately folksy, as though he wants to assure us all he's down. I swear he's going to start his next announcement with "Yo dogs! This is the Mayor, here ..."
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:44 AM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


We could be focusing on encouraging walking and cycling to the games, maybe capitalise on the cycling medals we're likely to win, but instead we are making it more difficult to cycle so we can let cars go faster in their special reserved lanes.

Let's refer to them as “ZIL Lanes”, after the limousines of Soviet dignitaries who had lanes on Moscow's roads reserved for them.
posted by acb at 4:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of the time I worked in England for a while and there were some really annoying things that everyone complained about and I was all "let's change them" and one of my co-workers took me aside and said that the English national hobby was whinging about stuff (his words, not mine) and to let it go. So I did and then later I took a job in California and as far as I know they are still whinging about the same things. And OMG they were easily fixed....

And also as a formerly pretty good athlete with friends who went to the Olympics, for most of them it's an all expense paid awesome-ness experience. And it opens lots of doors. So yeah, they don't get cold hard cash from it but it pays off because everyone thinks you're awesome and you know how to work hard and play the game if you went to the Olympics. Even being long listed pays off.
posted by fshgrl at 4:47 AM on July 16, 2012


No. the commute really isn't the main complaint.

It's not, but don't underestimate it. They're talking about 30-60 minute waits just to get from the ticket barriers to the platform at London Bridge, Canary Wharf etc. Even assuming the trains all run smoothly and nothing goes wrong, I don't really fancy doubling my commuting time. And if anything goes wrong, anything at all, the system will collapse completely. And something will go wrong, whether it's signalling problems or a suicide or someone being sick on a train.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:47 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Olympics should be a celebration of humanity.
It is sad to see them become so divisive and controversial.
posted by Flood at 4:49 AM on July 16, 2012


But I'd be slightly ashamed if my country was hosting a huge global event and the only thing we natives excelled in was giving out about it.

The thing is, those events are forced upon us, not wanted in the first place other than by a small elist group of athletes, corporate sponsors and other parasites. It does nothing for the city and country holding it, it's a massive wast of money and it's always sold with the idea that it will leave behind a legacy, that it will encourage grass root sports and such, when in reality all it leaves behind are unwanted stadiums for minority sports.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:51 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


The Olympics should be a celebration of humanity.

Well, they're not. They're a festival of theft and jingoism. Get used to it.
posted by Grangousier at 4:53 AM on July 16, 2012 [36 favorites]


Twenty Twelve is based on the Australian comedy series The Games, which was centred (of course) around the Sydney Olympics. After the show had a plotline in which the Olympic pool was discovered to be 5 metres short, the sprinting lanes at the (real) Olympics were found to be short.

They also had another plotline where it was discovered that the 100m stadium track was only "about a hundred meters" which lead to one of my favorite exchanges from the series and capped off with the John Clarke telling the contractor:

Next Wednesday, Mr. Wilson, we've got the New South Wales school championships out here and someone's going to break a world record!
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


But I'd be slightly ashamed if my country was hosting a huge global event and the only thing we natives excelled in was giving out about it.

Isn't it rather more shameful that the natives are the victims of a colossal exercise in misdirection and are too disconnected from physical reality to notice?
posted by falcon at 4:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


No. the commute really isn't the main complaint.

It's not, but don't underestimate it. They're talking about 30-60 minute waits just to get from the ticket barriers to the platform at London Bridge, Canary Wharf etc.
Absolutely. Part of the "complaint" is the sense that people here get of everyone who actually has to use this city as anything other than a theme-park or plaything being completely elbowed to one side. It feels like something more than just neglect or unconcern—actual contempt, maybe. My local overground station is going to be shut for the duration of the Games. So is the nearest DLR station. The bus lanes that would get me to North Greenwich are going to be commandeered for the Olympic "family," and the station itself is probably going to be unusable. So that's (1) Jubilee Line; (2) DLR; (3) bus all now to all intents and purposes off-limits to me because some more important people (tourists; the idle rich) want to use them. Er, how am I going to get to work? Or get anywhere?

It's emblematic of living in Britain generally under the coalition. We're governed—for the first time in a century—by actual, honest-to-God aristocrats. The idle rich. People who have never had to concern themselves with anything as prole-ish and unpleasant as catching a bus or having a non-hobby job or doing one's own shopping. They have no clue how the economy actually works, and they don't care. Getting to work in the morning is for the little people, unfortunately. And we don't count.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [70 favorites]


I'd love seeing the Olympics' tax free status revoked at the last minute by a citizens referendum someplace, that'd just rock.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:02 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


you are not allowed to link to the Olympics website if, as per the site's T&C's, your link "shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner

I'm sitting here trying to think of something I can say that is derogatory and objectionable, yet also false and/or misleading, and I'm struggling.
posted by Segundus at 5:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [18 favorites]


My most recent injection of Olympics cynicism was walking through a mall littered with banners proclaiming Westfield as the "official mall" of the Olympics. They're not even pretending anymore, are they?
posted by like_neon at 5:18 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sports have zero presence in my life (If organized sport disappeared today, I wouldn't even notice), so most of this stuff about the Olympics was news to me. What this thread has me wondering is, will this hyper-commercialization of the games give rise to an alternative kind of international games? Kind of like a Sundance or a Lollapalooza analog, that tries to preserve the spirit of the games and international goodwill that's been lost on the official games (before it itself gets just as co-opted a la Sundance and Lollapalooza, anyhow)?

Just curious, as cool stuff has been known to arise in reaction to discontent with stuff that used to be cool, but is now way played out. But like I said, I have no idea how this would work in the world of sport.

/dialectic
posted by Rykey at 5:21 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just went the official website to double-check when the damn thing actually starts (and verify, to my relief, that I'd be safely laid out on a beach in another country that day) and one of the big headlines was for the largest pop-up souvenir store yet opening. So, no, definitely not pretending anymore.
posted by kalimac at 5:21 AM on July 16, 2012


The Olympics should be a celebration of humanity.
They're a festival of theft and jingoism.


Theft and Jingoism - yup that's Humanity.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:22 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


The really upsetting thing is that at the heart of this despicable shitshow are a few thousand athletes who have worked for their entire lives to compete in these events, and in doing so demonstrate some of the best of what's possible athletically and physically. If you can watch them break down as they win their first bronze, silver or gold and not be even slightly moved, you have no heart.

It's why it's so hard to condemn the whole operation. They're like the sweet kids with the mafia boss father and the evil mother who abuses the servants. It's not their fault, and you don't want to damage them while you try to deal with the parents.
posted by fightorflight at 5:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [28 favorites]


It's not all for nothing - perhaps after the games London will be able to have its very own Exhibition of Successive Chairmen of the IOC’ Waxen Images (scroll down).
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Grimgrin writes "How the blistering fuck do you not hire enough people to work security when there's 8% unemployment for the past three years, and your contract specifies how many people you have to hire? It's mind boggling. Did no-one try, say, counting?"

The security job is short term so you'd spend a lot of your contract money training the unemployed (security guard training around here lasts longer than the games) and then only get work out of them for a few weeks. Not the kind of thing you want to be doing if your contract doesn't require it. So you say you were unable to hire qualified staff and get the employer to cover the shortfall with combat troops (I'm guessing they army guys aren't military police).
posted by Mitheral at 5:28 AM on July 16, 2012


So it's taken the Olympics coming to my country to go from being a fan of them to borderline indifference / hate. I think we saw it coming from a long time back from when we first saw the hideous graphic design... but I've just been continually disappointed. Dome Mark 2 plus added George Orwell. If I was less lazy I'd change my name by deed poll to 'Olympic Games London 2012 Gold Silver Bronze' just for the lulz.

I didn't bother going to the torch relay but my mother did and she was shocked at how corporate and hard sell the whole thing was, with continuous pressure to buy 'memorabilia'. Plus an ex-paralympian turned up and was treated pretty much as an embarrassment and shoved off to one side.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Diablevert - I mean the tickets cock-up is annoying and the security problems are serious and certainly worthy of condemnation. But they closed down a bike line for a couple weeks and made a temporary parking lot? Heavens forfend!

The road network in central London is already pretty cramped and convoluted, as it's an old, unplanned city in which exorbitant land costs and constant high traffic have made it very difficult to make even minor changes, much less add lanes to increase capacity. Like the public transport network, the roads struggle to accommodate the everyday traffic. Adding a huge amount of traffic while simultaneously removing significant chunks of capacity is not going to be fun. Calls for Londoners to avoid "unnecessary" travel and to work from home where possible have at least some Londoners basically expecting to be housebound for a fortnight. That this missing transport capacity is widely perceived as being a fast lane for rich people -- IOC officials, politicians and media partners -- is only serving to piss people off further.

And we're not just talking about short term effects. I have friends who ended up having to give up their flats in East London because their landlords got better offers from TV companies and similar outfits. I recently spent a couple of months living in Stratford (the London region where the games will be held), and my room was in a local pub that had been bought, gutted and turned into grotty accommodation in the hope of charging exorbitant rates to games visitors later in the year. No-one seems to have a plan for these neighbourhoods when the games are finished and half the flats and houses are left sitting empty. Virtually noone has any faith that the "Legacy" projects will actually live up to their promises, or that things like turning that carpark back into football fields will be made a priority.

As for the money --- I mean, y'all have seen the last 20 or so Olympics, yes? They're always an orgy of corporate sponsorship, they're always super-expensive, they're always a bit of a boondoggle.

This is happening in the context of the Tory/LibDem coalition slashing public services, inviting private companies to set up their own schools, increasing university fees, and doing their best to dismantle the NHS, which they have justified by constantly bombarding us with the message that things like libraries, education and healthcare are all luxuries that we can't currently afford. It's no wonder that people are a little twitchy about this.

If that was the problem, protest the bid, fine. Makes total sense.
Some people did. Protests don't achieve much. Additionally, the bid was very different from the reality. From Wikipedia:
The original budget for the games was £2.4 billion, but this was increased almost fourfold to about £9.3 billion in 2007
...and various sources (e.g.) now put the estimate at close to £11bn. After more than a four-fold overspend, by the way, the government are still proudly claiming to be under budget.

It's not like you didn't know what you were in for. It's like going on a seaside holiday and complaining about shingle beaches.

How many of us had a say in the decision to bid, do you think? Go on, take a guess.
posted by metaBugs at 5:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


Inside the slum camp for Olympic cleaners (Daily Mail (yes I know; sorry))

Security staff don't show up for work, police have to replace them (BBC)

32-mile queue as first Games lane opens on M4 motorway (Daily Telegraph; yes yes, I know)
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:31 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


If any Olympics were going to collapse it would have happened in Beijing or Greece. There were plenty of warning signs.

