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A topical message from our overlords

fuck the olympics!

(Image reproducted by kind permission of the inestimable Smuzz, who has been illustrating stories by me since 1986.)

86 Comments

1:

As an American citizen I was pleased when Chicago lost their bid. The Olympics are a great idea but they are way out of hand.

2:

They've been a bizarre and offensive parody ever since 1936, when Mean Mr Moustache turned them into a propaganda exercise; since then they've only got worse, with rampant commercial corruption and now gross infringements of civil liberties on a national scale.

The Parisians ought to be glad that London took the bullet for them this time round. Me, well -- as this junket is costing £12Bn to lay on, I reckon I'm forking out somewhere around £500 in tax to line Ronald McDonald et al's pockets while giving up chunks of my rights to free speech and public assembly for the duration.

Not happy.

3:

I live in London. For the next month I don't intend to leave home.

4:

How many Tube stops have been upgraded to support handicapped access in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic Games[*]? 12 billion pounds is too much money for this, but better handicapped access is a lasting good (and helps families with small children just as much).


[*] Is that combination of words illegal?

5:

Citizen, you should know better! Only Proles take the tube. Olympic athletes and officials can make use of the new super-efficient Zil-lanes that have replaced large chunks of London's above-ground road infrastructure, while ordinary SUV drivers can of course enjoy the privilege of driving in what used to be bus lanes! Cyclists ... well, you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs, and who cares about spokeheads anyway (apart from the ones in the Velodrome)?

6:

It's hard to hate the Olympics, but its east to hate 'the man'!

7:

Only a few weeks ago the BBC filmed several disabled people trying to use supposedly upgraded lines. Most of the places they still couldn't get off.

I'm all for better disabled access but it's a sad day when to get some of the funds for projects like that we have to tack it onto a corporate stimulus.

8:
The Parisians ought to be glad that London took the bullet for them...
As a Parisian, I have to confess that I... popped the champagne when I found out we lost the bid.
9:

The transport policy from the start appears to have been "Look, it's screwed already, we don't stand a chance, so how about you just give up and try to stay out of the way?". Economic policy has been "Look, somebody is going to make a lot of money, so it's clearly good for the economy. Florists and newsagents? Who cares, how much sugar water do they sell worldwide?"

Now if Red Bull were the sponsors, at least we'd have the consolation of funding some funky F1 engineering or a recreation of Kittinger's 1960 "space dives", but no, the money is just going to an ongoing worldwide marketing war with no great benefit to humanity.

Frankly, I'm proud to be one of the 5% who was more than an hour away from the torch route.

10:

From my experience so far with this monstrosity I think it's fair to say that the people wanted the Olympics... or rather they wanted the pomp & circumstance, they wanted to watch the ceremonies, see the torch and obviously revel in the media putting atheletes on a pedastal (and knocking them back off again).

But as to the actual venues and disruption it's caused (and always causes where ever it lands) they're asking "Couldn't we have shoved it out in the middle of the ocean, somewhere other than London?"

And all because some rich twits wanted their wives to go shopping in Knightsbridge.

Ohh, Charlie, bet you a pint you get a least one person running around who smells suspiciously like a paid marketer appearing.

11:

Every single one of my work colleagues went out to cheer when the torch passed by 20 minutes ago (flanked by advertising boards, booming soundsystem and huge numbers of police). They were aghast when I decided to stay in the office and read the paper.
Nice to know there are other people who feel the same way I do!

12:

On the bright side, if half the rumors about the opening ceremony are true, then that part of the planning at least has been long since seized by the satirists. (Do a Google search for "olympic bed dance", without the quotes, if you'd like to see what I'm talking about. Mind you, it's not what you think. It's rather less titillating, but ... spectacularly dumb. And that's before we get into which two avatars of British culture are doing battle at the climax...)

13:

Wouldn't the cost of the games plus tourist travel be a direct economic stimulus, much needed to counteract the Conservative's austerity plan, or has the spending been deducted from normal government spending? Does anyone have a handle on what the expected extra spending the games will generate in the London area?

14:

I can't speak to its utility as a stimulus program, but I can assure you that pretty much all arts funding -- from the national lottery proceeds -- has been sucked into the black hole of the Olympics. The NL was set up originally with promises that its proceeds would be ringfenced for the former public arts budget ...

