LONDON 2012: Signs that we may be about to get the Shambolympics

Boris’s booming voice and ebullient charging about can’t hide the reality of what could so easily go wrong.

I’ve been in London talking to medical consultants and generally checking out what’s going on behind the scenes of the Olympic build-up. I’ve received several tips in recent weeks about widespread evidence of shambolic organisation and general loss of plot when it comes to the Games, so I thought I’d take a look for myself, and make some enquiries.

Although it’s being billed as a Best of British opportunity, at just about every main arrivals point, EDF has bought dominant outdoor sites affirming its goal to make the London Games more brilliantly lit than any other. EDF is a French company, so it must be doing very well out of the venue if it can afford this kind of spend. It’s quite hard to spot truly British companies anywhere in the list of sponsors; but then I suppose if you sell off the family silver, that’s what happens. In a decade or so, London will be chosen as the site for a global medical exhibition, and no doubt at that time the sponsors will mainly be American insurance groups.

As it is, I met some medics who will be on call for neurological injuries to competitors in the various events. A couple told me that the folks asking for help seemed “rather hysterical” and “a bit headless”.

In the area of transport to the Olympics – that’s about the only really British bit – the overall impression given to somebody landing from abroad is of an infrastructure that is woefully insufficient to cope with a huge expected increase in visitors. In trying to renew and enlarge all the signage to do with the games, what the organisers have set off is a desire by all visitors even now to follow these routes and take a look at the Village. The result is that the Tubes, trains and buses are already packed to a degree at least 20% above normal. But all the posters and pa announcements consist of headlines (and the ubiquitous Boris himself) politely suggesting that, as it’s going to be a horrendous nightmare for Londoners, why don’t you, um, walk or, er, not come in at all? Not exactly practical or encouraging advice. “Don’t get caught out,” burbles the ebullient Mayor, as if the tube system might be about to freeze up completely.

In turn, road routes are being designated and tested to allow for unhindered VIP movement (“Boris’s mates” as some cynical observers suggest) and these activities too are already causing backlogs or backups around the South Circular in general, and throughout Blackheath in particular.

But much of the roads stuff is anecdotal: the hard evidence of running late (and headless chicken patch-and-make-do) is to be had among those professions temporarily benefiting from it. This is especially true of my old profession, media communications.

As a culture, four of our most pressing contemporary weaknesses are poor deadline discipline, an obsession with process, a fear of great big ideas, and poor interpretation of such data as might be collected. In the work now being done at the last minute by designers, copywriters, promotional experts, digital agencies, marketing advisers, and advertising suppliers, examples of all four syndromes abound.

“It’s a bit like the last weeks before the Millennium Dome opened,” said one senior agency manager, “in that there is panic and daft ideas, but no sense of direction or coordination. The satire about all this on the telly is, sadly, an understatement of the anarchic reality.”

“Everything is last-minute, half-baked and having money thrown at it,” said another, “As with most things like this, 90% of the overspend occurs in the last 10% of the build-up. It has more than a slight whiff of disaster about it.”

“Not much evidence of thought in the brief we were given,” said a design supplier, “and the more you thought about it, the more obvious it became it was a waste of time and money. They are spending and wasting money like water.”

I am told that Roddy Doyle (handling the filmic recording and direction side) is at the end of his tether trying to deal with ignorant ‘management’ described as “far more interested in copyright and money deals than they are with documentary quality”. The whole idea of a documentary about the preparations has been ditched because of endless legal wrangles about who would own it, and fears among the more assiduous arse-coverers that such a record will merely present, for posterity and post mortems, clear evidence of the level of shambles involved.

The rehearsals for the opening theme – ‘Green and pleasant land’ – have been hampered by committee changes, poor audio, and the largely unpaid, amateur nature of the volunteers taking part. Tuesday night (10th July) saw another run-through; it didn’t allay many fears.

In May 2005, my previous site Notbornyesterday made itself very unpopular by saying no Olympic venue had ever really made money or obtained measurable investment benefit from hosting the Games; and I predicted that the then £4.8bn would rapidly get out of control…especially as its patron was the financially incontinent boozer’s friend, Tessa Jowell. So it has proved. Later I suggested that the sailing Olympics off the south and south-west coasts would create chaos for anyone going by car. I still think this will be the case, given that Nimby has, predictably, diluted most of the upgrading plans. The ‘train alternative’ route to the coasts is nowhere near capable of taking up the demand that will be created once the roads seize up.

