The Olympics – Heaven or Hell?

Very few people are indifferent to the greatest event that will grace Britain during their lifetimes. This article critically considers both sides of this contradictory coin

Olympic Heaven

The pro-Olympics camp has much to celebrate. For the first time in over 60 years, the Olympic Games have come to Britain and we will have the opportunity to enjoy a feast of sporting endeavour on our own doorsteps.

For just over two weeks, the sun will shine and proud British athletes are bound to bring in the largest gold medal haul since the modern Olympics began in 1896.

The lucky few will be able to enjoy iconic events such as the opening and closing ceremonies and the 100m finals live, witnessing world records broken with alacrity by athletes whose bodies are so highly tuned that we may never see their like again.

The rest of us can enjoy the thrill of the chase from the comfort of our own homes or even on a variety of mobile devices at work or on the move. At times, this is likely to get so exciting that cities will grind to a standstill as we wait with baited breath to see whether yet another Brit gets gold.

As we have seen with the Andy Murray phenomenon at Wimbledon, Brits love their sport and though the brave Scot didn't quite make it, he certainly inspired a nation so that every TV screen in the country was tuned in to watch and pray. At the same time, tickets for Centre Court were apparently going for the kinds of prices normally associated with family holidays or electric motor cars.

A hidden Olympic benefit will see many youngsters desperate to emulate their heroes, take up a life of sporting endeavour and in doing so shared pounds of unwanted fast food flesh.

In addition to all of this, we will have the Olympic legacy with its transport infrastructure, regeneration of parts of the country and massive sporting stadia, though why we couldn’t have recycled more existing ones is a still a mystery.

More personally, everybody at PKF is very excited at the prospect of seeing their international tax supremo and marathon runner, Katherine Brown leading out in both the opening and closing ceremonies the small, exclusively marathon contingent from a country the name of which she is not yet permitted to divulge.

Olympic Hell

Anyone that hates physical activity is unlikely to relish two and a half weeks of an unremitting sporting diet that could blight every aspect of their lives.

Even sports lovers might find the constant coverage and inevitable discussion more than they can take.

The hope that London could ignore the physical presence of the Olympics has become slim thanks to some recent revelations. It seems that the city will be doing a good impression of a totalitarian state under strict martial law with major roads closed to allow dignitaries to pass by, surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets deployed in and over the streets of our capital and the general impression that Londoners will be bossed about if they get in the way of events for which they are paying through the nose. But perhaps this is mere paranoia?

The main issue that is causing panic is the prospect, revved up by its operators, that the transport infrastructure will not be able to cope with a predicted 1 million additional visitors to London. It is very hard to believe that this is more than a scare story promoted by those that want to create a false feelgood factor when all runs the time.

While there has to be every prospect that trips to Olympic venues may take a little longer than desired, it is hard to believe that we do not have the capacity to soak up a few extra tourists, especially bearing in mind that so many Londoners are deserting the city for the duration.

It has to be said that sport is not what it used to be. In 1948, every athlete in the Olympics was determinedly amateur, the only kind of performance enhancing drugs that they took were the odd stimulating tot of rum, a pint of Guinness or a quick fag by the side of the track.

One suspects that back then, while every athlete wanted to win, being a good loser meant a lot. Now, victory (or least winning a medal) is all and anyone who comes fourth will be a forgotten failure within seconds.

Unfortunately, recent court cases have turned London 2012 into the drug cheats Olympics. While many people may harbour suspicions that a significant number of gold medal winners this year will be supported by a hidden industry that supplies potentially lethal but highly effective drugs to athletes, it seems even more likely that some previous miscreants will be happy to repeat their offences.

Therefore, either we will not have a level playing field or conceivably the Games will be devalued as vast numbers of seeming winners are chucked out with their medals passed downwards to those that trailed in way behind them.

Conclusion

Whether one believes that the Olympics really will be heaven or hell, let's try to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For some, that means the chance to see sporting legends in the flesh. For others, there will be wall-to-wall TV coverage to enjoy on our brand-new 50in 3D HD TV screens.

For those that hate the Olympics this mighty least be an opportunity to catch up with friends overseas or those activities that normally never quite get completed.