So, sorry to piss on brighten your sad-parade, but these games will probably go off without a hitch.
posted by bardic at 5:34 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grimgrin writes "How the blistering fuck do you not hire enough people to work security when there's 8% unemployment for the past three years, and your contract specifies how many people you have to hire? It's mind boggling. Did no-one try, say, counting?"

Some of the army personnel being put forward are not passing the security checks to work at the Olympics they are that stringent.. So it is not just a case of getting whatever unemployed people are available. That said, it is still a monumental cock-up.
posted by Megami at 5:35 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absolutely. Part of the "complaint" is the sense that people here get of everyone who actually has to use this city as anything other than a theme-park or plaything being completely elbowed to one side. It feels like something more than just neglect or unconcern—actual contempt, maybe. My local overground station is going to be shut for the duration of the Games. So is the nearest DLR station. The bus lanes that would get me to North Greenwich are going to be commandeered for the Olympic "family," and the station itself is probably going to be unusable. So that's (1) Jubilee Line; (2) DLR; (3) bus all now to all intents and purposes off-limits to me because some more important people (tourists; the idle rich) want to use them. Er, how am I going to get to work? Or get anywhere?

It doesn't even seem like it's going to be much better for people going to the games. I just got some tickets for the volleyball or something at Earls Court as a present, and looking at the expected travel times and the recommended arrival times (you're supposed to get to the venue two hours before its 9:30 am start so you have time to get through security) I'll have to get a train into London an hour and a half earlier than the first bus leaves from my town (in Essex) to actually get me to the station. Which is helpful.
posted by dng at 5:35 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Olympics lanes will be closed to "non-emergency" ambulances.
posted by fight or flight at 5:38 AM on July 16, 2012


It's all very 'bread and circuses,' isn't it?
posted by subbes at 5:38 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except that the Ruling Classes have toasted all the bread to eat their caviar off of, and expect us not only to buy tickets but also muck out the elephants.
posted by Grangousier at 5:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Except they're not allowed to sell you any bread, and nobody can get to the circus.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [20 favorites]


You can have a sesame seed bun, though. And watch the much more important people speed past on their way to the circus.
posted by Grangousier at 5:42 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to The Tesco Shop today and a poster reminded me that shops are open late on Sundays during the Olympics, rather than being restricted to Sunday Trading hours which in England and Wales are roughly 11-5pm.

My SO is Scottish, where they do not have Sunday Trading regulations (on the grounds, apparently, that Scots were thought to be godly enough not to entertain the idea of purchasing goods and services on the Lord's Day). However, he is so pissed off by the Olympics that he's told me expressly he is avoiding the whole city until the last flag is taken down on Oxford Street.

It's like ray-ay-ain on your wedding day, innit?
posted by mippy at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


>You are crazy. It's clearly a zionist symbol.
We're through the rabbit hole people


From that linK: Is that a sly admission of a blatant connection to the Satanic symbol of the "all-seeing eye of Horus"...like the one on the back of the U.S. dollar bill

Ignoring for the moment the problems with a "satanic Eye of Horus" being a symbol of Zionism, can we just mark this down for "lack of originality? Someone needs to retake Conspiracy 101 and try just a bit harder.

As for the Olympics themselves or any sort of large sporting events -- how do they keep getting sold as an economic boost when no economy ever seems to get boosted by them?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:46 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except they're not allowed to sell you any bread, and nobody can get to the circus.

I read that in the choice from Pink Floyd's The Wall.

One thing to note: India almost stuffed up the last Commonwealth Games, and it looked like it was going to be a complete clusterfuck (and it may still be, what with corruption at all), but actual nuclear-level accidents of hilarity didn't really make the headlines during the events.

So it might all go swimmingly.
posted by Mezentian at 5:47 AM on July 16, 2012


how do they keep getting sold as an economic boost when no economy ever seems to get boosted by them?

B-b-b-but Athens 2000!
posted by Mezentian at 5:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shitshow that it is, I still hope it comes off without any sort of incident (I volunteered during the 96 games in Atlanta).
posted by jquinby at 5:48 AM on July 16, 2012


Wait, Athens was 2004.
My mistake.
Somehow I forgot Sydney.
posted by Mezentian at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2012


Speaking as a New Yorker who was subject to massive amounts of hype for that city's failed 2012 bid, it was abundantly clear to me that citizens have ZERO voice in the process.

Yeah, I remember that too, and remember being actively relieved when New York lost. I'm still a big rah-rah pollyanna Olympic idealist, but even so the idea of trying to hold an Olympics here just made me think "aw HELL no."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2012


My most recent injection of Olympics cynicism was walking through a mall littered with banners proclaiming Westfield as the "official mall" of the Olympics. They're not even pretending anymore, are they?

I was baffled that the DVLA - a government organization responsible for car registrations - is declaring itself the "Official Personalized Registrations" of the Olympics.
posted by rh at 5:50 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Where would they have put the Olympic Village? The only option I can think of involves leveling the actual Village.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:51 AM on July 16, 2012


Anyway. I want to get excited about the Olympics. I remember the Barcelona ones - the first ones I was old enough to watch - and how exciting it was even though I didn't care much for sport. I used to wonder what Linford Christie felt like knowing he was the fastest man in the whole world. I wanted to visit Barcelona to see what it looked like.

However, I'm finding it hard. I want to appreciate that the world is going to be coming to where I live, and that the cover girls on magazines are awesome strong women at the moment rather than reality stars or micro-sized models - it's nice to see, say, Cosmo, celebrating someone like Jessica Ennis or Victoria Pendelton, both attractive women like any girl they put on their cover, but someone I'd far rather my teenage daughter emulate than the likes of Geordie Shore/TOWIE and their diets of alcohol/'no carbs til Marbs'. I appreciate that the Paralympics are a time that the physically disabled can break out of the usual media image of people we should ignore and/or pity. I like the fact that my mum is going to put the TV on and enjoy it because she'll get to see places she's been to when she came to visit me.

But there's an awful lot of bullshit around the whole event for those who live here. I can't say too much about the sponsorship as it's tangentially related to my job, but the wealth of restrictions and stories about it bring home how corporate the whole deal is. Sure, there's no way we could afford it anyway without cutting single mother's benefits corporate money, but it reminds me of when I've seen sporting events from the US which, thanks to there being fewer restrictions on advertising in broadcast there, are sponsored down to the last blade of grass. And, the issues with transport that I'm going to find on the Central Line each day is one thing, but frankly, it's embarrassing that they want to make it a 'public transport games' but the city that is holding the Paralympics has major parts of its tube network that isn't even wheelchair accessible.
posted by mippy at 5:55 AM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Wait a second, aren't "bread and circuses" supposed to solve societal unrest? Somebody get me the Prime Minister on the line stat! I need to let him know that he's doing it wrong.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:56 AM on July 16, 2012


As for the money --- I mean, y'all have seen the last 20 or so Olympics, yes? They're always an orgy of corporate sponsorship, they're always super-expensive, they're always a bit of a boondoggle.

As an outsider to previous Olympics, I've only ever really noticed the commercial shilling in passing -- and only for the few short weeks of the Games themselves. So I admit I wasn't prepared for the years of bludgeoning we've received. I am unlucky enough to work for one of the tier one sponsors so I have been told on a daily basis since 2008 how excited I should be. I get side-glances from colleagues whenever I express anything short of hysterical glee at the prospect of an Olympics in my home town, as if I'm being ungrateful. I keep expecting Veronica Cartwright to swing into view, pointing at me and shrieking. Add this to the endless, insufferable months of Royalist frenzy that we've just pulled through with the Diamond Jubilee and I am just about ready to vomit bunting from my fucking eyes. So while yes, I can say I have seen the last 10 or so Olympics, I can say without shame that I hadn't really seen them.
posted by londonmark at 5:56 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


GenjiandProust - As for the Olympics themselves or any sort of large sporting events -- how do they keep getting sold as an economic boost when no economy ever seems to get boosted by them?

This episode [MP3] of the BBC's excellent More or Less has a short section on the Olympics, looking at the traditional claims that the Olympics make money, boosts tourism long-term and encourages people to take up sports. (Spoilers: Only if your infrastructure is pre-built, no, no). The section starts about 15 minutes into the episode, but the first half -- talking to the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee about the use of statistics and game theory in combating terrorism/organised crime -- is pretty good too, IMO.
posted by metaBugs at 5:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


Also, regarding the McDonald's thing, it's my homeland-loving duty as an Englisher to point out they don't sell chips.

I have no idea why this is - I feel the same inexplicable annoyance when someone refers to Thomas the Tank Engine as 'Thomas Tank', thank Christ I don't have children - but it drives me UP T'BLOODY TREE when someone refers to French Fries as 'chips'. THEY ARE NOT CHIPS. THEY ARE A STYLE OF CHIPS. THEY ARE A SEPARATE BRANCH ON THE 'POTATO BASED FOODS' TAXONOMY TREE
posted by mippy at 5:58 AM on July 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'm a grad student who pretty much makes his own schedule and I won't have to commute too far outside my little corner of South London for the duration of the Olympics, so my complaints about the inevitable upcoming transportation fiascos are more of an abstract thing.

What I really object to pretty vehemently, though, is the placement of surface-to-air missile sites in residential areas without consulting the actual residents. I live less than two miles away from the Blackheath site, and I'd very much prefer not to have burning plane parts and jet fuel raining down on my neighborhood if someone gets twitchy about a plane going to London City Airport that gets a little off-course, thank you very much.

They're not even necessary, even if you do grant the remote possibility of someone trying to drive a plane into the stadium--as mentioned above, four fighter planes and a destroyer are already going to be patrolling the airspace. This is just security theatre of the worst type.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


It doesn't even seem like it's going to be much better for people going to the games.

Likewise. For the rowing, if I'm to get there an hour before the start (which is cutting it fine) I have to leave at 4.45am, and take a nearly 3 hour trip, according to their website. I live in London!.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:59 AM on July 16, 2012


*Sigh*

And there are still idiots who want to bring the games to Amsterdam, when a much bigger city is struggling to hold them.

How the hell do they think we could even get a fraction of that 11 billion pounds budget?
posted by MartinWisse at 6:00 AM on July 16, 2012


The really upsetting thing is that at the heart of this despicable shitshow are a few thousand athletes who have worked for their entire lives to compete in these events, and in doing so demonstrate some of the best of what's possible athletically and physically.

I don't know. Athletes went down in my esteem as a cohort the day Paula Radcliffe took a shit in a London street rather than lose the victory that anyone with a scrap of regard for anyone else would have felt obliged to forgo.
posted by falcon at 6:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, I can't comment on the London games but I can comment on the Sydney games. I was a volunteer in Canberra where the preliminary football (soccer) games were played in 2000.

