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Poor old Robert Mugabe. Do you know what that guy needs? An Olympics. Harare 2012, he really missed a trick there. A well-run Games and nothing else matters. Put on a show, throw up a couple of impressive buildings and the world is your friend.

The road home from Beijing is lined with wide-eyed converts who've seen the light on totalitarianism. “China has set the bar very high,” Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, said. “There are some things that London will not be able to compare to, or equal - such as the ability to bring hundreds of thousands of volunteers to different sites.”…  Seguir leyendo »

The Olympic Games are built on a series of fictions, but one myth towers above all others. It is that the four-yearly festival is a bastion of meritocracy, where success is determined by hard work and talent rather than privilege. This is central to the Games's global appeal and is particularly powerful because it chimes with common sense. Is not sport about the objective measurement of ability, leaving little room for entrenched privilege? Has not the Olympics been the traditional arena for the underdog?

Well, no.

Look beyond the propaganda and you will find that 58 per cent of Great Britain's gold-medal winners at Athens in 2004 went to independent schools.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Sebastian Coe, chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games & Paralympic Games. Response to 'London is getting...' (THE GUARDIAN, 15/06/07):

George Monbiot's suggestion that "evictions of the poor, along with mentally ill people and beggars, are one of the [Olympic] games' best-established traditions" can't be allowed to stand without a response (London is getting into the Olympic spirit - by kicking out the Gypsies, June 12).How can he claim that "everything we have been told about the Olympic legacy turns out to be bunkum" - five years before the games have even taken place, and five years before we will see the start of what we plan to be a lasting legacy?…  Seguir leyendo »

By George Monbiot (THE GUARDIAN, 12/06/07):

Everything we have been told about the Olympic legacy turns out to be bunkum. The games are supposed to encourage us to play sport; they are meant to produce resounding economic benefits and help the poor. It's all untrue. As the evictions in London begin, a new report shows that the only certain Olympic legacy is a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.Both Lord Coe and Tessa Jowell, the sports secretary, like the boosters for every city to have bid for the Olympics, have claimed that the games will lever us off our sofas and turn us into a nation of athletes.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Ian Jack (THE GUARDIAN, 09/06/07):

When the Olympics last came to London, in 1948, their advertisements showed an easily understood combination of the Olympic rings, Big Ben and an ancient statue of a Greek discus thrower (a Roman marble copy of the original Greek bronze, which was and is still one of the British Museum's most prized possessions).

The games were an event rather than a brand. "Logo" existed only as a prefix in the Shorter Oxford: "logocracy, a community or system of government in which words are the ruling powers ... logotype, a type containing a word, or two or more letters, cast in one piece."…  Seguir leyendo »

By Ken Livingstone, mayor of London (THE GUARDIAN, 09/03/07):

There is no space to rebut all the inaccuracies in Simon Jenkins' article, but the claims that the Olympic stadium will cost £630m, and the London Evening Standard's latest invention of a £10bn bill, are just false (Jowell and Coe have been duped by the biggest overselling scam in history, March 2).The games have already unlocked billions in new transport investment right across London; they have made the massive regeneration project centred on Stratford and going south to the Thames deliverable when it was not before. This offers unparalleled new opportunities to some of the most deprived communities in the country, bringing with it 40,000 new homes and 50,000 new jobs.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Jenkins (THE TIMES, 28/01/07):

There is only one way to save the 2012 Olympics from six years of agony, expense and public outrage. It is to abandon the idea of a Stratford encampment and integrate the Games into London’s existing sporting life. This year is the last opportunity to do so.

The Commons culture committee was right last week to insist that the soaring cost of the Games be borne by the Treasury. Gordon Brown knew when he agreed to the bid in 2004 that this meant state underwriting. It is inexcusable for 10% of all lottery grants to philanthropic, arts, heritage and sports charities to be creamed off for six years to pay for three weeks of minority sports in 2012.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Tony Blair, the British prime minister (THE GUARDIAN, 23/01/07):

Exactly 2,012 days from today, the London Olympic games will get under way. I know that the opening ceremony on July 27 2012 will spark the same sense of excitement and joy that erupted across the country when we heard that, against all the odds, London's bid had been successful. Everything leads to, and culminates in, a glorious festival of sport for Olympians and Paralympians. But it cannot end there. The enduring success of the games is measured in the years that follow, not in the time it takes for them to take place.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian's architecture critic (THE GUARDIAN, 13/12/06):

No one really knows how much the London Olympics will cost - not Sir Roy McNulty, head of the grimly named Olympic Delivery Authority, nor Tessa Jowell, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, nor even the mayor of London. Common sense tells us to assume several billion more than the current figure. Onwards and domewards.To a national chorus of low-level grumbling, this lumbering, bullying, ill-tempered and overpoliticised roadshow will gasp towards completion, with a final hugely expensive sprint, run by relays of cheap imported labour. The games themselves will be short-lived, of course, but an event many, if not all, of us will whoop at in front of giant TV screens in smokeless pubs or, with take-aways on our laps, in the privacy of homes taxed to the rafters for the big event.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Hugh Muir (THE GUARDIAN, 29/11/06):

In the hours after the UK won the right to host the Olympics, Jacques Rogge turned to Ken Livingstone and Tessa Jowell and reflected on the positive headlines. "Enjoy it," the president of the International Olympic Committee told them. "That's probably the last positive coverage you'll have between now and 2012." Isn't it depressing that just 16 months have passed and yet all who feared the Olympic bid might get bogged down in a quagmire of whingeing have been proven right?

Here's a summary of the issues thus far. The financing of the games is going to bankrupt us.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Simon Jenkins (THE GUARDIAN, 24/11/06):

King Thibaw, the last monarch of Burma, adored his white elephant to distraction. The beast was so rare that its capture caused national rejoicing and it never left the royal palace. Its tusks were studded with gems, and sprays of diamonds covered its forehead. A gold plaque listing noble titles hung round its neck. Gold umbrellas protected it from the sun, and over its gilded trough rose a great mirror to reflect its majestic beauty. No riches were too precious for the elephant, for on its prosperity rested the good fortune of the king.

There was only one sensible question for the Commons select committee on the Olympics to ask the games minister, Tessa Jowell, last Tuesday.…  Seguir leyendo »

By Alice Miles (THE TIMES, 22/11/06):

I am passionate about this! cried Tessa Jowell as she gave evidence on the London Olympics to MPs yesterday. And I thought, oh no, give me politicians who are not passionate; give me politicians who can add up.

Like the Chancellor. I bet Gordon Brown is worried and furious about these Games. The extent to which the Treasury trusts the Olympic planners is clear from the fact that they have demanded a contingency fund of 60 per cent of the budget for cost-overruns, compared with a normal construction contract which would require just 20 per cent.…  Seguir leyendo »