At the end of the day, we will be left with some fine new housing, sporting structures to die for and, despite pandering to multinational fast food and drink companies, the kind of debts that exceed those of some small countries.

Comments
G_T_I's picture

For and against

G_T_I | | Permalink

As a sporting event I will enjoy them, although the concept of them being amateur is long gone.

However, I hate, loath and detest the greedy commercialisation brought about by the sponsorship of the games.  

Particularly objectionable is the way in which no one is allowed to use the 5 rings symbol without immediately being threatened by hoards of nasty little solicitors. The Olympic rings belong to us, the people, not to some corporate thugs. 

If some corporation wants to "own" the games then fine, let them pay for the games and refund the billions spent by taxpayers.

As a sporting event I hope the games are a success, as a commercial venture I hope they are a complete flop.

 

Completely indifferent

Cloudcounter | | Permalink

A collection of sports that don't interest me in the slightest.  (and yes I do like a number of sports none of which is reprsented at the Olympics.  Can't imagine that I'll watch any of it - I managed to get through Beijing with only about five minutes, but this might be more difficult.

The commercial bullyingl is shameful, particularly where it impnges on people doing what they've been doing for years. 

JAADAMS's picture

Long moan about the Olympics on behalf of small business..    1 thanks

JAADAMS | | Permalink

I live near Weymouth where the Olympic sailing is to be. Ask many local businesses about the Olympics and you'll find the answer to be less than enthusiastic for a variety of reasons. The waste of money is all to see. At one roundabout there have been placed flagpoles with flags that are blue and have the London 2012 Olympics logo - what exactly is going to happen when the Olympics is finished - they cant remain so will be pulled down.

This tells the real story.... I go to a Business Womens meet every other week at 7.30pm and getting a car parking space near the hotel Prince Regent on the sea front is just impossible in June/July - I have to park quite a walk away. Last week I could park anywhere. I couldnt believe it - the place was deserted! Why?

I told the manager of the hotel and she told me that her bookings were really down. For example, they usually have three weddings a week - this year they have had three booked for the whole season. A direct result of the Olympics. Many of the lovely small hotels/guest houses on the seas front are displaying 'Vacancies' for the weeks up to the Olympics .

The reason being that the usual holiday makers are staying away. The Hotelier association in Weymouth are worried -  worried in case people go somewhere else, like where they go and dont come back.

I have a client who runs a Cleaning business she has three full time employees and always does a good trade in the summer cleaning holiday lets as well as the usual rental properties. She usually takes on at least three additional staff in the summer - she has taken on none at all this year. When I asked why she said because people are not coming to the Dorchester/Weymouth area for their holidays - put off by the Olympics. She wasnt big enough to be allowed to quote for the Olympics themselves.

I could go on...no.. the Olympics is bringing pain to a lot of small firms. And Coca cola as the official sponsors wont allow anyone to advertise - a business isnt even allowed to put up a sign e.g 'Hotel Prince Regent welcomes the olympics' - says it all really.

And dont even start me on the £365K spent on Weymouth's new 'mushrooms'!!

 

 

Add comment
Log in or register to post comments
This blog

The world is overrun with blogs and tweets. While they serve a purpose, this column is something slightly different. You will not find out what the author had for breakfast or the colour of the socks he is wearing. You will not be pestered with tedious listings of every film, book, play etc that your correspondent has ever seen or his latest success or otherwise on the golf links.

What readers have come to expect from a writer who has been associated with AccountingWEB almost from its inception are objective but on occasion quite possibly opinionated articles about topics that might be of interest to accountants as people. The intention is to be simultaneously challenging, thought-provoking and entertaining.

Since the writer is a partner in the Human Capital team at BDO LLP these columns will frequently take on issues relating to taxation, business and government policy. For light entertainment, he is also London Editor of British Theatre Guide so there will be plenty of hints and tips about what to see and not to see.

He also regularly writes about technology for London Accountant and almost anything else under the sun for a variety of publications so there are always going to be odd surprises in store. Travel, art, books, theatre, sports and consumer issues are all likely to receive consideration in coming months - but so are taxation issues, thoughts on the latest technology and, inevitably, the activities of the Chancellor and HMRC.