Monday, 23 July 2012

The strangulation of the Olympics

(This article mentions Shakespeare's view of the connection between mind and body) 

Sam Leith in The London Evening Standard today complains about the over- commercialisation of the Olympics in "Ideology and cash take a back seat in cycling".  He says

"The two great lies about the Olympics are that that are not about politics and are not about money...." but the event is  "so rifled with corporatism". 

The UK taxpayer and his or her children, after paying to host this event, should be allowed to wave an Olympic flag or two, or wear a tee-shirt with five rings and a Union Jack.....

Instead the London Olympics seems to have been completely privatised. You cannot wear any gear at an event which does not bear the approved logo, in case TV transmits you advertising a brand that did not pay for the half second of coverage. This shows the symptoms of extreme control.

This is totally quenching the amateur, founding spirit of the Olympics which was about something above sport and politics : our common bonds in friendly competition, in place of war.

London is quiet today - very few people, even tourists seemed to be around. Some say that hotels have spare rooms.  There is no excitement in the air. London seems to have locked down - but unnaturally prettied up. It is not its free, anarchic self.  This atmosphere contrasts with joyous royal London events when London belongs to all.

The real "thrill" is focused on British Bradley Wiggins, albeit half Australian, winning the Tour de France - which does seem like a huge sporting "feat". It was an open, free, national event - not a corporate party for the "rich and chosen".

I was just now - on the BBC News - astonished to see huge Olympic gold rings on red velvet, hanging behind the Queen in Buckingham Palace's Ballroom - instead of her royal crest.  Jacques Roges, the President of IOC, even seemed to have taken the place of the Duke of Edinburgh, looming over her, but beside her.

I keep hearing journalists forcing themselves to call The British Olympic Team "Team GB".  I am not listening to two weeks of that.....

However, I am also relieved.  The unnatural alliance of sponsors and sport has finally come to the surface - in a rather unattractive manner.

For me, this "alliance" explains a lot about the anti-intellectual movement in society and in the Church. Huge corporate megabucks have been working hard to "dumb" us all down and "sportify" everything - marginalising anyone with an unathletic body but a still independent mind. Bankers, and no doubt corporates sit on the boards of the BBC.  The aim of "sponsors" is one thing: the profit of themselves and their shareholders.

The truth is that sport is not the be all and end all of life: nowhere in the Bible is it mentioned.

Psalm 147:10 says

"God does not take pleasure in the legs of a man...."

- but in the righteous only. Exercise should compliment an honest mind, which is creative, wellstocked, and not idolatrous. Without a true mind, in Shakespeare's worldview, you are not the "owner of your face" - or body which is surely a godly view supported by the Renaissance. Today, instead of "Renaissance man", we have  "machine man" - but only in logo trainers.

Finally, when I heard today that a healthy 18 year old, fresh from her strenuous exams and keen to have a wonderful time helping at the Olympics was never contacted by G4S or kept "on the boil" (and therefore went on holiday), my interest in this event completely died.

I am going to find a good book and enjoy it as my revenge on an "elite event" which I have helped pay for - but from which I and countless other "nobodies" seem to have been completely excluded.

I am already looking forward to the time when this po-faced "straightjacket" leaves our shores.

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