Monday, 9 April 2012

Fuck The Olympics

When Trenton Oldfield launched his protest against the elite by disrupting the Boat Race this weekend, he would almost certainly have been aware of the likely repercussions for him personally and the British sporting summer to come. Whatever you may think of Oldfield's sabotage, in disrupting a major establishment jolly, he will have reminded the government of the likely embarassment it could face if protesters decide to use sporting occasions as suitable opportunities to make themselves heard.

Not that they will need much reminding. Make no mistake, the Coalition are leaving nothing to chance. Forget missing out on the World Cup, the Olympics is still the big one. It's the perfect stage for nations of all political ideologies to strut their stuff, to display their cojones to a global audience and, in maintaining a united front of Corinthian valour, sporting nobility and heroic deeds, validate itself in the eyes of its home crowd and the watching world beyond.

Last summer the riots in London effectively gave the greenlight for the biggest mobilisation of our armed forces since 1945. Tens of thousands of troops will provide security for the Olympics. There is no doubt that the Games provide a high profile window for the would-be terrorist but the troops aren't just there for counter-terrorism purposes.

Colin Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association and a former Sports Minister, spoke over the weekend of "idiots" ruining the Games with protests. This is almost certainly a first shot across the bows before the all out attack on civil liberties can properly begin. The Government's vision for 2012 is a fortnight of British triumph being beamed to the world. There will be zero tolerance for voices of dissent.

The BBC, neutered since the election via a frozen license fee, promise an unprecedented digital stream of every event at the games. The Royal Mail, themselves under the threat of further privatisation (job cuts), will be issuing a commemorative stamp for each gold medal that Team GB wins within 48 hours of them standing on the rostrum. This would appear to be not so much a case of capturing the public mood as dictating it.

Many sporting fans feel that politics has no place in sport. Tell that to South Africa, to Jesse Owens, to Tommie Smith. Karl Hudspith, the president of the Oxford University Boat Club, said of Oldfield's protest that "my team went through seven months of hell, this was the culmination of our careers and you took it from us." There's nothing quite like an ideologically minded disruption to ruin a lifetime's professional dedication - just ask the teachers, nurses, firemen about to have their own race disrupted.

So, I'll be avoiding the Olympics this summer. As much as I can. For the press are already keen to play their part in dictating the mood, the Sun counting down the days to this event with each edition. Soon the shops will be awash with Union Jacks and "official" 2012 merchandise, the one eyed mascot Wenlock will be ubiquitous, and the talk down the pubs will be of medal chances, drug tests and dropped batons

This is a government already well practised in deceit and deflection, the illegal NHS reforms swept under the carpet, the Prime Minister's connections to a corrupt and criminal media ignored in favour of convenient rows over taxing hot food. Whilst your Bolts and Ennises seek to wow the crowd, the Coalition will be silently ushering in the next phase of dismantling the few remaining public institutions for private profiteering.

With that in mind, I'll be hoping for a summer of British sporting failings, for each gold medal won will be an excuse for Cameron and the gang to bask in the reflected golden glory of athletic valour.

The Olympic flame initially symbolised the theft of fire from Zeus by Prometheus, a triumph for human inventiveness and pluck in defiance of overwhelming odds and seemingly unopposable forces. It's modern day descendant will not have been alone in its journey from Beijing. It will have been accompanied with a Beijing-inspired distaste for dissent, for oppostion, for the human spirit.

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