I lived in Manchester during the Commonwealth Games. Obviously that's a smaller event, but there was little disruption to residents (one athletes' residence was near my then-boyfriends' house) and they tried to get as many local people taking part as volunteers as they could, and the whole city felt like a great place to be in at the time. I don't get that feeling in London. It feels a bit like a sports day where we're all made to turn up in our uniforms and take part. In our knickers and vest if necessary.
posted by mippy at 6:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


What I really object to pretty vehemently, though, is the placement of surface-to-air missile sites in residential areas without consulting the actual residents. I live less than two miles away from the Blackheath site, and I'd very much prefer not to have burning plane parts and jet fuel raining down on my neighborhood

Yeah, the whole idea of having short range SAM missiles is that you can use them to let a hijacked plane crash anywhere but on the olympic site, into some slum area somewhere. It's not a protection at all.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:02 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I lived in Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. This all sounds so very familiar. Atlanta survived the games, and we even had a bombing. London will survive too.

The quarter final soccer match between Nigeria and Brazil, with Nigeria coming from behind to win, still ranks as the greatest live sporting event that I have ever seen.
posted by COD at 6:03 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a New Yorker who was subject to massive amounts of hype for that city's failed 2012 bid, it was abundantly clear to me that citizens have ZERO voice in the process. The Olympics is good for the local/national government because it's prestigious, brings in tourist money and new construction money (even if it's a boondoggle in the long run). The corporations love it because they get global exposure and get to set up their fiefdoms in the host city.


Speaking as a former Chicagoan, I can say that citizens can sway the process.

Chicagoans dodged that bullet by not only raising vocal opposition, but by sending support to another city's bid. (Citizens of Rio actually did support their city's bid for 2016.)

So, we don't want it. We don't get it.
They want it. They get it. Everyone wins.
posted by ocschwar at 6:05 AM on July 16, 2012


If you can watch them break down as they win their first bronze, silver or gold and not be even slightly moved, you have no heart.

Thus I have no heart. QED.
posted by Splunge at 6:11 AM on July 16, 2012


MartinWisse - didn't Helsinki host the Games once? That's a pretty small city as well.

The joke was that Manchester would never get it because athletics events required daylight.
posted by mippy at 6:13 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thus I have no heart. QED.


Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?
posted by ocschwar at 6:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


As I understand it, a lot of the people who get it worst from the Olympics are the very people who are already disenfranchised and who are thus 1. unable to articulate what is likely to go wrong and 2. unlikely to be believed. Ie, homeless and semi-homeless people who get "moved on" by the police both during construction and during the event, poor folks who suddenly have to pay more rent or move farther from their work/spend more time and money on transit, people of color/immigrants who are more likely to be targeted as "security risks", etc. And those are the people whose public spaces are more likely to get gutted - the parks and squares and fields they use have no rich people to defend them.

So all this business about "why didn't you protest then"? Well, ask yourself if you would have taken a bunch of homeless people and poor people seriously if they had protested. That would not be a characteristic middle class or elite response.

Also, this whole "we can't hire people for security because training blah blah"....okay, so the whole thing is basically security theater, right? So the issue is "we have created fake standards for security personnel to combat a [largely nonexistant] terrorist threat [that could probably be handled with fairly simple security precautions] and we can't train unemployed people to meet those fake precautions in time for the Games, so the state/the populace has to eat the cost of military personnel in addition to paying our contract."

The state is a machine for moving money. If you're lucky, it moves money from the elites to the regular folks, or at least doesn't make things worse. Since neoliberalism, the state is purely a machine for taking money from regular folks and handing it over to the elites - a machine for robbery.
posted by Frowner at 6:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [18 favorites]


If you can watch them break down as they win their first bronze, silver or gold and not be even slightly moved, you have no heart.

This reminds me of an authoritarian martinet of a teacher we had at school who once asserted that, if upon hearing your country's national anthem, you don't feel a stirring of national pride, there's something wrong with you.
posted by acb at 6:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


We're governed—for the first time in a century—by actual, honest-to-God aristocrats.

Maybe almost a half century. Douglas-Home (Eton, Oxford) was PM 1963-64 and known to his boyhood chums as Lord Dunglass. Eden (1955-57) was the son of baronet.
posted by biffa at 6:18 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, sorry to piss on brighten your sad-parade, but these games will probably go off without a hitch.

It's already got plenty of hitches, as the links demonstrate. But of course, the people the hitches are affecting most are the ones who don't really matter.

I was enormously relieved when San Francisco lost the bid to host whatever Olympics "we" we lobbying for (2016?).
posted by rtha at 6:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It helps if the anthem has been co-opted for other purposes (c.f. "God Save The Queen"/"My Country Tis Of Thee," "Land of Hope & Glory"/graduation music/Conservative Party anthem) so you can instead feel a stirring of confusion/anger/fear.
posted by subbes at 6:22 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


acb: This reminds me of an authoritarian martinet of a teacher we had at school who once asserted that, if upon hearing your country's national anthem, you don't feel a stirring of national pride, there's something wrong with you.

Well the Dutch do. Of course, the national pride is towards the Spanish King, to whom they proclaim allegiance in the anthem.
posted by falcon at 6:26 AM on July 16, 2012


Regarding the security measures, and specifically the sudden "shortage" of 4000-odd security guards requiring bringing in the army, current theory on that is G4S were going to use thousands of people on "workfare" (G4S being one of workfare's biggest beneficiaries), and then basically shit themselves over the media uproar at workfare usage during the jubilee celebrations.
posted by Len at 6:29 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well the Dutch do. Of course, the national pride is towards the Spanish King, to whom they proclaim allegiance in the anthem.


Because he sends Santa Claus to Holland every Christmas.
posted by ocschwar at 6:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of an authoritarian martinet of a teacher we had at school who once asserted that, if upon hearing your country's national anthem, you don't feel a stirring of national pride, there's something wrong with you.

Well, except one requires nationalism, the other relatively basic human empathy.
posted by fightorflight at 6:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


MartinWisse - didn't Helsinki host the Games once? That's a pretty small city as well.

Wasn't that the winter games? Slightly easier to organise in Finland than in Holland.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:31 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Olympic Games boiled down to their purest essence.
posted by Naberius at 6:31 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've never been a big Olympics fan, but it definitely feels like the corporateness of them has increased during my lifetime. (The upside is that the emphasis on replaying the Cold War faded after glasnost, I guess.) There just isn't much about it to get excited by at this point.
posted by Forktine at 6:32 AM on July 16, 2012


The joke was that Manchester would never get it because athletics events required daylight.
Sadly, the truth is that outside of London no English town has anywhere near the transport infrastructure to cope with the Olympics. Manchester--which most likely has the best--will see the Metrolink only this year reach the east end where much of the Commonwealth Games were held ten years ago. Further, there's no slack to put on the extra services needed: Mosley Street would become "Olympics Official Tram Queue", and Oxford Road hardly any better with buses.
posted by Jehan at 6:35 AM on July 16, 2012


Well the Dutch do. Of course, the national pride is towards the Spanish King, to whom they proclaim allegiance in the anthem.

Oldest national anthem in the world and it's basically a plea bargain of Willem the Silent explaining that, honest guv, he didn't intended to rebel against his rightful king and has always honoured them.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:37 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


MartinWisse - the 1952 Summer Olympics were in Helsinki, winning the bid against Amsterdam, among others. Helsinki actually won the bid already for the 1940 games, but they were cancelled due to some international disagreements.
posted by eemeli at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2012


This is happening in the context of the Tory/LibDem coalition slashing public services, inviting private companies to set up their own schools, increasing university fees, and doing their best to dismantle the NHS, which they have justified by constantly bombarding us with the message that things like libraries, education and healthcare are all luxuries that we can't currently afford. It's no wonder that people are a little twitchy about this.

That's a very good point. On the other hand though, the bid was launched and awarded during the boom; I suppose there might be a way to cancel the Olympics after having been awarded them 'cause the host country's broke, but I suspect there'd be some humiliating issues with that as well.

Frowner, while I'd agree that many of those likely to be worst affected by the Games aren't in position to effectively protest, I'd bet dollars to donuts that most of the people in this thread who hate them with such a passion aren't homeless. As you man from Chicago noted, there have been protests against the games and it seems unlikely to me that Jose et al would have given them to London if there were a couple thousand people staked out under his hotel room screaming their heads off about how they didn't want them back in the day. On the other hand, as people have noted, a lot of the things that have pissed people off the most weren't at all clear before they got going, and perhaps many people didn't get their snit going on full thrusters until they heard about the special car lanes or whatnot.

Upon reflection, really, the bottom line is I don't love there and am not directly affected, so the best thing for me to is cram it, really. And I shall. I hope it's not as awful as you think it will be, and that Roddick wins a gold, plus maybe the football, if it helps y'all feel better about it.
posted by Diablevert at 6:39 AM on July 16, 2012


Regarding the security measures, and specifically the sudden "shortage" of 4000-odd security guards requiring bringing in the army, current theory on that is G4S were going to use thousands of people on "workfare" (G4S being one of workfare's biggest beneficiaries), and then basically shit themselves over the media uproar at workfare usage during the jubilee celebrations.

That does make an awful lot of sense. There's clearly something going on behind the scenes what with the government's insistence on not throwing 'honourable' G4S to the dogs
posted by brilliantmistake at 6:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe almost a half century. Douglas-Home (Eton, Oxford) was PM 1963-64 and known to his boyhood chums as Lord Dunglass. Eden (1955-57) was the son of baronet.
Not forgetting that Winston Churchill was the son of the Viceroy of Ireland, a descendant of the Duke of Marlborough, the Marquess of Londonderry [sic], the Earl of Galloway, the Countess of Antrim, and the Baronet of Wynyard. Plus, he was born in Blenheim Palace and attended Harrow. Makes George Osborne and David Cameron look positively ill-bred.
posted by Jehan at 6:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


OK. Good points. I spend so much of my time these days telling people we're basically reliving the 1912–14 period and OMG! Look out! The Guns of August! that I sometimes get a little carried away.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


That does make an awful lot of sense. There's clearly something going on behind the scenes what with the government's insistence on not throwing 'honourable' G4S to the dogs

Also, know who owns shares in G4S? Why, Theresa May of course.
posted by fightorflight at 6:54 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


it seems unlikely to me that Jose et al would have given them to London if there were a couple thousand people staked out under his hotel room screaming their heads off about how they didn't want them back in the day.

That's the problem. The campaign to get London the olympics ran in 2004/05 (actually awarded on 6/7, one day before the 7/7 bombings, so yeah), long before the recession, when the city still had a competent mayor and even then the majority of people were apathic rather than enthusiastic about it. In the meantime however we've seen a change of government and mayor, the further rise of the national security state and terrorist paranoia and an even more cynical approach to sponsoring than we thought even Labour was capable off.

