The Olympics are going to be held in London this year. There has been much enthusiasm by what is without doubt a minority of people in the country. In London, most people, at least most people I know are bewildered by the whole prospect. In a time when there are so many extremely issues to contend with.
My guess is that most people are indifferent to the whole affair but resent the cost. Personally I don’t understand why the Olympics have been called the greatest show on earth. What the attraction is of semi naked people running round a track is beyond me. I mean who cares, if someone can jump longer than someone else. Or swim the length of the pool fastest. The whole concept is ridiculous. And the games are getting bigger. Every sport is vying to be part of it including sheep shearing (is this a sport?) archery, cycling, football, basketball, lots of running, long distances, short distances, what they call intermediate distances, hop skip & jump. Boxing, even women boxing, is a sport included in the games. It is hard to believe that without the hype, anybody would in fact be interested in women boxing. I thought women were supposed to educate men in the ways of peace etc.
The distinguishing feature of homo sapiens is his intellect – our intellect that is. The various activities which make up the Olympic owe almost nothing to intellect & almost everything to simply practising completely banal & uninteresting skills & spending hours & hours & days & days improving fitness. Fitness, which in fact has nothing to do with health. It is a fact that these we, at least in the Western World do spend too much time, in front of computers, televisions & so on. Playing endless hours of sport isn’t going to remedy that; it will just create different problems. Problems to do with endless injuries. Take professional footballers. Their lives are a catalogue of injuries. It is true that we have come a long way from our ancestors, the hunter gatherers that is. We, the human race have accumulated much knowledge & the world we inhabit is much different from what it would be without the endless intelligence & intellect employed. I personally would say that the greatest show on earth would be more likely to be the chess Olympiad. Mind, abstract thought, memory, resilience, high IQ. These are some of the qualities needed to be any sort of chess player, let alone grandmaster. At the chess Olympiad, held every other year, teams from every or maybe almost every country in the World compete. Normally the Soviet Union won. Of course the players of the Soviet Union had a big advantage. The ancient Chinese game Go, which is these days one of the national games of Japan is a much better game but not so widely played although there are in fact more people who play Go mainly because of the proportion of 1.3billion Chinese who play . And then there are mind games tournaments which comprise bridge, chess, draughts, Go & Xiangqi, otherwise known as Chinese chess which in fact I have played a few decades ago. Mind games, in fact any games, even bingo, are very important. However minimal may be the intellect required, it is better than nothing. In games there is the added element of competition, hating losing etc, which just stretches the brain a little bit more. I am somewhat surprised that neither backgammon nor Scrabble is included in mind Games tournaments. Maybe there is an element of luck involved in those games that I don’t know about. But then surely there is an element of luck in Bridge, isn’t there. In fact there is luck involved in chess. You think you are losing or that position is about equal. You look again & there is a winning move; a wonderful feeling that.
It could be that worldwide internet events are the greatest show on earth. Protests against human rights abuses, against vivisection, against climate change events all over the world. coordinated so that it all happens simultaneously, sometimes they are online events. How much notice authorities take of it, is difficult to know? Probably not a lot. Probably they don’t take much notice of online petitions. In fact they probably don’t take any notice at all. Sometimes there are coordinated events. On Sunday there is one. People will be demonstrating all over the World on behalf of political prisoners & against executions in Iran. In London, it will take place in Trafalgar Square from 1pm – 3pm.
The greatest show on earth could be Live Aid in 1985.
There have been some examples of Governments listening to demonstrations. In the Czech Republic, the government backed down over internet piracy laws after street protests. In the UK during the Thatcher era, the poll tax was abandoned as a result of street protests & public anger. One feels that the collapse of Soviet hegemony in East & Central Europe was at least in part due to street demonstrations, especially in Romania, Czechoslovakia & East Germany. Indeed in Moscow when Boris Yeltsin stood on a tank amidst the widespread demonstrations when presumably people thought now or never, the people prevailed. The events in the last year or so in the Middle East & North Africa can be said to be a manifestation of people power. The events in Iran 33 years ago were a demonstration of people power. Not for the first time nor the last the revolution was hijacked…
So why are the Olympics described as the greatest show on earth? I’m sure the early (modern) Olympics weren’t. I assume the original Olympics in Greece were. After they are over, there is… nothing. All that will remain is the clearing up after the party. The stadium used for cycling, the velodrome – I don’t know the origin of that word – which has cost £80m will be demolished immediately after the Olympics. There has been a massive row going on about the athletics stadium itself, as to what to do with it, once the event is over. 2 football clubs Tottenham Hotspur & West Ham United have been vying with each other to take over the stadium & use it for football after the Olympics are over in spite of the fact that the Olympic Games were awarded to London on condition that the stadium – which at that time didn’t exist – would afterwards be a permanent stadium for athletics.
London is a grossly overpopulated city. It is a kind of Mecca in the sense that Rome once was. All roads lead to London, it seems. It is a 24-hour city. It is a high crime city. Most of all, the transport system is bursting at the seams. There are many tube lines with frequent trains. But nevertheless, if you get a seat on the tube you can consider yourself lucky.
The people who live in London, the so-called Londoners, are being asked to leave London or at least not to use public transport during the games. But why should anybody want to do that? Then there is the security. It is certain, well almost certain, that at least one terrorist group is planning an outrage. Maybe the police are on top of the problem but it is not certain.
Some of the consequences of it are the cost & the security. The UK will be paying for them for generations just as has been the case with other Olympic Games. Another is the incredible inconvenience. But we can’t complain. The people we elected made the successful bid. The security required is going to be incredible. It is going to be stifling. I presume there will police cordons & searches of bags within the vicinity of the Stratford & beyond where the games are to be held.
Oh well, it could be worse. It could be the Roman version of the games, where at each event thousands of people were killed for the delectation of the populace.
I have said before & I will say it again, the Olympics Games should be held once every 10 years. They should always be held in Greece. Greece couldn’t afford it so the Olympic committee should pay for this.
While on the subject of Greece, it does seem that they are going to be cast adrift. It does seem strange that no-one in government thought to warn that imminent meltdown really could happen. There is no doubt that Greece does run the country & its economy in a strange way. The trains apparently have more employees than passengers. Even I, I who does not profess to understand capitalist economics, realises that this makes absolutely no sense. What the other countries, the countries which on the whole are not solvent but are less insolvent than Greece wants is for Greece to leave both the EU & the single currency, the Euro because if they, Greece, stay in it will cause the whole ramshackle organisation to collapse. But if does, the country might descend into civil war which would obviously be bad for the stability of Europe & probably the World outside Europe.
The Southern countries such as Greece do tend to lead quite laid back lifestyles. Perhaps they are right. I haven’t been to Greece myself but it does seem to be the sort of country where people like to go on holiday. It is hard to think of anything really which the Greeks produce apart from olives & olive oil. Also they make money from the tourist trade. It appears now that France & Germany knew that Greece was cooking the books. The Euro project was primarily a political act. In economic terms it made no sense. Not even the Warsaw Pact countries had the same currency although the various countries which embodied the Soviet Union did.