15:

Better disabled access on the tube; oh, I needed a giggle today.
This is the original plan from 2008 (PDF): http://www.london2012.com/documents/oda-transport/accessible-transport-strategy-accessible-pdf.pdf
Highlights included 25% of stations being step free by 2012.
What did we get? Not very much: nice summary in http://todayinlondonblog.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/30/11939415-disabled-visitors-face-high-hurdles-to-london-olympics (I haven't seen any of the 'platform bumps' that some tube stations get; I don't plan to go further than the end of the road until the games finish! we're on the cycle and tennis routes)

Salient points:
" TFL, which is run by the mayor, scrapped its promise to make a quarter of stations step free by 2010 and a third by 2013. Now, 65 of the 270 stations have step free access from street to platform, but most of those still have a gap between the platform and train.
Wheelchair access will be available at locations key to the Games — Stratford for the Olympic Park, Southfields for tennis at Wimbledon, and Green Park for equestrian events — but, not at the vast majority of tourist hot spots, including Piccadilly Circus, Notting Hill, and Covent Garden."

16:

It seems to me that the London Olympics will be the militarized and most censored games in history.

17:

Apparently the Olympics may not actually pay off. Many of Beijing's venues are sitting idle, and one could easily make the argument that—given China's record spending on infrastructure—most of the city improvements like the subway would have been built anyway.

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/freakonomics-radio/does-hosting-olympics-ever-pay

18:

While the Olympics will undoubtedly add to the number of tourists in London and the spend that comes with them, London doesn't exactly struggle to attract tourists anyway.

Also, although some of the money these tourists spend will find it's way to local merchants a large portion of it will be on official Olympic sponsor products. Nothing wrong with that, that's what the sponsors stump the money up for, but a large portion of the cost of staging the Olympics was stumped up by London council tax payers and none of the revenue is going to be given back to us.

So, we're paying for it, having to suffer weeks of major inconvenience and disruption (it's estimated that it is going to take 3 hours to get on a train at one of the stations I have to commute through twice daily), security at full on paranoia levels and there wasn't even any preference given regarding obtaining tickets.

When we won the bid my optimism won out over my pessimism and I was excited about it, the past few years' omnishambles have managed to kill that excitement and stomp my initial optimism into the ground. I really can't wait for it all to be over.

Good luck Rio

19:

I cannot express how relieved we were when Bloomberg didn't get his way about any of the Olympics he wanted, whether they were the winter Olympics or not.

It's impossible to get around the city with all the tourism as it is. And I'm talking here first, just walking on the sidewalks, there is pedestrian gridlock in many places during various times of the day, every day.

20:

Yes, it costs too much money, but the park itself is lovely and after will become something special. By all accounts people who have seen the practice ceremonies were very impressed.

Transport will work pretty well, but people will just have to wait to get on a train, at peak there will be 400,000 visiting the park and there will be queues. No doubt doom and gloom merchants will be screaming disaster when a bus gets lost or a train breaks down going red in the face spit flying going 'I told you so'.

This is not the most heavily policed or censored games, just look back to Beijing.

Compared to other games what will be left behind will be used again and the rest transformed, this will not be a forgotten moldering park.

The biggest criticism for the regeneration, that will be used against in the coming years, is that it will be a middle class ghetto amongst the rest of East London.

But on the other hand would London have got the tube ugrade programme, or the East London line, the DLR or the New King cross to the timescale or or size.

Any large scale project has the same whingers saying it's a waste or not needed or what about all the schools or hospitals that could be built instead of crossrail/wembley/high speed line/motorway/shard/new airport/ jubilee celebrations etc etc.

21:

Small world. I'm lettering a comic book series that Smuzz is drawing at the moment. Been a fan since waaay back when he was SMS…

22:

I live in Madrid. Our former mayor (nicknamed "the Pharaoh" for his taste for expensive public works) spent loads of taxpayers' money bidding for the Olympics, time after time. I wish they never take place here, corruption is quite bad already.

Bankrupt city, in a bankrupt country. And someone will wonder why.

23:

Only 18(?) days to go.
I sincerely hope no-one drops tacks in the Olympic Lanes.

24:

Actually, Charlie… forgive me for hijacking your comments thread momentarily, but since we share a creative acquaintance in common, can I request your assistance drumming up a little public outrage at HMG's attempted copyright land-grab on so-called 'orphaned works?

http://clintflickerlettering.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/soapbox-proposed-uk-copyright-reform-of.html

Apologies, once again, for the tangent. Please feel free to tell me to fuck off and/or delete this post if I've over-stepped the bounds…

25:

#1: What he said.