Shorter me: it's been sold as something completely different from what it ended up being.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Olympics organisers have warned businesses that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including "gold", "silver" and "bronze", "summer", "sponsors" and "London".

Publicans have been advised that blackboards advertising live TV coverage must not refer to beer brands or brewers without an Olympics deal, while caterers and restaurateurs have been told not to advertise dishes that could be construed as having an association with the event.

At the 40 Olympics venues, 800 retailers have been banned from serving chips to avoid infringing fast-food rights secured by McDonald's.


I surmise that this has been linked somewhere above, but the story of the branding police seems so dystopian to me that I wanted to quote it.

There's something here about the "work" of consumption that I can't quite articulate - that a lot of the "labor" of being poor is this kind of almost forced consumption. (For which poor folks are then blamed - on the one hand, the state forces McDonald's ads down our throats, on the other, poor folks are supposed to be ashamed that they're making themselves obeeeeeeeeese by eating at McDonald's. It's like the proletarian body is just this state resource as surely as if it were in a tank hooked up to tubes.
posted by Frowner at 6:59 AM on July 16, 2012 [24 favorites]


Also, know who owns shares in G4S? Why, Theresa May of course.
Has anyone confirmed this? Or is still the indirect Teresa May → Prudential shareholder → Prudential majority stakeholder in G4S line of connection? Which is still dodgy, but isn't perhaps outright corrupt. Yet.
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2012


is it still ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2012


OK. Good points. I spend so much of my time these days telling people we're basically reliving the 1912–14 period and OMG! Look out! The Guns of August! that I sometimes get a little carried away.
Well, for a while we really did have some measure of equality in government. Even in the Conservative party: Heath, Thatcher and Major all came from pretty ordinary backgrounds. RIP 1964-2010.

posted by Jehan at 7:07 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Frowner: From your appalling link: "These rights are acquired by companies who invest millions of pounds to help support the staging of the Games," Locog said. "People who seek the same benefits for free – by engaging in ambush marketing or producing counterfeit goods – are effectively depriving the Games of revenue."

This more or less nails it. The premise upon which this monstrosity was foisted on us was that it would stimulate the economy. Yet here are local businesses, employing local people, being fined for selling their stuff, so that corporations with offshore tax centres can monopolise.

These bastards bought monopoly distribution rights for less than 10% of the total costs, and got the public sector to police those rights for them.
posted by falcon at 7:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


Well, looking on the bright side, if this is a total cock up it might permanently end Blair's effort to slither back into running Labour on the back of this being his awesome idea.

Just kidding. That man is like Dracule. He's never going away.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:17 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


ocschwar: "(Citizens of Rio actually did support their city's bid for 2016.)"
Especially the 20% of Rio's inhabitants living in poverty-stricken ramshackle shantytowns, I suppose. Ain't they gonna love it?

Favelas Moved for World Cup and Olympics:
One of the major critiques of urbanization projects is the relocation of residents to the suburbs, further from where many work. Williamson explains, “The Municipal Law (Lei Orgânica) requires that all relocations take place within a 7 kilometers area. But across Rio we’re seeing the Olympics used as an excuse to disobey well-researched and important local legislation.”

Shetty reemphasizes the problem, reporting that “these people have ended up with houses located 50 kilometers from where they make a living, or with negligible compensation.”
(Love the comments on the article as well.)

Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas : The Cost of the 2016 Olympic Games:
Raquel Rolnik, Special Rapporteur of the UN on adequate housing, interviewed by Mundo Real, notes that the profits from mega-events do not benefit the whole population and that the government is risking itself in creating a “state of exception” where human rights [to housing] are compromised for these games, as “in a state of emergency due to war or catastrophe”.
posted by brokkr at 7:23 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Speaking as a New Yorker who was subject to massive amounts of hype for that city's failed 2012 bid, it was abundantly clear to me that citizens have ZERO voice in the process.

Yeah, I remember that too, and remember being actively relieved when New York lost. I'm still a big rah-rah pollyanna Olympic idealist, but even so the idea of trying to hold an Olympics here just made me think "aw HELL no."


You guys heard that we're trying again, right?
posted by corb at 7:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


No. the commute really isn't the main complaint. This is a country that faces a £4 trillion deficit in its pension and old age medical obligations...

But every city that's held the Olympics, hell, every place in the world has these sorts of issues, and that hasn't prevented the Olympics from being held. Every country has debt and poverty issues, and every country has lost money through incompetence and corruption. So, it isn't really the Games that should be blamed, as they're only a symptom and not the cause.

I mean, y'all have seen the last 20 or so Olympics, yes? They're always an orgy of corporate sponsorship, they're always super-expensive, they're always a bit of a boondoggle.

Actually, there was a time when the Olympics were profitable. Los Angeles in 1984 had a financially successful Olympics, mostly because of minimizing building new venues and allowing, yes, more corporate sponsorship. Maybe it would be a good thing if London proved itself to be such a HUGE disaster like Montreal in '76 that whoever comes next decides to do the Games on the cheap like LA?
posted by FJT at 7:38 AM on July 16, 2012


I've already told my little Olympics-related troubles here on the Blue, so I'm not going to repeat them.

Waterstones on Oxford Street had a brilliant tweet: "So, as we can't say the name of the big sporting event because we're not a sponsor, we shall call it Voldesport. That which cannot be named!"

That's brilliant! Going to use it from now on.

One thing to note: India almost stuffed up the last Commonwealth Games, and it looked like it was going to be a complete clusterfuck (and it may still be, what with corruption at all), but actual nuclear-level accidents of hilarity didn't really make the headlines during the events.

While there was some exuberant, shall we say, over reporting, quite a lot of which seemed like schadenfreude, the fact is we had demonstrated absolute and complete incompetence in project management. To wit,

The initial total budget estimated by the Indian Olympic Association in 2003 for hosting the Games was ₹1,620 crore (US$323.19 million). In 2010, however, the official total budget soon escalated to an estimated ₹11,500 crore (US$2.29 billion), a figure which excluded non-sports-related infrastructure development.[20] Business Today magazine estimated that the Games cost ₹60,000 crore (US$11.97 billion).[21]

A project going 20% over budget could be due to corruption. A 709% increase in costs is a rank inability to budget things properly, a rank display of naiveity masquerading as braggadocio.
posted by the cydonian at 7:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


What this thread has me wondering is, will this hyper-commercialization of the games give rise to an alternative kind of international games? Kind of like a Sundance or a Lollapalooza analog, that tries to preserve the spirit of the games and international goodwill...?

Well, it's not as broad-pitched as the Aforementioned Competition, but the Gay Games (which notably is one of the many sporting events sued by the IOC for originally attempting to use the O-word) tries to conform to that spirit. Although, as these things sometimes go, there was a difference of opinion a decade back and now we also have the World Outgames.
posted by psoas at 7:41 AM on July 16, 2012


There's clearly something going on behind the scenes what with the government's insistence on not throwing 'honourable' G4S to the dogs

I live about a mile to the east of the Olympic park and cycle past it every day; military personnel have been stationed on the main back entrance for at least two weeks now and certainly more than a week before the Government announced that G4S would be unable to supply the required amount of staff.

That, together with the ground-to-air missiles stationed on tower blocks over-looking where I run and the high-viz jacketed automatons pulling cars over at a check point last week, even though the games lanes are not yet in place, and the two early morning armed police raids on domestic houses in Leyton I witnessed last week, are leaving me, a local resident, feeling decidedly unloved.
posted by fatfrank at 7:45 AM on July 16, 2012


Also the Eurogames. The games vary in size from year to year, and could really do with more coverage. A number of world records have been broken at the various gay games, and they are generally marked as being a really nice event.
posted by Iteki at 7:49 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: Where [in New York] would they have put the Olympic Village? The only option I can think of involves leveling the actual Village.

Wikipedia reports:
The Village was going to be located at the East River Waterfront of Queens across the United Nations Headquarters. During the Olympics and Paralympics, it would have housed more than 16,000 athletes and coaches. Costing an estimate of $1.5 billion, the Village would include plazas and shoppes, restaurants, acres of green landscape, training centers and fields, a private dining hall, religious centers, and ferry and train service. Post-Olympic plans would provide world-class residential housing for up to 18,000 New York residents. The area would have designed by Morphosis Architects as the heart and crossroad of New York's Olympic X Plan.
posted by ThisIsNotMe at 7:51 AM on July 16, 2012


Speaking as a former Chicagoan, I can say that citizens can sway the process.

In Toronto the 'Bread Not Circuses' coalition was helpful in scuttling 2 olympic bids the city made, for the 1996 and 2004 games.
posted by zarah at 7:53 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


From Corb's link:

However, New York’s 2024 bid could be stronger given that it has new stadiums and arenas in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.

OH HELL NO THAT BROOKLYN STADIUM IS 10 BLOCKS FROM MY APARTMENT ARE YOU SHITTING ME THEY'D BETTER NOT
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, except one requires nationalism, the other relatively basic human empathy.

You don't feel what I feel, therefore you're a sociopath. On the internet, everyone's a shitty psychologist.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:03 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Attempting to stage the Olympics in NYC would no doubt lead to come sucession level event and we can finally get the people's republic of Manahatta off the ground.
posted by The Whelk at 8:04 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


And there are still idiots who want to bring the games to Amsterdam, when a much bigger city is struggling to hold them.

You'd do well to join the traffic jam already.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:05 AM on July 16, 2012


I don't know what you're complaining about- I think this year's games are going to be fantastic! The tributes from Districts 2 and 3 are really in top form, but I think District 8 is really going to surprise everyone! Plus, I've heard rumors that the arena is going to be unlike anything we've ever seen before! I'm buying a new wig and everything!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:06 AM on July 16, 2012 [28 favorites]


Here's a Brit who was moaning about the London Olympics even before the Beijing Olympics had ended.
posted by horsewithnoname at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jehan: Northerners from Birmingham upward are less likely to care about the Olympics than southerners, despite not being barely touched by all the stupidity is has brought.

So in China they had events spread across the entire continent, here they've ignored world-class sites - mountain biking and canoeing are ones I know of - in the North and built temporary alternatives in the London area instead.
Living in the North as I do I frankly feel excluded from the whole thing. Is disenfranchised the right word?
posted by lith at 8:12 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't feel what I feel, therefore you're a sociopath. On the internet, everyone's a shitty psychologist.

On the internet everyone's butthurt, more like. Maybe I can rephrase to get off your lawns. I, a cynical sport-hater, nonetheless was surprised to find a lot of the Olympics surprisingly affecting. So much so that I find it hard to believe that anyone else similary watching (ie not just imaging it from their tower of snark) would not also be somewhat affected.

