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An Obligatory and Pointless Debate About the Olympics

Are you excited about the Olympics, or is it just a stupid thing that no one really cares about?

It's the moral tussle over the sports tournament that everyone's talking about – but will the 2012 London Olympics really unite us all in the way that only a corporate-sponsored athletics event can, or is it just an excuse for foreigners to come over here and run amok as they gleefully bogwash our economy in the process? In the spirit of generating a constructive discourse and increasing our page view stats, we created two fake journalists who don't really exist to argue the toss for money that (also) does not exist. Whose side will you come down on? Truthfully, we couldn't give a shit. All that matters is that when you read something on the internet that you hate, we'll be here to hold your hand and whisper softly in your ear: "It's OK, baby – it's the world that's wrong."


by Simon Parris

I remember watching the announcement that we were to host the Olympics on the TV, while wearing my "Hang The Bloody Games" T-shirt with the Olympic rings culture-jammed into a noose. Upon hearing that we had won, I looked despairingly at the pitiable fools in Trafalgar Square. Just as the camera zoomed in on one particularly odious twerp wearing a hat with barbells on it, I turned to my wife and said: “No good will come of this, you know.” I took more than a little pride the next day when I learned that London had been attacked by terrorist bombers. I was proved right then, and I remain right now: The games are a disaster, and will continue to be a disaster. It is widely known that the British cannot organise a piss-up in a brewery. There was the farce over Wembley, the farce over the Millennium Dome, that statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square isn't very good, and the platform lengthening at Tooting Bec Station last summer overran by three weeks. And yet we hope to organise an entire Olympic Games? Pfffft… We're the world's only banana monarchy, and now the world is going to see us with egg on our face. Alright, so everything has come in on time and under budget so far, but it wouldn't surprise me if they've cut so many corners to do so that the stadium falls down after one particularly forceful cough from Usain Bolt. That is, if anyone ever gets there. We all know that London's public transport is hopelessly oversubscribed anyway. Can you imagine how you're going to get a seat on the tube at Marble Arch for the next six months? Short answer: you won't. Some German will. They're probably buying up deckchairs to put towels on to put on the tube seats right now. Can you imagine, being on the 12:45 out of Liverpool Street, just minding your own business, doing the crossword in the Telegraph, when all of a sudden 700 American tourists jump aboard and start trying to tell you about how much bigger their cars are and how they saved our bacon in World War Two? You can now that I've mentioned it? Well good. Because that, essentially, is what we're faced with. Unfortunately, our nightmare doesn't end with logistics. The games have rather predictably been hijacked by the 'right-on' PC Islington trendy brigade, who have long since telegraphed news of our laughing stock status all over the world. First, there was the logo: a bunch of lamentable squiggles that cost a half a million pounds to produce even though my five-year-old could do better given a box of crayons and a long, boozy ad-exec lunch at the Oxo Tower restaurant. Then there are the mascots. Wendleturd and Pendleturd or whatever they're called. The less said about these risque, pendulous appendages the better. Suffice it to say that they would have Sigmund Freud reaching for his dictionary of rhyming slang. Though upon consideration, they really do sum up the whole thing very well: they're all cock and no balls. Because they look like weird penises. No doubt the opening ceremony will continue in much the same vein, as the PC types tell us that Dizzee Rascal must play his ethnic hip-hop music over the top of the national anthem while the Queen looks on dispiritedly, and we are treated to five hundred dancers in Lycra bodysuits interpreting 'global diversity' by whipping each other with multicoloured ribbons, while some junior minister in a far corner chucks your taxes into a massive furnace at the rate of a million quid a minute. It's all very well to say 'let them have their fun', but the problem for Olympic objectors like me is that even if we wanted to, we simply can't get away from any of this. We're going to have to spend the whole of August watching some witless Sky News 'colour' reporter doing vox pops with middle-aged women who've painted their faces to look like the Union Jack, asking: 'Are you excited?', and then they'll be going: 'Ooh, we came all the way from West Bromwich, and we've been camping overnight just to get a place in front of the marathon.'


And then the TV reporter will smile witlessly, move on and ask someone else if they're excited, and the whole process will just start again, this time with some ghastly tweens from Godalming who've come up to watch the equestrian events with their over-indulgent dad. And then she'll turn back to the studio and go: 'Well as you can see, everyone's very excited.' And then Adrian Chiles will be back in the studio making some remark about how excited he is to see people from West Bromwich being excited. And yes, everyone's very bloody excited, aren't they? We're all so excited about watching some roided-up Jamaicans run for ten seconds and we've all developed a sudden lust for the heptathlon, haven't we? Oooh, it's all just soooo exciting, isn't it? It's just so bloody exciting. Exciting exciting exciting. Well it's not.

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by Matthew Heffer

They said it couldn't be done. The naysayers – and there are always plenty of naysayers – said that a British Olympics would be an expensive farce, contributing nothing to uplifting our society. Well, I should imagine those naysayers are eating humble pie today whenever they go to Stratford. Where once there stood a massive shithole, a crumbling eyesore populated by the sort of poverty-blighted dregs of society who couldn't even afford to visit the many other shithole neighbourhoods local to East London, now there is a massive shopping mall obscuring that massive shithole, and most of the poor have been evicted (or else can no longer afford to live there). It's called 'urban regeneration', naysayers: look it up some time. Seven years after I and thousands like me stood in Trafalgar Square, our faces painted with Union Jacks, me wearing a hat with styrofoam barbells on it, Britain now has a chance to show itself proudly to the world, and say: “We are Britain. You may remember us from colonialism, the Iraq War or the Harry Potter film series. Hi. How have you been since we left your country?” People say we're a nation in the grip of an identity crisis, but when you see that opening ceremony celebrating the very best of British culture, and Dizzee Rascal gets onstage to lay down some flow over the national anthem accompanied by Adele, Little Mix, Brian May and Susan Boyle, you'll know what it means to be proud to be British in 2012. Even the most hardened naysayers won't be able to bite back the emotion when they see the Olympic flag raised above London, with its distinctive five rings, its distinctive Lloyds TSB emblem, It's distinctive EDF energy icon, it's distinctive Golden Arches™, its distinctive Gatorade croc and its magnificent Nike Swoosh™. The Olympics are all about recognising the little guy. Not the little guy who owns a burger stand, of course – he will be escorted from the premises should he turn up, as McDonald's have bought the rights to sell meat products and if he wanted in he should've coughed up $50 million. But the little guy from Puerto Rico who has just won a competition sponsored by Visa for tickets to the javelin finals, who can sit happily next to the little guy from Belarus who has sent away 50 tokens from his kids' Happy Meals to win his tickets, joined together in a global family of brand awareness. This is the stuff Olympic dreams are made of – companies achieving brand recognition through strategic partnerships with global events in order to give consumers lifestyle-appropriate content that generates medium-term product loyalty. It is a beautiful dream of nation speaking unto nation, yet still, even as the world is about to turn up on our doorstep, there remains the sound of backbiting. Well, cheer up, gloomsters. As a nation, we owe ourselves a party – hang the cost. After all, I don't need to remind you that we've had some very gloomy times in the past few years. First Barbs leaves Eastenders. Then they kill off Pat Butcher and there was that cot death baby-swap thing, too. And the economy's also fucked, so what we Britons need more than anything, is to forget all our troubles by watching ourselves win three medals in cycling and four in rowing. It may seem expensive, but believe me, when we see those medals, it will all be worth it: those fuckers fetch an absolute ton down at Cash 4 My Gold.

Previously: An Obligatory and Pointless Look Back at 2011