As for my own opinion I hope this turns out better than it seems likely.

Still, all my friends with bad attitudes want a copy of the London 2012(tm) mascot dressed as a cop; it'll go great with their plushy Cthulhu toys!

26:

You think you've got problem. I was walking out of Broadcast Centre this afternoon only to be confronted by thousands of people, and Bruce Forsythe carrying the torch.

Never has compensation culture seemed such a really good idea.

He's not as tall as you think.

27:

I was living in Georgia back in '96. Atlanta was completely trashed and even in Savannah, where I lived, and where they held the boat races and water sport portion of the Olympics, it was a nightmare. They removed all the mail boxes in downtown Savannah, on the off chance someone might deposit an IED in one (and yes, there was an IED set off by a loon in ATL, but it barely made a dent in the precedings).

28:

Given the low sums of the fines compared to the incomes and bile of a large number of Londoners, I do wonder how likely a mass use of the co-opted lanes will be, just as a giant _Fuck You_ to the powers that be.

29:

The BBC had a 30-second video clip of one of the rehearsals.

It had a few seconds of the beds.

Some things might look good if you're there, but would be easy to mess up on TV. The clip, as a teaser, might be deliberately a bit off. Close shots of performers when it's the mass effect that matters.

Credit to the competitors, they're doing something remarkable to get those gold medals. But here we are, in Britain, and they found they couldn't sell tickets for football matches. Though what I heard was that they couldn't tell you who was playing when, which isn't a good start.

30:

Yeah - we can discuss how silly it is to require the games before we get direct government spending on transport infrastructure and housing, but that is what it took.

Also like it or loath it things like the new Westfield at Stratford only built now because of the games.

Living in London I have to say that while there are quite a few who really hate it, my observation would be that there has been a gentle upswelling of genuine enthusiasm in recent weeks, particularly from the torch relay.

I think the impact of the games lanes on ordinary people vastly overstated - lots of indignant journalists used to getting cabs everwhere. Ordinary people don't drive in central London. Also see Jon Snow today:
http://blogs.channel4.com/snowblog/olympic-lanes-bliss-alive/18241


Own view is that both views of games can co-exist - it is both a hideous security-theatre-sponsorship-censorship-junket and a chance to celebrate a lot of people who are the best in the world at what they do coming together. And if we must do it lets try and do it well (not that it's what I'd have chosen to spend £9bilion on if I was grand high leader)

31:

Think of all the trips to Mars this could've paid for!


:P

32:

"I sincerely hope no-one drops tacks in the Olympic Lanes."

Or caltrops, for that matter. It would be a shame if someone (or many someones) found DIY caltrop instructions on the interwebs and threw a handful whenever passing by the Zil lanes.

33:

I was really angry that the Westminster/Whithall government of what they think of as the London polis, refused to allow Manchester to have the Olympics. Anything major, especially anything that involves spending national money, HAS to be in London. Can you think of any National This, British That, or Royal The Other that isn't in London? (OK the National Exhibition Centre was too big to fit, and the Royal Shakespeare had to do some of its plays in Stratford - but beyond that?).

But having seen the disruption caused, I'm glad we didn't have it here after all.

It's just a pity that we have to pay for all the long-term effects which (if any) will only benefit London.

34:

Manchester and Birmingham were official bid cities before, they were laughed out of hand. For lots of smallish countries, they only have one maybe two cities to chose from that they can put forward for the bid.

35:

I hope that Seattle never bids hard for the games, or even worse, wins them. Vancouver a few years ago, and Salt Lake City a few years before that, were way too close.

The IOC brand police would lose their freaking minds about Seattle. See, we have this huge and awesome mountain range looming over the city, that a lot of local politys, streets, and businesses named themselves after...

36:

What Americans know about your Olympics. If they care at all. A headline in my yesterdays business pages. "Business finding Gold at Games." In the back page, it said its generating 7 billion in commercial activity. Hosting expense were to be $5 billion, and are now expected to range from $15 to $20 billion. They say its being used to revive a economically challenged part of your city. Never mind they just could have spent the money on the city, in the city. The chief technology officer of Cisco Systems said "it was rundown or gerally a wasteland." Cisco is providing networking. It said London may not recoup the expenses but its been a huge boost to the psyche of the city and the nation. So, do you feel boosted? Who were they thinking of? At least we are not the only ones ruled by crooks and fools.