I will allow that they still have hearts, just as that time I said there wouldn't be a dry eye in the house I did not provision handkerchiefs for every single seat.
posted by fightorflight at 8:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live over 100 miles from the Olympic Park. Down in the West Country. And a mile or so from the route from London to Weymouth, where the Sailing is taking place.

And since there's clearly going to be a constant logjam of people just aching to come down and watch that, they're closing the main road into the nearest town for three weeks, because it crosses the Olympic route.

Here's the brilliant bit: because no-one will be able to use the direct route into town (which is also to the nearest big conurbation where most people work), we all have to use a different, much longer route. Which is also the Olympic route.

That's right. They're shutting one road, which isn't the Olympic route, so as not to disrupt the Olympic route, and re-directing us all onto the fucking Olympic route. Which we won't be able to use half the time as it'll be full of the armed guard-toting gold-plated fuck-you-peasants coaches they're providing for all the sponsors.

I don't think I can articulate just wildly, shakingly, spit-frothingly angry this disgusting corporate fuck-over of an event is making people. Lots of people. Not just in London. Everywhere in the UK.

We love the sport, but this isn't what it should be about. None of it.

I sort of blocked out the Occupy anger because if I'm honest, my mortage gets paid with the income I get from working for some of the names that have been appearing in the news (and from some of the Olympic sponsors, actually. Wow. I'm some sort of one-man axis of evil). So I just got on with it and didn't really think about it too much.

But this Olympics has finally done it for me. Fuck you, corporations, and fuck you the politicians from all sides that are willing to suck up to them. I never thought that a sporting event would get me thinking afresh about how I should live my life but bloody hell, I'm frantically trying to work out a new way to earn a living that's more human, more compassionate and puts wellbeing ahead of shareholders because if this is where where that takes us, I genuinely, honestly, passionately don't want to be part of that system any more.
posted by dowcrag at 8:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [54 favorites]


Living in the North as I do I frankly feel excluded from the whole thing. Is disenfranchised the right word?

Disenfranchised is exactly the right word, this is a jolly for the elites and they don't travel out to the regions. In Brum we did get Cliff Richard carrying the flame which is probably all the culture we're qualified to handle for the next decade or so.
posted by brilliantmistake at 8:21 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


As others have said: we ordinary Londoners did not want this bullshit. When the bidding for it was going on I was living in NYC but aware that I'd almost certainly be back in London by 2012, and I really, really did not want the bid to go either to New York or to London. I wish I could be out of the country during the whole sorry shitfest but not only will I be there, I'll be driving doubtless horribly overstuffed trains and receiving plenty of abuse from rightfully frustrated passengers.

As for the outrageous crap about only being allowed to link to the official site if you're saying something favourable? I believe we need a campaign of mass disobedience about that. Impertinent fuckers.
posted by Decani at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can they actually enforce, that, though? It's bullshit, isn't it?
posted by Grangousier at 8:25 AM on July 16, 2012


You mean we can't say douchebag?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Northerners from Birmingham upward are less likely to care about the Olympics than southerners, despite not being barely touched by all the stupidity is has brought.

Huzzah, and all that rot! (Sun link, sorry)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:34 AM on July 16, 2012


If London is such a shitshow, I can't fathom what Sochi is going to be like in 18 months' time.

IIRC, Sochi is even more south than Vancouver, so there are going to be a lot of days that will be too warm to ski. Still kinda puzzled about that one.

What this thread has me wondering is, will this hyper-commercialization of the games give rise to an alternative kind of international games? Kind of like a Sundance or a Lollapalooza analog, that tries to preserve the spirit of the games and international goodwill that's been lost on the official games (before it itself gets just as co-opted a la Sundance and Lollapalooza, anyhow)?

They keep trying, hoping one will stick. Their latest attempt was the X Games, which didn't go over so well.
posted by Melismata at 8:38 AM on July 16, 2012


athletes who don't get any money for it,

Except for the few who get millions and millions of endorsement dollars, you mean?
posted by spitbull at 8:40 AM on July 16, 2012


Dear Olympic Committee,
Please consider Toledo, Ohio, USA for the next host for the Olympics.

What do we have to offer?
We have plenty of abandoned buildings to house athletes and their attendants in. We have lots of local empty space, abandoned arenas and stadiums for holding games in, and if we had to we could probably build a thing or two for the bigger events. Nothing fancy, but perfectly suitable for holding amateur sporting events in. The seating will all basically be bleachers and benches, no boxes for the ultra-rich, but who needs that - there's plenty of Toby Packo's to go around. What could go better with drassage than fried pickles and a cup of Yuengling?

So in short, come to Toledo. We'll give you the bare minimum to do your thing while go about our daily lives. The athletes can play their games, and that's what is most important right?
posted by charred husk at 8:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [18 favorites]


I really, really did not want the bid to go either to New York or to London.

Tell me about it. As a New Yorker (who once lived in London, my sympathies to y'all) I was thrilled when NYC lost its bid. Bloomberg's Folly, I called it then.

Although he's had a few other follies since.
posted by spitbull at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also just realized that the exact spot where London won the Olympics bid in 2005 is some 25 floors below where I attended a meeting only two hours back. Which is entirely inconsequential for everyone; just my little Forrest Gump delusion here.
posted by the cydonian at 8:44 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


We also can't spell Tony Packo's or put words like "our" where they need to be.
posted by charred husk at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan: Looking at the legal info page on there I can't see anything saying it, much to my surprise. Is it stated somewhere else?
posted by lith at 8:45 AM on July 16, 2012


Athletes went down in my esteem as a cohort the day Paula Radcliffe took a shit in a London street rather than lose the victory that anyone with a scrap of regard for anyone else would have felt obliged to forgo.

Sorry, but athletes shitting during intense competition isn't even rare, due to the exigencies of extreme exertion and excitement. What's rare is when they get enough advance notice that It's Coming! to at least be able to pull their shorts aside and squat over the gutter. I'll cite if needed, but not right now; I'm on the phone.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, as an individual citizen, what's the best thing one can do to torpedo an Olympic bid if one's city is insane enough to be courting such a thing?
posted by straight at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe Burhanistan may have linked to the wrong site, I think these are the douchebags in question.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:48 AM on July 16, 2012


I can't think of any city in recent for which the Olympics have actually been good. It's become increasingly obvious that the modern Olympics are mostly an orgy of corporate greed and public-to-private wealth transfer, wrapped around a tiny kernel of athletics encased in a thick candy shell of jingoism.

The only people who seem consistently supportive are diehard nationalists, idle-rich aristocrats, and corporations who stand to profit from the reliable pillaging of the public purse that necessarily accompanies every recent Olympics. That these groups seem to be able to consistently get major cities in (putatively) democratic countries to invite the vampire-squid IOC in, with sweeter and sweeter deals each time, is a pretty grim example of the failure of representative government.

The whole thing is really nothing but a giant TV show anyway; if we really cared about the sport aspect, we should just spread the different events around the world, ensuring that each one is done in an actual world-class facility. The venues could be selected on their merits, rather than on the ability of a particular city's aristo/technocracy to get the citizenry to grab their ankles for a few years.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:49 AM on July 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can they actually enforce, that, though? It's bullshit, isn't it?

Yeah, it's bullshit, but often tried by out of touch autocratic organisations like the IOC: the last two high profile "linking policy" cases I heard off were UEFA during the Euros 2006 and more recently, the Belgian state railways. Unfortunately for those, most national and European laws just rejects this sort of thing out of hand.

You don't need permission to link to anybody.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:50 AM on July 16, 2012


The "spread the events around the world" idea is intriguing. But then how would all the athletes have sex with one another?
posted by papercake at 8:52 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


So in short, come to Toledo.

posted by charred husk at 10:45 AM on July 16


Eponysterical.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:53 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, yes - Thou shalt not call us names
posted by lith at 8:57 AM on July 16, 2012


TheWhiteSkull:
"posted by charred husk at 10:45 AM on July 16
Eponysterical."
No kidding. I thought I had dodged a bullet being in England while we had that string of 100 degree days, but nope. Still over 90 here in the Black Swamp.
posted by charred husk at 8:57 AM on July 16, 2012


Thank god Chicago lost out on their bid. Really, screw this shit, it's getting way out of hand.
posted by zzazazz at 9:03 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I admire the athletes as a group, but the IOC and all its minions can be fed to the Elder Gods for all I care.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately for those, most national and European laws just rejects this sort of thing out of hand.

Doesn't the Olympics have exemptions from EU human-rights laws because it's, well, the Olympics and yay!
posted by acb at 9:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't think of any city in recent for which the Olympics have actually been good.

I believe Barcelona is the only success story, and that's 20 years ago now.
posted by jedicus at 9:16 AM on July 16, 2012


5. Linking policy

a. Links to the Site. You may create your own link to the Site, provided that your link is in a text-only format. You may not use any link to the Site as a method of creating an unauthorised association between an organisation, business, goods or services and London 2012, and agree that no such link shall portray us or any other official London 2012 organisations (or our or their activities, products or services) in a false, misleading, derogatory or otherwise objectionable manner. The use of our logo or any other Olympic or London 2012 Mark(s) as a link to the Site is not permitted. View our guidelines on Use of the Games' Marks.
LOCOG are a bunch of Jeremies.
posted by Jehan at 9:20 AM on July 16, 2012


Fuck the Olympics.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on July 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sorry, but athletes shitting during intense competition isn't even rare, due to the exigencies of extreme exertion and excitement.

True.

posted by lord_wolf at 9:34 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


As an Atlantan, y'all have my sympathy. 1996 was the worst thing to happen here since Sherman burned it down.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:40 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Allegedly McDonalds has given up the tax break. So far nowhere I can link to, it was in an email.
posted by lith at 9:47 AM on July 16, 2012


They say they are going to not claim it on their website.
posted by Gilgongo at 9:54 AM on July 16, 2012


Amusingly, the Guardian covered Lisa Simpson Giving a Blow Job and Iran claims she's Zionist.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:11 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll just add two things...

There's an official make-up that supposedly all female athletes have to wear on the podium.

I'm hoping the rain is so bad no-one will ever let us have a sporting event again.
posted by Auz at 10:12 AM on July 16, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm hoping the rain is so bad no-one will ever let us have a sporting event again.
This. Oh, except Test cricket, obviously. For which torrential downpours are an integral part of the game.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:15 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Olympics: chaos hits London as first athletes arrive for Games: difficult day on roads and rail as countdown to Olympics starts. Traffic crawled into London today as the opening of the first Olympic Games lane coincided with an accident on the M4 and a suicide on one of the country's key railway lines to create the 'perfect storm' of travel chaos.

