The Olympics and the Tour

Two events, compare and contrast

Wiggins and Froome. Wiggins and Froome.
The excitement mounts! The Olympics, what can you say, mind you, are we allowed to use that word? It's fair to point out that this blog has been lukewarm from the start. In May 2008 we wrote this and not of word written all that time ago would we alter. The Olympic venues are all so distant from here it takes a London based reporter, and most of them are in London, to bring the story to life. This was done in a very dramatic way by the Spectator . The paper edition of the magazine carried an article by Nick Cohen which Fraser Nelson reviewed online. The basic point to note here is that Parliament passed the legislation making what Cohen calls ‘corporatist dystopia’ possible. Despite all the hog-wash from Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone local people were not only ignored in the negotiations but now find themselves taken for granted as well.

It's a weak excuse, not a reason for the aggressive logo protection moves, that sponsors have put large sums of money into the Olympic games and so deserve some form of protection. However, the UK public had no option, no chance to debate and the amount of public money spent on the games is an even larger sum, but who speaks for them? If 2012 is anything like the typical Olympic site then long after the sponsors have left the public will be stuck with the debts.That's the point at which the MPs who passed the original legislation which, as Cohen and Nelson point out, has allowed freedom of speech to come second to corporate greed, will have to confront the voters.

And of late even the most super-supportive types must have had their faith shaken by the string of disasters. The G4S mess being the most reported but this not alone as the Zil lanes are annoying people beyond London who care about the principles involved. Also the forensic focus on London 2012 might not have been so harsh but for one thing: Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France with his team mate Chris Froome second. So we now have a chance to compare the Tour with the Olympics. For those of you who cling to the notion that all things British are best this might be hard going, a bit like cycling up a mountain with a flat tyre.

Photographs of the Tour from time immemorial always show gendarmes on crowd control. It was the same this year, not for the French some security company giving immigrants with weak language skills four days training and then off they go. It's no good the British is best brigade wailing that the Tour is nothing like the Olympics. That's pathetic and unrealistic as all large events, of any nature, require good management. Then again looking at the Tour we see all the Gendarmes in shirt sleeves calmly doing what they do. Not for them the supra-aggressive pose, reflective sunglasses, flak-jacket and big gun. And looking to do what, shred anyone they see in a Pepsi Cola t-shirt? Tradition has it the Gallic folk always go over-the-top while the Brits stay cool, not any more.

There's something about the 2012 Olympics, something between the thuggish over reaction and hysteria on the one hand and a total inability to comprehend and act with proportion and common sense on the other. And then again a mix of the arrogant and shambolic that has, sadly become so typical of the UK. Still, soon be all over! But I fancy the sales of bicycles thanks to the likes of Bradley Wiggins and the Sky team will soar. We should also remember that Team Sky is connected to the Murdoch fiefdom, this will annoy the liberal elite, another reason to cheer! Also there something wonderful about a cycling team that employs a German with the name Christian Knees, he finished in 82nd place.

Footnote -
The fight back begins? It was unrealistic of the games organisers to think that the aggressive approach would not be challenged and the betting company, Paddy Power has won a battle to treat the Olympics in the same way it deals with all other sporting events. Also Lord Coe when interviewed showed scant understanding of the issues involved, small wonder the games people are now on the back foot.