37:

The Royal Armouries are in Leeds.

The National Railway Museum is in York.

38:

#33 Mancunian (and reiterating Dave Bell at #37)

Yep, Royal Armouries in Leeds, stunning displays, great re-enactments of personal combat, and free entry (though parking costs arm+leg+kidney). But when it was moved, did you see that pompous prick Brian Searle (art critic), frothing at the mouth that Royal *anything* could be put in the *spit* *splutter* provinces !!.

Also (less prestigious) National Mining Museum (NCM) between Wakefield and Huddersfield - totally free including underground tours led by ex miners (instead of frothy marketing tour guides) - blunt and funny guys.

UDI for Yorkshire !

WaveyDavey

39:

The Olympics, like most other things these days, are a gaudy revolting spectacle of corporate greed. They have nothing do do with sport and your o ly contribution as a member of the public is to act as a consumer.

There are many, many worse excesses going on but the Olympics are emblematic of the end game take over of the planet by the global elite and their political and media support teams.

40:

Also note: the National Film and Photographic Museum is in Bradford.

41:

More Olympics (™) madness: according to the Grauniad today, Spain is bidding for the 2020 Olympics. Teetering on the edge of a banking collapse, having to borrow money at higher rates than I do, but still trying to find another money hole to pour cash down.

42:

#41 It was mentioned before in the comments; the local goverment of Madrid (same party as the national goverment ), has been bidding for this since... always.

Its the sweet combo of a - God damnit the housing bubble collapsed and I cant do all my usual shenanigans to finance party and friends, so I need an excuse for giving public land right and left and b - God damnit Barcelona, the separatist anti-Panish enemy, had their own Olympics decades ago why in hell are we going to be less?

43:

That was "anti-Spanish" but I'm a fool that submits without preview :-P

44:

And the fleet air arm museum is in Yeovilton, Somerset.

http://www.fleetairarm.com/

I'd probably be there right now if it weren't for the fact that I can't take an European vacation this year.

45:

The whole thing is a big bunch of @rse.

46:

The whole thing is a big bunch of @rse.

47:

I wish my hobbies got the level of funding that athletes' hobbies do.

48:

Be careful what you wish for. An influx of professionals and money can make any hobby a lot less fun. Apart from anything else the cost of any equipment you might need goes through the roof.

I am watching it start to happen with climbing at the moment. Not good.

49:

The situation is somewhat worse with a number of shooting disciplines, like 10m air rifle. The technology for this is fairly well decided on; compressed air with complicated valve technology for propulsion, and a stock with more adjustability than you can shake an allen key at. However, with a small market and a number of manufacturers producing guns for it, one is effectively buying near-custom made kit new (such is the paucity of the secondhand market).

It is therefore possible to buy an air rifle with pin-point accuracy for hunting/field target for about £500, whereas a fairly similar 10m gun won't give you much change out of £2000 (and the sighting equipment on the latter is much lower tech).

50:

One obvious exception is Royal * things in the Commonwealth. The Royal BC Museum and Royal Tyrell Museum in western Canada would start the list, and I suspect that by the time you reached New Zealand it would be very long. The crown has to give permission for the Royal designation.

It says something that the Economist, usually broadly supportive of current arrangements, is cautiously against the Olympics ("yes, they make no economic sense whatsoever, but they might be fun and you can't measure everything in terms of money").

51:

Sports nuts love to talk about economic stimulus, get a bit quiet when asked how much the parking attendants, vendors and rent-a-cops actually bring home. About a truck load of money for a handful of people, mostly you'd be better off if a few new fast food establishments were built instead.

52:

Instructions? Not so much, a bag of jacks, a grindstone. Yield, many energetic recitations of the seven words.

53:

These days called The National Media Museum and the first place in the UK to have an IMAX screen.

And to add to responses to the original questioner about out-of-London stuff, the Royal Bath and West Show is in the West, near Bath. But I suppose that doesn't really count, not being properly national.

54:

I can possibly see the theoretic value of sporting events from an entertainment perspective even though they don't appeal to me. My absolute hatred of commercialism and what I see when I am exposed to them makes me glad I'm not a fan because otherwise I'd have a dog in this fight only it's an ox and getting gored.