Police from nine forces drafted in to fill Olympic security gaps left by G4S -In Manchester police had to step in after only 17 of an expected 56 G4S staff turned up at an Olympic team hotel
posted by Megami at 10:17 AM on July 16, 2012


There's an official make-up that supposedly all female athletes have to wear on the podium.

Okay, now we're beyond Alien and into the familiar world of James Cameron one-liners. Nuke. It. From. Orbit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:18 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Just think, the 2012 equivalent of the 1968 black power salute could involve non-approved mascara. It would be nice if one protesting athlete went up there in KISS make-up.
posted by Grangousier at 10:24 AM on July 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


From ericb's link above:
Tickets to the opening ceremony are priced in the thousands, and many hotels are doubling room rates in late July and early August. So Plexico, like many other New Englanders, is content to watch the international sporting event on television. NBC, which will carry the Summer Olympics, expects 200 million Americans to tune in over 17 days starting July 2.
So... would any NBC watchers like to let us know how the games went?
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know where I can find Andy Zaltzman doing Olympics commentary? That's really all I want from these games.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is a theory that sufficiently poor cities actually make money off the Olympics.

Imho, Kinshasa, Congo or Mogadishu, Somalia should be given their chance to host the Olympics. We could set the IOC up there for an extended period so they can advise the locals on hosting the games!

We could maybe do Havana one year if you want a slightly more well-to-do host country one year.

I'll confess that I cheered when London won the Olympics because I like Paris and NYC.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Auz's link: "As you would expect, the Sports Chic beauty look begins with a natural, healthy glow created using Max Factor’s Lasting Performance Foundation..."

Strangely enough, those were not my thoughts at all when I thought of natural and healthy. In fact, usually when I think of natural and healthy foundation does not make an appearance at all. What a fool I've been all of these years!

I cannot wait for the day when all female athletes - not just the synchronised swimmers - have to wear make-up during every event. Because even if you're not good-looking, there's no reason to let down the games by not trying.

Jesus.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


There is a theory that sufficiently poor cities actually make money off the Olympics.

Imho, Kinshasa, Congo or Mogadishu, Somalia should be given their chance to host the Olympics. We could set the IOC up there for an extended period so they can advise the locals on hosting the games!


Even better: Pyongyang. They already have a totalitarian system in place, and won't need to pass enabling legislation to implement one piece by piece. And think of the exquisitely choreographed opening ceremony!
posted by acb at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


Oh, and MeFi's own cstross linked to some 1-star Amazon reviews of the Orwellian Wenlock Copper toy-thing.
I bought this toy to take on my Olympic Journey as suggested by the technical details. Imagine my surprise when I woke up the next morning to find that it had left its case, called in reinforcements and kettled me in my bed.
posted by Auz at 10:33 AM on July 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's not really clear to me that the makeup has to be worn by the *athletes*. The official website just mentions the "escorts" for the athletes and the presenters, not the athletes themselves.
posted by R343L at 10:35 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not really clear to me that the makeup has to be worn by the *athletes*. The official website just mentions the "escorts" for the athletes and the presenters, not the athletes themselves.

It's still pretty terrible. The bodies of the female escorts and presenters are being made into canvases for a cosmetics advertisement.

But beyond the sexism issues, that's just a really absurd level of corporate control. What's next, all Olympics employees (below management level, of course) must only eat food from official sponsors?
posted by jedicus at 10:47 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


There's an official make-up that supposedly all female athletes have to wear on the podium.

That's a misreading of a poorly worded sentence: it's to be worn by all athlete escorts and presenter escorts. The article even says the makeup was designed to match the purple uniforms designed by fashion students, and I'm pretty certain female athletes are not forced to do a quick change into a purple dress and slap before ascending the podium.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:51 AM on July 16, 2012


1) John Lewis is the official department store. Exactly what now? Why? "Hold on a sec, before I get down to this running business, I must dash to the haberdashery and get myself some nice trimmings."

2) For the last few months the National Blood Service has been running radio adverts saying that blood stocks always run low during major events and that we should remember to "give blood during this summer's sporting events". This was fine in the run up to Euro 2012 and Wimbledon, now that they've passed the advert says "give blood during this summer's sporting event". Which just sounds clunky and wrong. Voldesport taken to extreme pointlessness.

3) I got the bus along the edge of the Olympic Park the other day and it felt like you were driving alongside a prison or army camp or something. It certainly had no relation to the communities of Stratford and Leyton who butt up against the fence.
posted by Helga-woo at 10:53 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


1) John Lewis is the official department store. Exactly what now? Why? "Hold on a sec, before I get down to this running business, I must dash to the haberdashery and get myself some nice trimmings."
In others news, the Olympics new slogan is revealed to be "Always Knowingly Oversold".
posted by Jehan at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a result, one central London road simply disappears as it turns into two lanes of which drivers can use neither.

They put 'Zil lanes' on the M4?

That's gotta be pissing some commuters right off.
posted by madajb at 11:02 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's still pretty terrible. The bodies of the female escorts and presenters are being made into canvases for a cosmetics advertisement.

Eh, of all the product placement BS that goes on, this seems pretty minor. Most women applying for this job are going to be expecting to be dressed and made up to a standard. Makeup is a normal part of many dress codes, as horrible as that is. If I were a presenter I would be fine wearing makeup provided by a makeup company- saves having to buy and use my own for some one-off job. It's not like anyone watching will know it's MaxFactor from their faces.

What's more appalling is the terrible collar-less suits for the men. Then again, the American athletes' uniforms by Ralph Lauren are possibly worse.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:03 AM on July 16, 2012


Most women applying for this job are going to be expecting to be dressed and made up to a standard. Makeup is a normal part of many dress codes, as horrible as that is.

Makeup, yes, but a very specific style using only cosmetics from a specific company?
posted by jedicus at 11:06 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


There's an official make-up that supposedly all female athletes have to wear on the podium.

“I wanted it to encompass everything the Games are about,” said Caroline. “So [the Sports Chic look] represents wellbeing; it’s natural and fresh and will give each of the wearers a lovely healthy glow.”

Because, of course, a lifetime devoted to exercise and competitive sport isn't quite enough to do that.

But - it certainly encompasses everything the Games are about.
posted by falcon at 11:14 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


> What's more appalling is the terrible collar-less suits for the men. Then again, the American athletes' uniforms by Ralph Lauren are possibly worse.

I don't which is worse, the taste in the design, or the fact that they didn't think it might be a LITTLE UPSETTING that they were made in China.

I guess it could be worse, they could have been made by American Apparel instead.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:19 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I predict that in less than a decade's time the Olympics will mostly be an excuse for squads of armed goons to drive around the host city in Humvees, occasionally pulling over to brutally and grievously wound any civilians caught using a voluntary muscle group without a corporate sponsor's name tattooed on their forehead.

The US will be neck and neck with China for the gold in Armed Gooning, with Russia certain to pick up the bronze.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:35 AM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Armed Gooning is a total showboat event. I prefer Synchronized Tactical Crowd Control- you really get a sense of the teamwork at play, and the formations are stunning.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:41 AM on July 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I mean literally stunning, since they permitted the use of stun batons, back in '96.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:43 AM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hah. Now I have a subject for my next short story.
posted by Blue Meanie at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2012


NBC, which will carry the Summer Olympics, expects 200 million Americans to tune in over 17 days starting July 2. ... So... would any NBC watchers like to let us know how the games went?

NBC's live and rebroadcast schedule actually started on June 28 with on-going coverage on their various networks of the qualifying trials of athletes competing in various events to get on their respective U.S. Olympic roster.

I watched the men's/women's swimming, diving and gymnastics programming.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on July 16, 2012


Lists of qualifying athletes and their sports for Team USA.
posted by ericb at 12:00 PM on July 16, 2012


Olympics hurdle: US athletes' bus driver gets lost in London.

Tweets from Kerron Clement, US 400m hurdler and Beijing silver medallist:
"Um, so we've been lost on the road for 4hrs. Not a good first impression London."

"Athletes are sleepy, hungry and need to pee. Could we get to the Olympic Village please."
posted by ericb at 12:08 PM on July 16, 2012


Australian team bus also lost in transport farce.
posted by ericb at 12:08 PM on July 16, 2012


Twenty Twelve's second episode, where an Olympic bus is delayed en route to the Olympic Park.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on July 16, 2012


Best of luck, London. The Olympics used to mean something, to me and people I know. It represented something special about amateur athletes making the cut and getting their chances to compete on the world stage, fulfilling childhood dreams or vowing to try again in 4 more years.

But starting (for me, as an Atlantan) with the 1996 games, it has looked increasingly like some sort of corporate dystopia in which I wouldn't be surprised to see the athletes tagged with chips like pet poodles, announcing which corporate body owns their human body. It's an awful mockery of what the Olympic Games once were.
posted by notashroom at 12:34 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Olympic torch can fuck right off. Yeah, let's close a bunch of city centre roads in the middle of rush-hour. THANKS ANCIENT GREECE.

I guess the idea is to give us non-Londoners a taste of the (horrific traffic problems during the) games.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:38 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


and once again roller sports are shut out of the Olympics in favor of golf and rugby (I have no problem with rugby, bearded dudes in short-shorts are okay with me.)

My daughter was required to watch the Vancouver Olympic opening ceremony for school two years ago. She went to a friend's to watch it at 7pm. From 7pm to 9pm when they actually began broadcasting the ceremony, NBC over and over again showed Nodar Kumaritashvili's fatal crash. Does NBC not realize that kids (who love sports and pageantry and have bedtimes on school nights) were going to be watching that? Fuck you NBC.
posted by vespabelle at 12:56 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most women applying for this job are going to be expecting to be dressed and made up to a standard. Makeup is a normal part of many dress codes, as horrible as that is.

Makeup, yes, but a very specific style using only cosmetics from a specific company?


Specific styles are usually what makeup guidelines by companies are all about, so I don't see why that's an issue. Having a little drawing of where to put what isn't really going to inform much of how people apply it to their own face- there aren't many options with three shades of brown eye shadow. If there is going to be a makeup code of any sort, specific makeup supplied by a specific company would make everything that much easier, especially since you would never have to wear it again after two weeks. Being given a bag of facepaint and being told "wear this" sounds like a much easier prospect than trying to determine if your regular kit is going to fall within guidelines, and having to shop for stuff you don't normally wear.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:02 PM on July 16, 2012



Eh, of all the product placement BS that goes on, this seems pretty minor. Most women applying for this job are going to be expecting to be dressed and made up to a standard. Makeup is a normal part of many dress codes, as horrible as that is. If I were a presenter I would be fine wearing makeup provided by a makeup company- saves having to buy and use my own for some one-off job. It's not like anyone watching will know it's MaxFactor from their faces.