It would be nice to think that Britain might turn a corner as a result of organising the Olympic Games. But far more likely is an acceleration of our slide into insolvency…and a concerted effort by the political class to hide the real coast of putting on the event. My hunch is that it will be very wet, millions of visitors will go back with the impression of an overcrowded and disorganised Britain, but that it might be a blip of concocted pride for a few idiots to get a warm feeling about…untila few weeks later, when the tidal wave of euromeltdown rolls in. We shall see.

64 thoughts on “LONDON 2012: Signs that we may be about to get the Shambolympics

  1. I think I’ll stay over here in the countryside, thank you very much.

    And did anyone catch the surprise announcement that there are some tickets available for the 100m final. Hmm, I wonder how much they are, and how quickly they find their way onto ebay?

  2. We will have to wait and see, personally I think the big story after LO2012 will be “what a shit up of an airport is Heathrow hey”

    Anyway Ive been to 1992, 2000, 2004 and to be honest they were all organised chaos. who ever thought of having the Olympics in 40 degrees in 2004 should have been shot on sight, but it looked good on telly! even shit looks better in the sunshine.

    I imagine a lot will depend on the weather, if its nice-ish then all will be well, if its the wellies Olympics then who knows. Sydney actually had quite a lot of rain around but its not like British rain that drizzles all day long.

    Honestly I don’t think you can measure the Olympics on a balance sheet, its more a insurance premium payment where they send you a stuffed Meerkat for signing up. The Olympics is now a global ritual, so too the World cup for all their absurdities and their are many, you would rather have it than not.

    on 27th July London becomes a triple Olympic city, that says something.The creative destruction to come might be eased by an idea of 2012. Dont doubt the human capacity for renewal. Britain has been around for a long time 2012 wont be its last Olympics.

    • Hope it bloody is. Whole thing is nothing but an excuse for multi national banks and fast food chains of questionable ethics to try and flog us more crap by sponsoring an event run by another bunch of crooks. And the fact that these VIP’S are going to turn up and run around in their own vip lanes enjoy a load of free crap and tickets and generally lord it over the population makes me sick.

  3. An American pal of mine asked my advice about bringing his family over to London for the games. I implored him to stay as far away as possible. Not fully believing me, he did a little research himself; hotels, travel, you know the basics….. then thanked me for saving him from a fortnight of expensive misery.

    • Damn right.
      Got to cross the pond myself on family business.
      Leaving it till September.
      I’m sure I’ll get a good deal on flights then as well.

  4. If it’s a cock up at Heathrow,blame my stepson.If you manage to get past the Brentford flyover,and can get no further,blame Goldman Sachs’ alumnus ,P. Deighton. If you want to sue,LOCOG’s general legal eagle,learnt her trade at that august institution.

  5. Look at it this way: some twerp on a bus in Birmingham sees some other twerp having a crafty puff on an e-fag and all of a sudden we have half the specialist rozzers in the country down there waiting for the other half to turn up and a major motorway closed, and all this is about bloody Birmingham where a direct nuclear strike would count as gentrification!

    Now fast forward to London and the olympics. The security there is going to be pervasive, invasive, paranoid and omnipresent with an IQ that of the stupidest member divided by the number of security men actually present. Pointing a camera that isn’t a poxy little point’n’click at anything will be suspicious. Standing still for ten minutes will be suspicious. EVERYTHING will be a suspicious act to these nitwits, which will cause absolute pandemonium all the damn time and convince most thinking beings that being a very long way away from Londonistan for the whole duration is absolutely the very best thing that they could do.

    As for economic benefits to a place after the Olympics have been held there, go have a look at Greece. See any huge economic benefits? Nope, nor do I; the whole thing’s a load of hype and fluff.

  6. There’s a hilarious spoof currently showing on BBC America about the organising team managing the Games, called “Twenty Twelve”, which shows British bumbling bureaucracy at its worst but one suspects it’s embarrassingly close to reality.

  7. The potentially most cringeworthy part will be the opening ceremony. Is it the case (can’t remember where I heard it) that there will be film of the Queen requesting 007 to go on a mission to open the Olympics – cut to live sequence of Daniel Craig in action in the stadium. Throw in a bit of the Spice Girls and some Morris dancing and some fireworks and that’ll be the highlights.