Someone did a study about American football (hand-egg) and there's only about four minutes of actual action, stripping out all the commercials, endless replays and empty fluff. Four minutes of action in a nominally 60 minute game that takes 3.5 hours to play! And they cut to commercial every time something happens. They'll run plays during the commercial breaks. Even when you're sitting in the stadium itself, the action will pause for other scheduled commercial breaks.

I love the idea of the Olympics but hate the execution of it. If I were a restaurant owner and told I couldn't sell chips because the American diabetus clown has a monopoly, I'd fry up a mess of taters and dare them to stop me.

55:

If the Olympic Games have grown too big to handle for even a large city like London, that doesn't bode well for other locations.

Does this look like an itinerant host of mercenaries straight out of some fantasy fiction book, the precise inversion of "The Festival" to anyone else?

56:

Totalitarian regimes always do shows like the Olympics better. All that's lacking is a new Leni Riefenstahl.

57:

If anything, it resembles an Indian Potlatch: Burning a fortune in goods and effort in order to buy yourself and your family social status.

58:

I wish my hobbies got the level of funding that athletes' hobbies do.

That's what I used to think. Then I went to ComicCon and saw what happens when my hobbies do get that level of funding. You'd think it would make it possible to do more, varied things, but instead, works like steroids: more of the same, just grotesquely, inhumanely proportioned until it becomes a mockery of what it was.

59:

However, with a small market and a number of manufacturers producing guns for it, one is effectively buying near-custom made kit new (such is the paucity of the secondhand market).

Similar things happen in most sports/competitions with technical details.

NASCAR, going back about 15 year or so, mandated more and more details of the cars used so that smaller budget teams could compete. But what this did was drive the richer teams into exploring the "gaps". And the reason for it being the richer teams is that exploiting these gaps resulted in very small improvements after lots of research. So now it can cost $10 million for a cheap sponsor deal for a car that will likely never finish in the top 10 of a race and I imagine $30 to $40 million for a first rate team sponsorship.

Then we can talk about F1. They make NASCAR look cheap.

61:

F1 is something I stopped watching years ago. I just got annoyed at all the effort put into stopping the cars going faster.

62:

I think being positive about a system tnat, in the name of the chultu's tenth ventricle has copyrighted "London" "2012" and "Olympics" is not that wise.

The sport side will have some benefits long term-- we now, know, for instance, the lethal long term dose of Nandralone (simply because most American sprinters from the 1980s all died young as a consequnece of the doses they took).

But as propaganda -- massive fail. The sooner these rites -- neither decently ancient and pagan, nor from Christendom, but instead some kind of "right on" pablum that would offend anyone with any aesthetic or moral sense -- is over, the better.

My sympathies for London now, and more so when the hangover wears off.

64:

That pic seems to be dragging out the inhuman political set. Make comparisons at the inter-country level, and the NHS is pretty efficient, but, from my own experience, the current drive is cutting costs by false efficiencies.

I've a strong suspicion that, during my father's recent stay in hospital, they didn't deliver the three antibiotic tablets per day that were prescribed. There was a 21-tablet pack, 7 days, and he returned home after 6 days with 9 tablets in the pack. It looks as though he was only getting 2 tablets per day.

It looks careless.

65:

The NHS is vastly more efficient than the US medical system. Of all those employed by the NHS, from cleaners to lab techs, one third are doctors and nurses. The latter outnumber administrators nine to one.

66:

I've stopped calling them The Olympics. I now refer to them as "The McDonald's Happy Games(tm) (formally 'The Olympics')"

67:

Can somebody explain to me who "on high" actually wanted the McGames and why. It doesn't seem to deliver a lot for the huge amount of public money spent and as a distraction from real problems works almost as well from the other side of the world with no cost. Who in the host city is gaining?

68:

What impresses me is that Smuzz' poster totally predicted the opening ceremony's Flying Fire Death Zappo Rings of Death and Fireworks. Well done that man!

69:

I did not know they were the same person, Been ages since I saw him though.

70:

I'm torn between seeing J. K. Rowling (from an alternate world where Magic makes night into day), the Queen (to the James Bond music), Evelyn Glennie on percussion, or Rowan Sebastian Atkinson as Mr. Bean, as the highlight of the Olympics opening ceremony. The case was made robustly that UK kicks global butt in Literature, from Shakespeare through Peter Pan and beyond. Then our AT&T Uverse overloaded its cable bandwidth just before Sir Paul took the stage...

