What with the Olympics (apologies to anyone who saw that third word and was immediately inclined to cease reading this post) being shoved down our throats at every opportunity and by everyone from the BBC to politicians to clothing brands, it’s getting a little tiring being told very matter of factly that London 2012 will “define what it is to be British”. In fact, many people would agree that spending an unimaginable amount of money on hosting what is effectively a dragged out international sport’s day in a country which can’t remember a time when employment was high or the word “austerity” didn’t feature at least once in every news broadcast isn’t quite the way we would wish to symbolise the nation.
This is in no way a slur on the athletes taking part – the courageous men and women striving for sporting excellence in front of an audience of millions – it is a plea for those who aim to profit as much as possible from the games to consider whether exploiting the Olympics by disguising their many “official” products as patriotism or, ultimately, “britishness” is actually aiding the country in the long run. Sure, in the short-term it’ll boost the economy; let’s hope so anyway given the unthinkable sums spent on the venues and organisation (and no I’ve no idea where we’ve sourced that cash from either). However, wouldn’t we prefer the lasting legacy from the most incredible show on earth to be a sporting one?
Don’t we want generations to remember the cheers, the excitement, the exhilaration, the resolution on the faces of athletes before a final, the pain of losing, the glory of being the best in the world? Rather that than the outcry over McDonald’s being a major sponsor or the ridiculousness of having a one-eyed stuffed toy that resembles a Cyclops for a mascot? Everyone knows that the defining moments of the Games will be created on the track, in the pool and anywhere else which lends itself as a sporting venue; why not’s let leave it to the competitors to create the hype?