Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drinking the Olympic kool-aid with Boris ...

(Above: a few images from Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia. By golly that fascist kool aid is tasty).

Boris Johnson, mayor of London, seems like an amiable twit, and it seems equally fair to say that What does a bike race have to do with the economy? is a most amiable form of twittery.

Johnson goes into an extended rhapsody about the meaning of the Olympic games, and manages to sound like Adolf Hitler just before the Berlin Olympics:

As you listen, you realise that these performances were the result not just of physical genius, but also of colossal intellectual and emotional effort - years of self-discipline. The Olympics, in other words, is about character. It's about the will. Of course, as Baron de Coubertin was at pains to point out, it is not all about winning. But if you want to win, then you need to work. That is the basic message of the Olympics.

Okay, there's a dollar in the Godwin's Law Triumph of the Will swear jar, but at least it allowed the pond to run a few snaps from Leni Riefensthal's Olympia, which usually produces a bump right up there with the Lara Bingle bump.

Every four years the same sort of blather is dragged out of the closet, and young people are invited to learn:

Young people are going to see it demonstrated, before their eyes, on the grandest possible stage and in the most vivid and exciting way. Of course you need all sorts of things to have a chance of success. You need opportunity. You need people to take an interest in you and coach you.

Sensible young people will hopefully read Squatting in the village and naked lunches: athletes come clean on Olympics debauchery, and learn about the most vivid and exciting opportunities that might come their way in an Olympics:

As the curtain falls on more events, the action accelerates. "Athletes are extremists," Solo says. "When they're training, it's laser focus. When they go out for a drink, it's 20 drinks. With a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you want to build memories, whether it's sexual, partying or on the field. I've seen people having sex right out in the open."

This does create supply and demand issues:

It was in 1992 that the image of a celibate Games began to flicker when it was reported that the Barcelona Games' organisers had ordered in prophylactics like pizza. Then, at the 2000 Sydney Games, 70,000 condoms weren't enough, prompting a second order of 20,000 and a new standing order of 100,000 condoms per Olympics.

Yes young people, remember the Olympics isn't just triumph of the will, it's triumph of the fuck and the one night stand.

But do go on sweet Boris, about that will to win:

But you also need to understand that success - in any field - means drive, the will to win, resolve to do things that are dull, repetitive, uncool and very often painful and exhausting.
Yes, of course the Olympics is about legacy, sustainability, diversity, inclusivity, posterity and multiculturality. But it is really about competition between human beings; the glory of winning, the pathos of losing, and the toil that can make the difference. That is the grand moral of the Games, and a very good one, too. It is also the key to economic growth.

Say what? The key to economic growth?

Oh come on Boris, you're not pretending that the Olympics is a paean to individual effort, and entrepreneurial free market activities?

Yes, yes, you are:

As you listen, you realise that these performances were the result not just of physical genius, but also of colossal intellectual and emotional effort - years of self-discipline. The Olympics, in other words, is about character. It's about the will. Of course, as Baron de Coubertin was at pains to point out, it is not all about winning. But if you want to win, then you need to work. That is the basic message of the Olympics.

If you want to win, then you need to work.

Surely that should have read, if you want to win, then you need a government grant.

Well actually if you want to stage an Olympics, you need a bloody big government grant. The Olympics site happily notes that the National Lottery has kicked in £2.2 billion for facilities, and a tidy £66 million for the Paralympic Games. The Greater London Authority is contributing a handsome £925 million, so that any bright eyed bushy-tailed entrepreneur can learn the basic message of the Olympics.

Privatise the profits, and socialise the losses, organise the junkets and have a bloody good time, but make sure you also blather on about legacy benefits, and improved facilities, and make sure no one visits towns suffering from Olympic blight, with the said facilities fallen into disrepair and disuse.

Meanwhile, if you want to win as an athlete, make sure you get a nice little earner, a government stipend. That'll guarantee you heaps of support, trainers, coaches, scientists, all armed with neat state of the art gear and dedicated to helping you succeed.

It also means you've got something to fall back on if the advertising revenue drops off, or if your sport doesn't attract liar firms wanting to use your reputation to explain how the bulk sugar, salt and other crap in cereals offer you an Iron man capacity to succeed.

Yep, take a leaf out of Australia's book.

