By Denis G. Campbell
Seven years ago, LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) under former Olympian Lord Sebastian Coe promised that London could deliver a spectacular XXX Modern Olympic Games for just £9 billion pounds (or $13 billion dollars). This was despite the Chinese spending almost £40 billion pounds for their Games in 2008. We in the press just laughed until the Tories won and their draconian austerity cuts began to kick in everywhere… except the Olympics.
Now the most over-budget (30% and growing) modern Summer Olympiad since Atlanta in 1996 begins with its Opening Ceremonies in a few hours. Those ceremonies will focus on the ‘island’ of Great Britain. The XXX (30th, not salacious triple X-rated – as yet) summer Games will be missing the spectacle of 10,000 Chinese extras banging drums and dancing in boxes.
What these Games won’t lack will be intellectual property police and lawyers running around rapidly shutting down any excitement local pubs and businesses attempt to generate inviting patrons to watch the Games in their establishment. If they use the five rings (photographed by me at great risk recently in Cardiff) they will see rapid justice headed their way. The corporate sponsors must be protected at all costs!
While these Games won’t lack in police ready to issue to issue enormous fixed penalty tickets to non-VIPs using special Olympic road lanes created to allow visiting dignitaries to silently and swiftly whisk their way to the Olympic Village (even ambulances, buses and fire brigades must cling to the two lanes everyone else will fight for), they will lack in any sense of responsibility to the City of London and the people of Britain as prime seats will be designated for sponsors only and, if history is a barometer, will sit mostly empty for most events.
These Games have thousands of riot police on standby to quell any attempt at protest or free speech outside the venues, yet lack basics such as modern on-site security. Because of a spectacular private security company failure, these Games will have up to 5,000 British troops providing security instead.
Indeed gatherings such as these have often been magnets for protestors to express their outrage at so much spent on behalf of corporations that run the Games vs. the real needs of the people of Britain. So punitive are the punishments planned for exercising one’s free speech, they will face unprecedented speedy courts, fines and arrests for assembly.
Remember the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and those huge protests? Tampa and Charlotte (host cities of the upcoming US political conventions just weeks after the Games end) will join London (and perhaps, Egypt?) with armoured and militarised police forces trampling on the rights of people to assemble and protest. Kitted out in body armour, riot gear and military-grade crowd dispersement apparatus’, free speech will not even be remotely possible.
These Games, as former PM Tony Blair was quick to point out as he arrived refreshed at the venues via special hi-speed VIP lanes, need to be “a source of pride” for all Britons. We need to stop complaining as “their real value will not be fully realised until 10 years after the fact.” Well there you have it, Tony has spoken, all must listen and obey.
Imagine the pride residents of the apartment building with rooftop surface-to-air missiles batteries must feel.
Or how about the pride UK troops and police whose summer leave was cancelled must now feel because security contractor G4S became a poster child for greed and incompetence a fortnight before athletes and guests began arriving?
As the mercury hit 30 degrees this week, there must have been lots of pride as trains could not stop at the Olympic Village this week because of track heat issues.
There surely is a lot of pride as athletes arriving were forced to sit on buses in traffic for 4-hours after flying overnight to the UK. Even they were banned from the special travel lanes.
Can you feel the pride-filled rush of thousands who were forced to enter a ticket lottery and then walked away with nothing despite Wednesday’s Millennium Stadium opening women’s football match showing thousands upon thousands of empty prime location seats in a 70,000 seat stadium where sponsors and VIPs should have been sitting?
And with this newfound pride, think about the police facing 10% across the board cuts, schools that will reopen in September facing larger classes and even further cuts, the systemic dismemberment of the NHS health system to private Tory pals and the dismantling of public worker pensions?
But hey, we’ll get to see David Cameron and Boris Johnson’s smiling faces everywhere. They have zero shame that these Games will cost the UK its future.
Oh, and did I mention the .7% GDP drop showing we’re in an even bigger double dip recession than anyone thought?
Have you caught Olympic fever yet Britain?
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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