9 billion pounds for the sake of a tenth of a second, or a sponsorship deal…
And, as for the ‘legacy’, well, just consider the fortunes of Greece.
[Image courtesy of davehighbury via Flickr.com ©©]
Well, at least the kids will enjoy it - though, at a cost of 27 million quid for half an hour's entertainment, they'd better do. I'm referring, of course, to the 900 school children selected to perform alongside dancers and acrobats at the opening ceremony of the Olympics - the extravaganza that will kick off a fortnight of enforced interest in beach volleyball and synchronised swimming. What on earth football and boxing are doing in there beats me.
Any Premier League match is likely to produce more excitement and skill than those strangely bloodless encounters that will take place in a stadium full of awfully nice people, but not primarily of football fans. For one thing, having queued up for an hour to get past security, they'll have been systematically relieved of all atmosphere-enhancing items such as horns, whistles, drums, and rattles, that the irritatingly wholesome Seb Coe and his team want nothing to do with. Other prohibited items, oddly enough, include babies and picnics.
But I'm digressing a bit.
It's not the sport I object to (well, not all of it), nor the dedication and skill of the athletes. It's the fact that gushing uncritical admiration for this money sapping enterprise is required and expected at all times. NINE BILLION POUNDS, it's cost us, at a time when there are one or two more pressing demands on the public purse.
NINE BILLION POUNDS for the sake of a tenth of a second off a previous record and, for the lucky athlete in question, a handsome sponsorship deal with a firm flogging underwear or breakfast cereal.
And what about the five hundred quid bonuses for Tube drivers for merely doing their job during Olympic fortnight? Or the unexplained outbreak of hyperinflated hotel prices to give visitors to London a good old fashioned British welcome? Residents meanwhile will face gridlock as an army of self-important officials requisitions whole traffic lanes to be fast tracked to the best seats in the house.
Ah but what of the benefits? Excuse me, what benefits? A largely immigrant workforce ensured that construction of the site did nothing to boost local employment. As for the so called "legacy" of the games, just take a look at Athens right now to see how spectacularly the Greeks have fared. And truly fantastic claims to reduce child obesity look a shade hollow with the sponsors' logos (McDonalds and Coca Cola) plastered all over them.
So enjoy the opening and closing events which alone have doubled to a mere 80 million quid. And all in inverse proportion to any rational justification for this monumental act of sel-indulgence...