What better role model for socialist sport than East Germany and the Soviets:

To reboot the country’s athletic program, the government decided to create an academy modeled in part on the sports factories of the Eastern Bloc. Throughout the Cold War, the Soviets and other Warsaw Pact countries saw sporting events as an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of the communist way of life. Nearly every child was tested at an early age, and those who showed particular promise were shipped to the academies, where they trained year-round. (Unfortunately, the athletes were often given performance-enhancing drugs, sometimes without their knowledge.) These programs were funded and closely monitored by the central government.
AIS hoped to capture the intensity and success of the Soviet academies, without going to the same excesses. The idea was simple: Get the best coaches and the best athletes together on a year-round basis, without any distractions, and hope that athletic magic would result. (here)

Yep, Australia has shown the world the way forward.

East German socialism, and luckily the British have learned the lesson well:

Australia’s success has been accompanied by a boom in investment in sports science around the world. The UK, in the run-up to the London Olympics, has been spending about $160 million a year on UK Sport, its own high-performance athletic program. Canada’s “Own the Podium” program spent nearly $100 million in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Qatar has established the Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence in Doha, hiring several AIS alums to help develop the program. And China, hewing to the state-controlled model, has enrolled 360,000 students in 3,000 sports schools across the country.

UK Sport? Why it's the next best thing to East Germany, and it has a snazzy .gov website here proudly boasting about the bundle of goodies it's dropping on British athletes.

The pond resolved not to write about the Olympics, but really what to do when confronted by amiable simple-minded trolling by Boris?

If the key to economic growth is the Olympics, then the future is socialism. And who can argue with that?

Well maybe not. Maybe the security cock-up at the London Olympics suggests the best way forward for the canny private sector. Replace the government, get the contract, fuck up, and thumb your nose as you walk out the door with the moola, while the hapless government brings in the army to sort things out.

Will that change? Not bloody likely, as you can read in Privatising security set to increase despite Olympics row.

These days G4S has its very own tag for the Guardian's coverage of its assorted scandals, but happily Australians sleep much more safely at night knowing that the company helps run Australian prisons, and delivers security to the country in a firmly privatised socialistic way. Oh there might be the odd squawk of concern and alarm - as in Deal set despite prison firm's 'lethal' past - but if you want to be a winner, as an athlete or as a business, make sure you get your paws on some of that government moola.

And that, thanks to the twittery of dear sweet Boris, is the lesson for the day.

The key to economic growth, and personal athletic success, is a government grant to do stuff. Or not, if the mood and the whim takes you, and actually organising the security is too tricky.

What do we want? East Germany! When do we want it? Now, or at least until the London Olympics are over ...

And the next time you read some tosser like Gerard Henderson or Campbell Newman going on about lavish government subsidy for writers, their festivals, and other artists and their activities, see if you can find a single murmur from these wankers about the money shovelled down the throats of athletes so they can shave a micro second off and win a glittering medal. Or at least get to burn through a dozen condoms ...

By golly Boris, you've got a problem with your pitch.

Even Chris Berg thinks the Olympics are creepy, proposing that the Games symbolism is steeped in fundamentalism, militarism and fascism, as you can read in Let the cult begin. You can't even get the IPA on side!

The Olympics do nothing to achieve global harmony. They arguably work against it. If harmony was the goal, athletes would compete as individuals, not on behalf of nations.
Do the Olympic ideologists honestly believe the nonsense they spout? The Games are a taxpayer-funded cash cow for all involved, and that's probably motive enough for many. Yet Olympism offers a sense of mission. It's not like the World Cup or the Commonwealth Games. The Olympics is a cause. It is a full-blown belief system.
Rogge said in his UN speech he wanted to place ''sport at the service of mankind''. Maybe he does. But right now, sport is serving the weird ideology of the Olympics much more than humanity.

Truly the world is a wondrous place, and passing stuffed and comprehensively fucked as well.

Is that the grand moral of the Games, Boris, and a very good one too?

And now enough already about the Games. Henceforth the pond's lips are zipped ...

(Below: but not before offering a few more images for the discreet gentleman reader).


  1. Christ, I'm agreeing with Chris Berg. I feel dirty.

    1. The fact that I can agree with Berg on one or two things (Olympics, immigration, are the only two I can think of) at least makes me feel that my objection to the rest of his blinkered ideological garbage isn't just prejudice

  2. I think, so we can all feel better, that the broken clock twice a day rule can be invoked in the matter of Berg, though it's never easy guessing when the broken clock might next be telling the right time ...


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