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London 2012 Olympics – One Londoner’s Rant

The Olympic Stadium, made of legos

The Olympic Stadium, made of legos

So the Olympics; you probably have heard that they started a few weeks ago.

And if you live in London or anywhere in the UK, then you’ve known about the Olympics for quite a while now; unless you’ve been living under a rock, a really big rock, in a forest, far away. And even then I think you would’ve known what’s happening.

It’s been impossible to avoid Olympic news around here.

They probably didn’t cover the 70 day and 8000 mile journey the torch took around UK as extensively outside UK as they did here. BBC has been telling us every day what the torch has been up to every day since it started its journey from Greece months ago.

You'll get used to all the pink colour in public transport quick

You’ll get used to all the pink colour in public transport quick

They’ve been trying to get everybody into the “Olympic mood”.

And since the Olympics started, the BBC might as well been renamed to Olympics channel along with Sky News.

Alright, so maybe I am not the biggest sports fan around, but I don’t mind watching sports with people who actually care about them. I thoroughly enjoyed being in Spain when they won European Championship in football few months back.

We watched the Olympics opening ceremony in the Tirol Austria house near Tower Hill here in London. We saw it in an alpine hut with windows showing snowy Alps outside; and we saw it with Austrian commentary, while we ate snitchels and bratwurst.

It was pretty cool.

Then we watched Denmark beat Spain in handball at St. Katherine’s docks from a big screen with bunch of Danes. It was a great atmosphere and such a tight game.

And that’s the great thing about the Olympics in London; there are lots of other side events going on. Plenty of other countries are showcasing their country during the Olympics.

If you are in London, and haven’t seen any of them yet, you should go!

You'll see plenty of volunteers dressed in pink everywhere

You’ll see plenty of volunteers dressed in pink everywhere

And yes, I went to a pub to watch the 100 meter final.

And it was worth it!

So, yes I actually quite like having the Olympics in London. I like festivals and big events. Sure things can get a bit crowded here at times, and yes there are occasional problems with the public transport, but I don’t mind that.

No matter where you live, at some point your city will have a big festival, so you might as well enjoy it and not moan about the little things. And I do have to admit that Londoner’s have been complaining about the public transport during the Olympics a lot less than I would’ve expected.

It’s not like London has come to a complete standstill with the Olympics; unlike Pamplona in which normal life comes pretty much impossible when the San Fermin festival kicks in. So compared to that, I think having the Olympics in London is actually pretty tame.

My problem is more with how the whole thing has been organized.

I think they’ve slightly gone overboard with the military. Yes, we probably do need some security, but do we need a military aircraft carrier on Thames with helicopters constantly flying in and out, military barracks in east London, sonic weapons and surface-to-air missiles on top of residential buildings. I feel like they’ve militarized east London; It just seems a bit too much.

Military aircraft carrier on river Thames

Military aircraft carrier on river Thames

 

And apparently someone was even arrested for not smiling. Alright, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but basically they arrested a man with Parkinson’s disease because he seemed suspicious. 

The sponsorship side of things is just more amusing to me. McDonalds and Coca Cola sponsoring the biggest sporting event on the planet?

Really?

McDonalds?

Alright, it’s capitalism at its best, so I’ll let that fly, even thou it is a bit bizarre.

But what McDonalds has managed to do is claim total ownership over French fries in the Olympic Park. Yes, they’ve banned everybody else from selling chips. Unless it’s as part of Fish and Chips, I suppose even they can’t do anything about traditions, thou they did try.

Then there is Visa as an Olympic sponsor, which makes sense, except you can’t use anything else except Visa to pay for Olympic tickets, and it’s the only card they accept in the Olympic village.

Which right now for me is a quite annoying as my Visa was just compromised on Monday (I don’t know how or why) but my bank called me and told it had to be cancelled. So even thou I have other credit cards, I am currently unable to buy any Olympic tickets.

Thanks Visa.

Which is a shame, as I wouldn’t mind trying to get some tickets even thou I know it’s a slim chance; would be interesting to go check out the Olympic Park.

But alas, I can’t get Olympic tickets without a functioning Visa card. And here I was thinking that everybody was allowed to try to buy Olympic tickets, but it turns out, that’s everybody with a Visa card. I don’t think that’s quite democratic.

Well the advert is correct, you do need a visa to get in

Well the advert is correct, you do need a visa to get in

 

Twitter has had its share of Olympic problems when they deleted an account of a person who was criticising NBCs Olympic coverage. Twitter had deleted the account because NBC asked them to; although it was later found out that Twitter actually suggested this for NBC. Shame on you twitter. The account has now been restored and twitter apologized.

The Olympic committee has also set quite strict restrictions on what the Olympic athletes are allowed to say about the Olympics on social media. And apparently they are not keen on people posting photos from the Olympic arenas to social media.

Even Usain Bolt has been complaining about the ‘weird, silly rules’ enforced by the Olympic committee.

And all these little things just keep piling up and start annoying me. To me, it seems that freedom has taken a backseat in the Olympics; but then again, historically the Olympics have never been without its share of controversies with politics and such.

So the sports and the festivities themselves are great, but I do feel that the whole thing has gotten out of hand; or more precisely the organizing committee has gotten out of control. That’s all.

Without an Olympic ticket this is as close to the stadium you'll get

Without an Olympic ticket this is as close to the stadium you’ll get

What do you think? Am I overreacting? Have you been watching the Olympics?

P.S: And sorry for the rant :)

4 Comments

  1. I remember when I was in London early last year, preparations for the London Olympics were pretty evident everywhere.
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Thoughts on Solo Travel in El Nido, PalawanMy Profile

    • Yeah, they started doing the preparations for the Olympics years ago it seems; back then it was annoying as the only impact on Londoners was more tube and station closures :)

  2. That’s crazy about the poor guy with Parkinsons disese – although totally believable looking at how militant the whole thing has been run! I totally agree about McDonald’s too – it’s like Malboro being the official sponsor of a cancer charity – utterly ridiculous! xxx
    Scarlett recently posted..The Scarlett Guide To… Faking A Dinner PartyMy Profile

    • Yeah, McDonalds as a sponsor is just bizarre. And yes it does feel like the whole thing was organized as a military operation, but at least the the military acted pretty cool during Olympics, they were pretty cheerful and helpful, but still.