71:

I'm torn between seeing J. K. Rowling (from an alternate world where Magic makes night into day), the Queen (to the James Bond music), Evelyn Glennie on percussion, or Rowan Sebastian Atkinson as Mr. Bean, as the highlight of the Olympics opening ceremony. The case was made robustly that UK kicks global butt in Literature, from Shakespeare through Peter Pan and beyond. Then our ATandT Uverse overloaded its cable bandwidth just before Sir Paul took the stage...

72:

Sorry for the repetition, which resulted from that sporadic bogus message that an error occurred during submission. I changed "AT&T) to "ATandT" in case the ampersand was a metacharacter...

73:

Interesting you should say that. Personally, I'd doubt it - getting an Olympic-quality air rifle for £500 from a hunting manufacturer sounds a bit unlikely, and last time I looked at the Field Target guys, they were using the same Steyr thing that gets flogged to the Olympians with a few tweaks. LG110 or something?

One of the GB shooters is a nice guy called James Huckle; he started out in Field Target, then discovered that the skills were transferable. I can assure you that he isn't relying on a £500 air gun. Meanwhile, those sights may not be optical, but they are rather precisely made (Centra kit because of their smaller production runs). One problem comes with dealer mark-up in a small country, and German golfers face the same problems in reverse. By buying my kit on the manufacturers stand at a World Cup, I was paying half price.

The nice thing about the Olympic cartridge events is that even if you bought the top-line kit, world class, everything, brand new from local suppliers, you could probably do it all for about £4k, £5k if you started choosing obscure Swiss rifle manufacturers of dubious levels of improvement. If you wander down to the shotgun range, you'll find that competitive shotgun will cost you nearly twice that (no, they aren't using Grandad's old side-by-side). If you asked a golfer what a full set of pro clubs cost, they'd laugh at something so cheap; the road cyclists would guffaw, and the track boys would multiply it by five.

74:

PS I'm typing this in London, having travelled down to see the Games via the Royal Armouries in Leeds. Great exhibits, the kids loved it - and the parking was quite cheap in the nearby multi-story. Alain's suggestion of the FAA Museum at Yeovilton is also a good one, absolutely excellent setup, right up there with the Tank Museum at Bovington and the IWM at Duxford.

We're off to the Water Polo tomorrow, and to Fencing and Judo the day after (not bothering with going to the shooting, the boys spend enough time hanging round rifle ranges...). Looking forward to it immensely

Apologies for being positive and excited, normal cynicism will be resumed soon ;)

75:

Loved all the bits you suggested, was impressed that they went for the Sex Pistols in the medley, glad that Eurythmics and Queen made the cut, and ecstatic that Oasis didn't.

The engineer in me rather liked the fact that they managed to fit I K Brunel and Tim Berners-Lee into the show :), loved Mr. Bean, and thought that the Olympic Cauldron was magnificent. I do wonder whether non-British will have watched it and asked "WTF?", but it's only fair after all the unintelligible previous Opening Ceremonies that I've watched.

I was at the point of saying "isn't that Ban Ki-Moon?" when they revealed it was him... Did want a very scary Guards RSM to have several stern words with that RAF bloke back left on the flag party, mind you. Idle, I say, idle.

76:

There was a general feel of OMG how did they do that! Just look at that sequence from Brunel to the glowing rings: there was some serious theatrical engineering in that, and none of the usual facilities of a theatre. It was with an audience on all sides, under an open sky.

I noticed they didn't remove the big water-wheel. And I'm pretty sure that a lot was happening while the TV cameras focused on Mr. Bean.

77:

Seems there's another message being sent too. It appears that there are large chunks of empty seating at events, despite all the tickets being sold out quite rapidly (the cause of quite a lot of complaint recently). It has been suggested (by culture secretary Jeremy Hunt) that the un-used seats belong en-masse to sponsors, who simply can't be bothered using them, even though they must have paid huge sums for them.

So what message is that sending?

78:

The blocks of empty seating are just standard corporate incompetance and beancounting.

McBastards Ltd. spend x-million on corporate advertising and as part of the deal get a block of ceremony tickets.

What do they do with them? They won't use them to shmooose since putting up visitors in a hotel in London whilst the Olympics are on will cost a fortune.