    I have just started watching the official film (and yes it is made as almost an arthouse film) of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. The opening ceremony was incredibly simple: teams walked thru’ as per usual, followed by some balloons, a big gun, lighting the flame, then some fighter jets making the 5 rings with their vapour trail. Nice and simple…….

  8. Someone I know is a driver on the underground, & he told me that if the stations get too crowded, they will have to close them,(people being pushed too near the edge of the platform). This has already happened at a station near Chiswick, & apparently gridlock has already set in on roads coming in from the west.
    On the other hand, an optimist I know who is one of the volunteers has assured me that all will be well.
    It depends if you are a bottle half-full or half-empty!

    • I spotted that in the telegraph too. 17,000 army to be deployed. Camerots reducing the army to 82,000.

      That makes 21 percent of the army attending to the olympics !
      Enjoy the games lads, make a nice change from hotter more dangerous climes hopefully.

  9. Why did Blair pull out everything to win the Olympics to London? To show the French that he is even more vainglorious than they are?
    Remember the pictures: like Andy Murray hitting a backhand pass. It may have won the game, but at what cost and to what avail?
    Fool Britannia!

  10. pc britain can no longer organise the proverbial piss up in a brewery. it was always doomed to be a poor show and a rip off off by the politicians and their mates. boobus britanicus as a whole couldn’t give a rodents rectum about the business as verified by the uk rep for time doing a special on the event. not one londoner welcomed the games. i told my hk friends to give it a miss and come later..

    sorry about the lack of caps but i am having to type one handed having broken an arm today

      • it’s my left arm, i’m the idiot. slipped coming out the shower. the cleaning lady had removed the bath mats for washing.

      • @OAH: “…the cleaning lady had removed the bath mats for washing”

        Tch tch. Below stairs staff are not what they used to be ;-)

    • Any excuse for the on-going decline in presentation standards – just press the Caps Lock with the working hand, select the letter for capitalising and press it, then press Caps Lock again to toggle that function off.

      (Hope that sounded sympathetic enough ? OK, maybe not sympathetic, but certainly helpful – that’s helpful in an “I’m from IT Support, I’m here to help” kind of way.)

  11. I think it would probably be the best thing for the country if we scrapped the Olympic Games and just had a House of Commons version of Its A Knockout instead with the usual mud slinging and knockabout slapstick that is typical of the House, but with real mud and water. I suspect the Queen would probably enjoy watching that far more, I know I would.

    • @zoompad

      Now that is a corker of an idea. Just think of the bloody silly costumes we could require the various obnoxious morons to wear as they wallowed, slipped and slithered their way to ignobal defeat, again and again.

      Not to mention the billions of pounds which could be saved and addedd to the international aid pot for countries like India to benefit from.

      • Who needs any new ‘bloody silly costumes’ ? Have you seen the gear worn by Black Rod and the Sergeant at Arms, to say nothing of the Peers & Peeresses next door ?

        Ken Clarke in his Lord Chancellor’s get-up is straight out of the Mikado.

  12. As far as what we will see in the MSMedia ir will be pronounced a success/victory. So no on. e will be held accountable for anything. Just like the Americans in Vietenam.

  13. Nothing sums up the Olympic Spirit more for me than a surface to air Missile battery on top of a council estate. It is so much of nonsense to watch what is now professional sports people playing games. Remember when they only got together at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics? Now they seem to have half a dozen world championships a year. It’s commercial bollocks on an Epic scale. Apparently there is a sign in stores which says “We are happy to announce we only accept Visa”. There is an official beer, a Dutch one. One of the main sponsors is McDonalds as is Coca Cola. It’s like a sick joke. I can see all those athletes getting their big mac after the triathlon washed down with some Coke. As all great Athletes do. Harumph! I might go and watch some bicyclists pedal about Surrey if it’s a nice day.

      • Don’t even get me started on the rumours that the All Blacks have signed a sponsorship deal to have a corporate logo on the Black Jersey. That for me will be the last straw. I’ll have a proper epi

    • True! Very little is left of the original Olympic spirit. Sick joke…not funny anymore.
      As a Greek, i feel so sad of what Olympics have become.
      Don’t get me wrong – this is no blamegame for London or any other city – even during Athens 2004, i chose to leave Athens :-(

      And yes, as other Sloggers posted above, Athens 2004 was a financial disaster. Greek crony capitalism led to big spendings and mismanagement.
      Keep in mind an two extra factors though:
      1) Greek Olympics were the first after 9-11. The security costs sky-rocketed (American, British, German, Israeli suppliers become a lot richer…some Greek kickback receivers too).
      2) There where so many vitriolic articles on US and EU MSM (UK included) that a lot of foreign visitors were afraid to come. As a result the number of visitors was half of what was planned back in 1996 – half the income too of course.

