Daily Archives: January 9, 2012

#oneaday 58: Citius, Altius, Fortius…?

So says the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger. Indeed this year’s Olympics could and should do a lot of things for Britain. Much has been written about the legacy vs cost of the whole project and the latest figures to be quoted show a hard cost of £9.1Bn to the UK tax payer.; To put some perspective on this, £9.1Bn  is about half the bank bonuses paid in the City of London in 2008 just before the major crash and about twice what was paid out to bankers this time last year.There will be a load of new homes for people (note I don’t say ‘houses’ because many will not actually be that, but stick to the official word) in East London some of which will be ‘affordable’ again official speak. 6 of the 8 sporting venues have been found a use post games, leaving only 2 to go. The project has been delivered on time and by all accounts within budget and to a high standard. This is all good. Tickets are oversubscribed and whilst thousands of UK citizens have not been able to get tickets, this is the first time that any Olympics has been sold out so far in advance. I guess that is a tribute to the UK public’s appetite for sport and the big occasion. The organisers even sold 20,000 tickets to the Synchronised Swimming when capacity was half that. Who’d have thought?

Indeed I will make no bones about it, I am a big supporter of the Olympic Games. Even though it has become a fully professional games and we will see a second Wimbledon tennis tournament this year with most of the same players taking part, it is still a great sporting occasion and one that Britain has a very decent track record (no pun intended) over the years. It is probably best that it is virtually all professional now and that aspect is out in the open. For years the USSR and DDR plus other Eastern Bloc nations would show up and win loads of medals through a mixture of ‘focus’ namely they were state sponsored full time athletes, gymnasts, weightlifters and so on, or through blatant cheating by using performance enhancing drugs. Over age ‘college’ kids from the USA would sweep up the other medals and everyone would shrug their shoulders and accept it. Great Britain would produce the occasional super performers like Daley Thompson, Steve Ovett, Sebastian Coe as well as fantastically talented and unassuming amateurs like Mary Peters and David Hemery.

Anyway I digress! For me the Olympics are fab. This year, and every four years there will be an army of volunteers who will give their time to help run the games and welcome all the visitors from overseas. But I have read reports that the volunteer army have been given strict instructions by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on how they can and can’t use social media through the games and this has to be a really suspect decision.

Before we call for the head of Lord Coe, who has not only proved himself to be a truly world class athlete, but has run the whole enterprise with an amazing sense of professionalism and passion (much like his running ability), we have to look at the Olympic organisers, the IOC. Much like FIFA they report to no one bar themselves and make decisions without fear of consequence. And they are based in the tax haven of Switzerland, just like FIFA.  It is the Olympics themselves that have put this dictate down.

So imagine that you are one of thousands who will give up their time to help most likely nowhere near any sporting action, and you are told ‘no Twitter, no Facebook, no communication’ during the games please. Instead of encouraging thousands of volunteers to let their friends know what is happening, good or bad, direct from the coal face and in the process generating millions of Olympic tags, you snap that off at the source and introduce dark ages rules that will only irk those who are giving up their time for the honour of helping out. Seriously the IOC need to reconsider their position and do that rather quickly.

This sort of backward thinking would have been perfectly accepted at the Bejing Games of 2008, after all China does not really like the World Wide Web, preferring the Chinese version.  But as for Britain being complicit in this outrage, well it is astonishing, out of touch and just plain wrong. We have not seen this sort of totalitarian approach to information control since Henry VIII broke with Rome, although Murdoch has had a pretty good go at playing his own special hand in recent years.

Outrageous and out of touch. Dear IOC, for the sake of your own reputation please reconsider your position on the issue of social networks for this year’s Olympics or suffer the heat that will inevitably rise as citizens reject your nonsense rules. Higher, faster, stronger in everything, thank you.


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