Giving them away will cost, is a PITA and sends all the wrong messages.

In the end the tickets just get binned and you get mysterious gaps in the seating.

Despite all the propaganda, corporate entities are even more prone to waste and incompetance than governmental ones, especially when they are splashing the gravy around.

79:

That picture doesn't exist any more at this time...

80:

Well, Day 1 (of 2) at the Olympics was a big success, apart from a ten-minute burst of truly foul weather. Transport was a scoot both ways, no unnecessary announcements on the DLR; TfL's response to a growing queue at Stratford was to throw the gates open rather than conduct ticket checks. Security was fast and efficient (going by badges, 16 AB Bde were manning one of the blocks and 3 Cdo Brigade another).

The venue was well set up, and we got to watch two water polo matches this afternoon. My goodness, it's physical - heavy set blokes, knocking lumps out of each other. Great fun, enjoyed it hugely.

81:

Somewhat against the theme of this topic. My daughter would like to stop over and go to a single event. Women's Gymnastics all around on Thursday I think. Is there a black market in scalped tickets that can be trusted? And where she could buy the tickets in the US no later than Wednesday?

82:

Who in the host city is gaining?

Bureaucratic juju. You get the Olympics, you forever get to pad your resume as the guy who made Something Big happen in your city. There is an entire class of people who will find this Impressive, and give you further monies to piss away on Pointless Big Projects.

83:

No, it's a lot bigger than that: get the Olympics and you forever get to pad your resume as the guy who made something huge happen for your nation. A lot of the pressure for the British Olympic bid came from Tony Blair, who is something of a megalomaniac (and who seems to be delusional enough to think he can re-enter British politics and take back the Labour Party for another round -- no term limits here).

Also lots of construction contractors gain. And security corporations like G4S.

84:

Around the places and people I've been the last week or so whilst AFK, the Snark level has been somewhere between 11 and 13!

85:

They're talking about releasing any returned tickets, stung by embarrassment about empty seats while tickets were unbuyable. (the suspicion is that tickets allocated to corporate sponsors and NOCs weren't given out / taken up).

Check the official websites; don't hold out much hope for scalpers. Your problem for gymnastics is that there is a UK medal hopeful, so there's a demand for tickets.

Day 2 saw us spend a day at the Excel arena, watching a Tron-like Fencing arena (womens' épée) and then Judo in the afternoon (the kids both do it, and one of their club was in last 32). Brilliant fun.

The venues were effectively full (any empty seats around us were late arrivers or early leavers); the organisation was excellent (planned and laid out well); crowd management was thoughtful; helpers were cheerful; security was slick, fast, effective, and unimposing; transport was spot on. It may have been London during the Olympics, but we drove away during rush hour along the North Circular, no traffic jams.

There's still some time to go, but apart from the billions of public money that were spent (note: less than 10% of the monetary cost of Blair's foreign adventures, AIUI, less than a year's cost of Brown and Ball's "light touch regulation", on the same order of magnitude as a month's variance in Osborne's public lending requirement) the doom-predictors, and I-told-you-so brigade may have to smile and enjoy it.

Meanwhile, I continue to be amazed that the BBC seems to find world class foreign athletes for commentary, that the US networks haven't used. McEnroe is double-hatting for NBC, but Michael Johnson does (excellent) stuff for BBC athletics, and they had Greg Louganis on last night covering the diving. Is there a reason that the US networks don't use them? ;)

86:

As I type this, I am sitting in an office at Sydney Olympic Park. This is the area where the Olympics were held, twelve years ago.

General feel of the place: it's quiet. Too quiet. Not much happening outside of a very small area. Outside of business hours, there's pretty much stuff all happening; occasional sporting events and the like, not much else. From all accounts, it's a similar story in most post-Olympic regions.

All in all, I really can't see the Olympics being a useful way to spend money. Maybe if the facilities are already there, ready to be used ... but the IOC doesn't want to do that; I think they're too fond of their free junkets to different countries on a regular basis.

That's before you get into the whole bidding process and the corruption inhent in it, and the simple fact that Australians are being far too precious about the way we're "losing gold". Clue, guys - I'd be more than happy to take a bronze at the Olympics; or even last place in the finals - because realistically, just getting that farsi a massive achievement in itself.

All due respect for the individual achievements, but I really can't bring myself to give a damn.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 26, 2012 12:38 PM.

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