      • The joke of course being, that you would have had more chance of being killed via an aeroplane crash, than by being killed by a “terrorist”

        “The US has raised repeated concerns about security at the London Olympics and is preparing to send up to 1,000 of its agents, including 500 from the FBI, to provide protection for America’s contestants and diplomats, the Guardian has learned.”

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/nov/13/us-worried-london-olympics-security-2012

        What legal powers do these American security have?

      • Legal powers? Do they need them? They just “demand” that they run their own independent show. At least that’s how it goes in little countries like mine. Maybe UK can stand up on this – i’d love to see that but i wouldn’t count on it…

      • legal powers? obama says to cameron ‘bend over boy’ and cameron asks his batman to give him the ky jelly.

      • You can be 100% sure the US security folks will have a licence to kill when they’re here for the Olympics.

  14. I didn’t decide to get out of London for the Olympics for no good reason.
    I hope LHR UKBA creates chaos, but I somehow think hoards of people will be waved through with little more than a glance at their credentials.

      • Sorry, messed up above.Posted at the wrong reply :-(

        Nick, good point.As corporal Jones used to say, “they don’t like it up’em!” and neither do I, so I’ll give it all a big miss. ;-)

    • The games happen during the annual Silly Season. Parliament’s in recess and the media get desperate for news stories. Travel chaos/mismanagement is a gift to them.

      I fully expect it to be used to justify the sort of politically ‘difficult’ decisions that need to be made regarding London’s airport capacity.

  15. The Olympics is getting old hat in its format,they should change the music. Maybe they could hold the next one in the Antarctic, that would be more fun!

  16. The Olympics is one of those events, like General Elections, when there is a mainstream media narrative.

    This mainstream media narrative is that the Olympics are good.

    It’s only slightly less oily a story than their narrative about David Cameron being a good candidate for prime minister.

    Certainly the sheep have been out enjoying Joseph Goebbels’ Olympic torch with the kind of easily pleased imbecility last seen when crowds cheered Her Royal Freeloaderness on her jubilee of sitting on her batty and watching The Vanessa Show for 60 years.

    How very apt for our elected dictators they should be breeding imbecility with Mr Goebbels’ help.

    God knows how much money Sebastian Coe’s company is earning off it all. The athletes will pay no tax. The multi-national sponsors probably don’t pay tax anyway.

    I thought this little vignette captured beautifully in a nutshell the total contempt in which this ghastly bread and circus carnival really holds the people.

    The physical assault is a literal re-enactment of Seb, Tessa, Boris and every other jackbooted underling who’ll be forcing to pay for this miserable event for the rest of our lives while all those at the top of the table fill their boots and expect the rest of us to lick them.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/torch-relay/video/9385190/London-2012-Olympics-boy-knocked-from-bike-by-torch-security.html

    Please celebrate the Olympics by boycotting any brands associated with it.

  17. Why not allocate the Olympics to whoever is silly enough to want them by lottery, instead of by auction, as at present? Then the I.O.C. wouldn’t be able to make such outrageous demands on the hosts.

  18. Pingback: John Ward – London 2012 : Signs That We May Be About To Get The Shambolympics – 12 July 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

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  20. ‘…around the South Circular in general and throughout Blackheath in particular’. No surprise there, at any time during the last fifty years.

    The Spectator had a competition (at least 30 years ago) to write an extract from a novel written at some time in the distant future about the present day (at the time of writing). One of the featured entries began ‘ He stepped into his machine and zoomed off along the South Circular’. How we all laughed !

  21. Why are the taxpayers, who are funding the Games, not allowed to satisfy themselves that their money has been wisely spent and that contracts signed in their names have been negotiated in their best interests?

    As an FCA and experienced fraud investigator I would never advise people to put money into a project/business without them at the very least seeing the contract and reviewing it thoroughly, taking advice from independent finance/legal professionals.
    http://the2012olympicgames.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/g4s-win-gold-medal-for-spectacular.html

  22. Pingback: John Ward – Greece & Spain : The Real Story – In Clubmed, The Guilty Are Protected And The Innocent Turn To Violence. The Olympic Games Are A Sideshow. – 12 July 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

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