It's stupid and awful because it submits the human element - the ordinary variety in human choices and desires, bodies and faces, to a uniform and commercial treatment for no reason other than a sort of aesthetics of advertisement. It is as creepy as a North Korean choreographed march, even if we are so used to it that we don't find it weird, because it is...well, it's kind of aesthetics as fascism. No one particularly likes this stuff, it's not important, it's not part of some democratic pageantry - it's just being required so that the advertisers can have total control over every detail.
posted by Frowner at 1:04 PM on July 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm "official reviler" of the oh-limp-ick games.
posted by telstar at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2012


London Is Officially a Militarized No-Fly Zone
posted by homunculus at 1:25 PM on July 16, 2012


"The Aviationist reports that as of this weekend, the usual civilian control of London's skies is (temporarily) over, and the Royal Air Force is in charge."

I assume that U.S. and NATO armed forces are also providing support to the RAF, such as AWACs, aerial refueling, satellite support, etc.
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on July 16, 2012


Ah ha ha! You've all done very well!
posted by Twang at 1:36 PM on July 16, 2012


I wish we had an official "Fuck the Olympics" symbol.

Vancouver had this one.

posted by looli at 1:51 PM on July 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


Sure, NBC's Olympic qualifying coverage is well underway, but their much hyped 17 day, 272.5 hour coverage of Americans Winning after Overcoming Great Adversity doesn't begin until after the opening ceremonies.

(And how precious is nbcolympics.com for informing us that they recognize 32 different sports, not merely 26 like the IOC does? You mean it's not just the female gymnastics world championships?)
posted by ceribus peribus at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2012


Obviously it's time for the Open Source Olympics.
posted by Twang at 2:07 PM on July 16, 2012


It certainly had no relation to the communities of Stratford and Leyton who butt up against the fence.

Yes. It's something that is happening here that the local community ought to be a part of but really isn't. It's happening to East London, but not in East London. They've even created a special Olympic postcode for it all. My daughter's choir has sung carols at LOCOG sites the last three Christmases. Are they involved in the Olympics? Uh, no. Did we get tickets to any of the events we applied for (£1200 worth of tickets, all told)? Uh, no. Can we get onto the Olympic site to soak up the atmosphere, I mean, why not, it's only £10? Uh, no. Can we look longingly through the fences at the haves, the corporate pricks and competition winners and friends of friends who managed to get in? Uh, no. The army are there to move you on. I feel like a mug. Because I bought into it. I thought it would be inclusive and invigorating. I didn't want to let my flat out and piss off out of the country because, after all, it's a once in a lifetime experience. And it was cool watching it all go up, the skyline changing week on week. But you can't get anywhere near it now. They've taped up the bridge to Westfield so you can't even look at it. And it's pretty clear that all we have to look forward to, locally, is paying for the upkeep of these various white elephants. The stadium will pay for itself, I suppose, but the rest of the site won't be subsidised forever. And they're closing my station so I have to walk through the fucking thick of it every day, and being a Londoner, I am predisposed to judge people who get in my way and don't know where the fuck they're going and oh, whoops suddenly a fucking million of them milling around like tits on my doorstep and asking directions from security people who don't speak English. I'm sick of idiots with credentials getting under my feet and it's still two weeks to go and I have to work Friday week so I'll be travelling towards Stratford in the rush on the night of the opening ceremony. Fuck me.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:44 PM on July 16, 2012 [23 favorites]


The Village was going to be located at the East River Waterfront of Queens across the United Nations Headquarters. During the Olympics and Paralympics, it would have housed more than 16,000 athletes and coaches. Costing an estimate of $1.5 billion, the Village would include plazas and shoppes, restaurants, acres of green landscape, training centers and fields, a private dining hall, religious centers, and ferry and train service. Post-Olympic plans would provide world-class residential housing for up to 18,000 New York residents.

Yeah, you can ask Vancouver how well that went when it was tried here...
posted by jokeefe at 2:46 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a bit surprising that BBC hasn't yet made "The Grumpy Guide To The Olympics".
posted by iviken at 2:47 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, you can ask Vancouver how well that went when it was tried here...

It's okay, the developers who let that project go bankrupt and stuck the city with the bill are still getting council to let them demolish neighborhoods and build more dodgy glass towers on the upzoned parcels!
posted by junco at 2:51 PM on July 16, 2012


Thanks junco! For a minute I lost my faith in the inherent reasonableness of capitalism!
posted by jokeefe at 2:52 PM on July 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems like every city that hosts ends up with people bitching about the games. Except Beijing where you'd probably get thrown in jail for complaining.
posted by delmoi at 3:15 PM on July 16, 2012


There's an official make-up that supposedly all female athletes have to wear on the podium.

Yeah, it's the escorts, not the athletes. And it isn't unusual for some uniformed jobs - the lipstick Virgin Airlines hostesses wear is a specific colour named 'Virgin Red'. It's like a stage make-up, almost, and has probably been tweaked to look good on camera rather than real life.

Max Factor is an unusual choice, though - they're a P+G brand, if I remember correctly, but the brand withdrew from the US some years ago. I'm surprised they didn't choose something that sells worldwide, like CoverGirl, which they could have relaunched here on the back of it.
posted by mippy at 3:18 PM on July 16, 2012


It's stupid and awful because it submits the human element - the ordinary variety in human choices and desires, bodies and faces, to a uniform and commercial treatment for no reason other than a sort of aesthetics of advertisement. It is as creepy as a North Korean choreographed march, even if we are so used to it that we don't find it weird, because it is...well, it's kind of aesthetics as fascism. No one particularly likes this stuff, it's not important, it's not part of some democratic pageantry - it's just being required so that the advertisers can have total control over every detail.

I see your point, but would it be any different if the article said 'here's the look that an artist has come up with to go with the uniform' other than naming the brand? Putting aside the assumption that women need to wear cosmetics in their job - I'm usually team personal choice, but I have the feeling this is designed to work on camera - I can see why they did this. I wore uniform at school for five years and little variations like a different yarn in the jumper or sneaking some eye shadow really does stick out. (Which is why I hated uniform and would hate to do a uniformed job, up to and including restrictive office dress codes because I look shite in black polyester.) As oneirodyna says, it means thousands of people don't have to stand in Boots trying to match eyeshadow to their uniforms.

For the last few months the National Blood Service has been running radio adverts saying that blood stocks always run low during major events and that we should remember to "give blood during this summer's sporting events". This was fine in the run up to Euro 2012 and Wimbledon, now that they've passed the advert says "give blood during this summer's sporting event".For the last few months the National Blood Service has been running radio adverts saying that blood stocks always run low during major events and that we should remember to "give blood during this summer's sporting events". This was fine in the run up to Euro 2012 and Wimbledon, now that they've passed the advert says "give blood during this summer's sporting event".

Yeah, there are a lot of rules about references to the Games in adverts, as you can imagine from the LOCOG news stories. My job involves telling people what they can and cant' say in ads, and the semantics modules I studied for my degree are proving to be value for money. It's the same with most events - references to the Jubilee, for example, which could be construed as suggesting an official connection - but because sponsors want to advertise the connection as much as they can, we have to make sure everyone else is extremely careful.
posted by mippy at 3:32 PM on July 16, 2012


They've even created a special Olympic postcode for it all.

Well, they stole it from EastEnders.
posted by mippy at 3:33 PM on July 16, 2012


I have an idea, use your antiquated, unused digg.com account to make derogatory links to the IOC site. Win/win.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:38 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Olympics organisers have warned businesses that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including "gold", "silver" and "bronze", "summer", "sponsors" and "London".

How can you co-opt the word "summer"? That's insane. I would love to mess around with that:

Check out our "In-between Spring and Fall" dresses.
"Opposite of Winter" squash now on sale in fresh produce.
Beat the heat of "mid-June, July, August, and mid-September" with our fresh and fruity ices.
Book your "hot time of the year" holidays here.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:01 PM on July 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


You think summer is the what time of the year? Perhaps you are thinking of a different Olympic city?
posted by biffa at 4:30 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are they sure about 'summer'? I've seen plenty of ads on TV or the Tube referring to 'summer sales' or 'summer deals'. 'Olympic sales' would be different, and references to sport or medals are iffy, but certainly not the mention of the season. I think that's a bit of wishful thinking.

Nobody's banned these, yet, after all. Although Sainsbury's are Paralympic sponsors.
posted by mippy at 4:42 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah but if I wrote : Book your "dreary, grey, cold time of the year" holidays here! that could be year round.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:42 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


EndsOfInvention: "The Olympic torch can fuck right off. Yeah, let's close a bunch of city centre roads in the middle of rush-hour. THANKS ANCIENT GREECE."

Actually, I think Hitler has to take the blame for that: "The torch relay that culminates in the ceremonial lighting of the flame at the Olympic stadium was ordered by Adolf Hitler, who tried to make the 1936 Berlin Games a celebration of the Third Reich."
posted by Auz at 4:43 PM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


mippy: "Are they sure about 'summer'? I've seen plenty of ads on TV or the Tube referring to 'summer sales' or 'summer deals'."

They're probably only clamping down on “summer” when someone connects it with “games”...
posted by Auz at 4:45 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, that makes sense then.
posted by mippy at 4:46 PM on July 16, 2012


mippy: "I can see why they did this."

I suppose it is slightly unfair; they probably weren't aware everyone else was going to combine to make things look so totalitarian (or they'd have gone for a less natural theme...)

Anyway, here's a young lad being pushed off his bike for getting too near the “bubble” around the Olympic Flame.

And a new favourite tumblr, on the whole thing.
posted by Auz at 5:10 PM on July 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm glad I don't own a business in London, because I wouldn't be able to stop myself from pushing the envelope pretty hard: ALYMPIC GULLED METAL SALE! INTERNATIONAL SUMMER COMPETITIONS SPECIAL!
posted by Rykey at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2012


Saw a poster in Argos' today that was really pushing it - gold background, silhouette of a an athlete who was jumping/hurdling with something like 'leap into our summer sale' and in the corner a small sun with 'celebrate 2012' around it. Gave me a smile
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:28 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


London 2012: Police told to empty crisps into plastic bags to avoid advertising rival brands in Olympics
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:29 PM on July 17, 2012


Britain’s Largest Black Newspaper Denied Credentials To Cover London Olympics
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2012


Londoners react to the incessant tube station tannoy announcements from floppy-haired fop Boris Johnson (spoiler: there's quite a bit of swearing).
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:06 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Tube Tourette's" sounds like a serious public health threat. Someone needs to stop Boris before his psychological terrorism causes irreparable harm.
posted by homunculus at 1:36 PM on July 17, 2012


The Olympics seems to be having an evil miasma effect - everything that it touches begins to smell bad. If it carries on like this the schadenfreude may be too much, and I'll have to lie down.
posted by Grangousier at 1:45 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In other dystopian news: Court order prevents BBC from broadcasting film about riots
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gah. Link.
posted by homunculus at 9:38 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


As mentioned by one of the MPs interrogating the chief executive of G4S, the beleaguered security company not only has more people than Luxembourg, but it also has an anthem.

