Saturday, 28 July 2012
Nevertheless, after I'd listened to the lighting of the cauldron (I didn't stay up to watch, but have done since then on YouTube), I lay in bed and thought, "Yes, that was a great show. I'm glad I watched the bulk of it. But do I approve?" Do I approve of the arms race of Olympic openings? The continual effort to do bigger and better than anything before - epitomised by having the torch brought by a special effects speed boat driven by a millionaire footballer and ending up with seven young athletes lighting a succession of "petals" which came together to create the "cauldron".
Once, a long time ago, there were games in ancient Greece where people competed for nothing more than a garland of herbs. (We're priding ourselves on our gold medals weighing twice as much as China's in 2008 - get a life!) Once the Olympics were strictly for amateurs. Now our athletes are highly rewarded professionals. Once a single athlete ran into a stadium and lit the Olympic torch alone.
It's sad, I think, that corporate sponsorship - "the Cocalympics" - and the entertainment industry have such a stranglehold on the Olympic movement that no one has the bottle to say, "Enough is enough. Money is needed more elsewhere. We do not have to be bigger and better." I agreed with Trevor Nelson on the BBC commentary team who, during the parade of the athletes, said something like, "This, to me, is always the best part of the ceremony - seeing the national athletes who have trained so hard for so long, coming into the stadium." That is what the Games are about. Let's have less of the competitive corporate razzamatazz, and more simplicity.