It's medically amazing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:47 AM on July 18, 2012


Allegedly, a bunch of former graffiti artists have been hauled in by the police for at best spurious reasons and subjected to bail conditions that ban them from all London public transport and a one mile radius of any Olympic venue until after the event.

I don't know that this is true, but I wouldn't be remotely surprised to find it is.
posted by jonpollard at 3:50 AM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is Channel 4's Paralympics ad, which is pretty cool.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:18 AM on July 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


yep, was just coming here to post about that graffiti artists thing. Totally crazy if it is true. How the heck will they get to their jobs? Taxi? This is basically fining someone for an offense that they have already been fined for. Nuts.
posted by jonbro at 5:51 AM on July 18, 2012


MartinWisse - the 1952 Summer Olympics were in Helsinki, winning the bid against Amsterdam, among others. Helsinki actually won the bid already for the 1940 games, but they were cancelled due to some international disagreements.

Spot the piece of dry humor.
posted by Anything at 6:20 AM on July 18, 2012


Heh. "Helsinki."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:02 AM on July 18, 2012


Graffiti artist who worked for Adidas is banned from Olympic Games venues

The full might of the law has just been engaged to prevent a man from owning paint and marker pens.

I'm trying to think of something pithy and sarcastic, but all I can do is sit here opening and closing my mouth like a fish, which is rather hard to spell. We appear now to be living in a parallel universe, made of pure stupidity.
posted by Grangousier at 3:41 PM on July 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh wow, that anthem. My cat fled the room.
posted by troika at 8:00 PM on July 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Q. How many G4S security staff does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. Six soldiers and a policeman.

(thank you popbitch)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Twenty-five police officers arrest six people for spilling custard on the pavement.
posted by Grangousier at 3:18 AM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Police officer acquitted of manslaughter after spilling man on the pavement had multiple assault complaints: police lawyers sought to conceal this from familiy of dead man..
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:15 AM on July 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yet again, I cannot tell if those links go to the Onion or not.
posted by rtha at 7:32 AM on July 21, 2012


How much more before the revolution begins?
posted by notashroom at 7:33 AM on July 21, 2012


Probably a lot more than we'd feel comfortable with. That said, although I know some people in London who half-heartedly go along with the official line on the Olympics, I've not met anyone who seems to actually believe it, and all the people I know who went to see the torch being carried around come back to mock the Parade of Sacred Sponsors that the event really seems to be about.

I know I'm getting off rather on the schadenfreude and moaning, but I'm honestly surprised by how much it's like people are finding out not so much that Santa doesn't exist, but that he's really a pimp and a crack dealer.

For those of a negative and unpleasant bent this really is the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by Grangousier at 12:14 PM on July 21, 2012


Take down that bunting , citizen. It's not OlympicsTM approved.
You'll celebrate properly or not at all.
posted by Mezentian at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2012


There’s a little 18 hole par 3 course on Lea Bridge Road which I play occasionally. I got up early to go up there this morning, thinking that buses would likely be disrupted and aware that it might get busy on the Sunday of The Open. And I did have to wait a while for a bus, but it’s a beautiful morning. Then another bus from Baker’s Arms, but you never have to wait long there. I get to the course and there’s a stout woman outside just shaking her head at me. No shorts? I wonder. Perhaps they’ve instituted a dress code? No. No golf. There is no golf. They’ve turned my pitch and putt into an Olympic campsite. BECAUSE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE WE WOULDN’T WANT ANY SPORT GOING ON IN THE RUN-UP TO THE OLYMPICS. We don’t want superfluous, unregulated sport happening here. Particularly non-Olympic sport. Now, I know that golf isn’t the most athletic of pursuits, but I would humbly suggest that it’s a damned site (sic) more athletic than camping. Those tents basically erect themselves nowadays, leaving their occupants to smoke roll-ups and discard beer cans in bunkers.

I felt a little sorry for the woman outside, once the urge to wrap a rescue club around her head had passed. She wasn’t in Olympic uniform. Or she would be on her way to hospital as I type. ”It’s been advertised everywhere,” she said, with a note of defiance. I have chosen to forgive myself for not noticing advertisements for the closure of a public golf course amongst the fucking deluge of commercialism surroundings the Games. I was, perhaps, too preoccupied with thoughts of where I might celebrate London 2012 with a Coca-Cola to pay sufficient attention to the inch square caveat on the course’s homepage. Fucking pricks.
posted by tigrefacile at 1:55 AM on July 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


”It’s been advertised everywhere,” she said, with a note of defiance.

So the Olympics are being run by Vogons. This explains quite a bit, actually.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:55 AM on July 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have been directed here from a thread where people wanted to be excited about the Olympics. I think I'll be much happier here. Hello everyone.

Here's a good one about anti-sponsorship: Pepsi-drinking, Nike-wearing, MasterCard-using customers to receive 30% off as part of anti-Olympics Oddbins campaign
posted by memebake at 6:31 AM on July 25, 2012


The hashtag #fucktheolympics is getting fairly swift traffic if you want to keep on top of the cynicism
posted by memebake at 10:24 AM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


North Korea initially refused to play their Olympics women's football match with Colombia on Wednesday night after a South Korean flag was shown on the Hampden Park big screens alongside their team lineup.
posted by memebake at 1:44 PM on July 25, 2012


after a South Korean flag was shown on the Hampden Park big screens alongside their team lineup.

Is anyone collecting Olympic gaffes? There are always some real doozies. Maybe I'll start a tumblr.
posted by troika at 3:05 PM on July 25, 2012


North Korea initially refused to play their Olympics women's football match with Colombia on Wednesday night after a South Korean flag was shown on the Hampden Park big screens alongside their team lineup.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/18/london-2012-medal-ceremony-flag-fear

Niccy Halifax, who is organising the victory ceremonies at the London Olympics, insists the prospect of such horrors, and the grovelling apologies which follow, does not keep her awake at night. "It [messing up a national anthem or getting a flag wrong] just isn't going to happen. It's not. It's not," she says, with conviction.

"Right, DEFINITELY not going to make a mistake this time."
"Er, we just showed the South Korean flag next to the North Korean football team."
"DAMNIT"
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:09 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


“Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” A slapfight even the most cynical among us could love.
posted by psoas at 8:45 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did a search on the site just now to see if this had been posted -- because reading that quote on TPM, I just said "Daaaaamn" aloud. Because it is pretty awesome.

I can't help but think Romney just gave the London Olympics organizers a huge boost, where local press who would have complained about inconvenience will be more prone to keep quiet because Romney pisses them off more.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:35 AM on July 26, 2012


In fairness to both awful robot creeps, in the middle of nowhere is where the Olympics belongs.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on July 26, 2012


I can't help but think Romney just gave the London Olympics organizers a huge boost, where local press who would have complained about inconvenience will be more prone to keep quiet because Romney pisses them off more.

Yeah, outside criticism is bound to lead to circling of the waggons, generally. (Remember, only British people are allowed to make negative comments about this country).

Strange move by Romney, the day before all the stories were about him trying to show that he'd be a better friend of Britain than Obama (apparently) is, and stressing the "common Anglo-Saxon heritage" of the countries (hmmm...). Then he does this. Not smart.
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:54 PM on July 26, 2012


The only other people who collectively refer to the people of Britain as "Anglo-Saxons", in the UK at least, are nazis, so it was piss poor to begin with.

Also the Olympics may be a hideous monstrosity but having some asshole come along and gloat about it isn't going to make anyone like the asshole.
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on July 26, 2012


Oh and I suppose us Normans are just chopped liver then!
posted by The Whelk at 1:11 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put you down as "French".
posted by Artw at 1:56 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I am going to sack your seaside village.
posted by The Whelk at 1:59 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fun Facts: Supposedly I am descended from Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was a bit of a frenchie himself.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on July 26, 2012


and I'm descended from highland goat thieves!
posted by The Whelk at 2:04 PM on July 26, 2012


About twenty-five years ago, I had a post-Up-All-Night, hangover-combatting Big Breakfast in a greasy caff in Kennington, now long gone. I was sitting at a large table, and everyone else there seemed to know each other. Their leader was a strange gentleman who proceeded to lecture me on how England could still be divided into Anglo-Saxons and Normans. The Normans still running the show and keeping the Saxons down and newcomers to the country being filtered into one group or the other, though usually that of the Saxons.

In that state of mind - a fug of sleeplessness, alcohol, coffee and saturated fat - it made perfect sense. Even now, it's a theory I'd give more credence to than I really ought to.
posted by Grangousier at 2:13 PM on July 26, 2012


Well that makes perfect sense as long as you assume that nobody was in the country when the Saxons and the Normans turned up and that nobody has arrived since.
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2012


East End Has Thousands in Illegal Squalor Near Olympics
posted by homunculus at 5:07 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Partial Readings: The New Austerity Games
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:46 PM on July 26, 2012


How to Become an Ancient Olympic Ruin
posted by Artw at 12:17 AM on July 27, 2012


Just... yeah.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:01 AM on July 27, 2012


This is quite a good set of tips on pretending to be a Londoner.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:12 AM on July 27, 2012


Boston Globe's 'The Big Picture' photographs: Olympics 2012 -- Opening ceremonies.
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on July 30, 2012


Yeah I was a cynic, but I like sports and the Olympics is a feast of them (well it was with the awesome BBC coverage). The problem is, as so many of the comments point out, the lack of exposure of many, many of these sports. We used to have Grandstand on a Saturday afternoon, which would show bits of all kinds of sports, but now its just football football football (yeah, I like that too, but am getting more cynical about it as I get older) and the dominance of Sky has created this.

But when I actually watched stuff, I loved it. I watched the Womens boxing and saw Nicola Adams make history as the first woman to win an Olypic Boxing Gold. I saw Mo Farrah Win both 5000 and 10,000 metres. I watched hockey and rhythmic gymnastics. And finally, I saw Usain Bolt win Gold in 100 and 200 metres and the Jamaican team win Gold in the 4x100 metres relay (which we were disqualified from as, in one of our changes, the baton was not handed on quick enough - schoolboy error huh?)

After Bolt won in the 200, he took a camera from a press photographer and took some pictures and the next day, the BBC had them on the website. Suck on that NBC.

Anyhow, have a laugh at the amazing closing ceremonies...

BBC version - may not be available outside UK

Various bits on Youtube.
posted by marienbad at 4:40 PM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


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