Posted by: Dr Churchill | August 13, 2012

Olympic Spirit – London Olympics of 2012

The London Olympics are over.
At long last…

“Inspire a Generation” was the motto of the London Olympics. And it was to be a People’s Olympics and a natural Olympics having the greens all around us brilliant and glorious.

“Inspire a Greenwash” is what the motto came to be. And in many ways this came to pass with Astroturf and boiler plate PR corporate greenwash, it was.

And all that about Olympic ideals and the Olymopic Spirit although beautiful and semantic — at was all skin deep…

Mind you, the existence of the Modern Olympic Games is not due to corporations commercial interest even though the blatant commercialism of the London 2012 Olympic Games might have made them seem that way to most visitors and athletes alike. Their existence is not even due to sport itself.
The ancient Greeks founded the games three thousand years ago, because they sought PEACE. They wanted a peaceful time to compete with each other in a simulucrum of the war competition.
Mind you they engaged into war almost every spring and this was the cometition amongst the main city states of Ancient Greece. That is the true Olympic Spirit: A spirit of Peace and a general truce tto hold for the duration of the Olympics.
A simple concept indeed.

Even the modern Olympic games as were revived by Pierre de Coubertin over a hundred years ago, they were not due to sport, but due to the perceived benefit of healthy competition amongst European nations as a deterrent to war. The founder of the modern Olympics was an unlikely sports hero, a French aristocrat who thought physical education could have saved his country from military humiliation in the late 1800s. Now the growth of the Olympic Spirit throughout the Games and throughout the participating nations was another positive side effect wholly intended by the man who revived the Modern Olympics – Pierre de Coubertin – and whose heart is buried in the brithplace of the games in Olympia Greece. And the lonely campaign waged by Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, a century ago, slowly gained support among advocates of athletics in Europe and America, and thus Coubertin was able to organize the first modern Olympics in Athens Greece, back in 1896. That was a true People’s Olympics. Simple yet effective.
The years passed and many more games were organized along these lines, yet unfortunately today’s Modern Olympics have become something else. The Modern Games like the London 2012 were a Corporate greenwash and little resemble the Olympic ideal, or even it’s ancient counterpart – the Olympic Spirit.
Because today’s Modern Olympic games are not a game of sport but a festival of commercialism. They are ofcourse full of sport, such as Baseball Gymnastics, Swimming, Running, Jumping, Fencing, Horsing, Basketball, Football or any of the thousands of sports that people play, but the sports only serve as the fig leaf of Corporate malfeasance. The Modern Olympics big draw is to cover up and embellish the image of the Corporate Sponsors by affiliating them with this all pure ancient Olympic Spirit… these old and pernicious Greeks spread to the world.

But let’s look at the Ancient Olympic Spirit in detail and see what it represented for all of us. Because way back about Three Thousand Years ago in Greece, the Olympics were a serious effort at a healthy competition amongst competing city states of Greece, as represented by their best Athletes in sport. They did this in order to allow them and their elders a time to travel and come together in the neutral space that offered sport competition festivals and the time for peaceful dispute resolution. We had the ancient Olympics in order to find the leaders, the athletes and the ambassadors of all Greek cities in a peaceful neutral setting to discuss in Peace all their issues, and convene in order to dissolve competitive interests, animosities, and resolve differences that might have led them to war otherwise – had they remained unresolved. They did this while watching their best men, competing athletes, as proxies fighting “in war” to best each other.

And of course this had to do with WAR and it’s avoidance. And in that respect the Olympics were highly poolitical too. Remember that war was an annual occurrence in ancient Greece with Spring time being the preferred meeting time in the field of honor. And of course we all know that War is the father of us all. And as such the Classic Olympics served for a Thousand years as a great simulation of battle. A competition. Only the Olympic spirit dictates this to be a sporting competition same as a “bloodless war” leading to a release of those all too human primal emotions, passions and interests, that drive all of our wars. Because war is made of simple human basic instinct as expressed in anger, fear and perceived personal interest. That is all. That is why we go to war as long as history holds true…

Humanity’s war instinct unleashes the competitive juices and often sends us to kill, rape and pillage each other’s homelands in a periodic bloodletting that culls many souls each and every year across the globe.

Yet the innovation of the Olympic Spirit was that we could simulate war in the field of Sport without the unneccessary bloodletting.
We can invite all nation states or city states to present their strongest, their best and brightest “warrior – athletes” in the filed of sporting polite competition in order to settle the Age old question of “Who is the Best?”
That way we could invoke the Ancient Greek Olympic Spirit in order to determine the outcome and settle any dispute thus. And thus we also avoid having to go to war next Spring, and compete in the field of battle through our warring armies bleeding and tearing tendon and limb from bone and sinew and spilling human life into the dirt…
The Olympic Spirit meant to prevent that and the Olympic Games are a simulacrum of the bloodletting of war and the loss of lives and souls in the field of honor. So Olympics are a form of competitive war, but without the fallen heroes and the destruction and associated bloodletting that follows each and every war regardless of numerical or technological advantage…

That is the simple idea behind the Olympic Spirit. And that is why there was also a heralded TRUCE that had to be kept for the duration of the Games and the period immediately before and after. It was the most sacred TRUCE of the ancient world and it was always observed during the Olympics. Because the Olympics when founded and executed in their birthplace Greece over Three Millennia ago, and they served a useful political innovation too. Similar to other political and social innovations like Democracy, the separation of Powers, and the rule of Law — the Olympics are a Greek sociopolitical innovation worthy of the best of Humanity’s achievements. Not only for it’s longevity but for it’s resilience and service to the world.

Olympic Spirit and the power of Truce was what the Olympics were all about when they were invented three thousand years ago, and exercised for over a thousand years in Greece. And the Classic Olympics in Greece for more than a Millennia, were a people’s gentle yet fierce competition where everyone could compete and carry glory back to their city. GLory in the form of a solemn wreath of laurel. No gold, silver or bronze medals. Just a green wreath from local laurel, to crown the head of the victorious athletes.

What a difference a few thousand years make. In the modern Olympics, the spirit is gone. Much like the Olympian Gods and the Greek Demon – Genius of the race – they have all sought refuse in the memory of the people and in the hearts of the past. But in ral life they are fully absent. And their names are not invoked any longer either. It might be because the modern games organizers choose to replace it all, with the commercial enterprises that fashion themselves as the Gods of the games today. And the games themselves have thus degenerated in a competition of brands, logos and blatant commercialism with the real winners being those COmpanies who pay the most to buy the games for their own brand…
A sad affair behind the brilliaant facade really…

However, unlike today’s London 2012 and the Modern version of the Olympics, the Classic Olympics were a real People’s game and a healthy competition of amateurs that also involved the men and women of spirit too.
Today, the sheer variety of commercialism, greenwashing and whitewashing of evil doing corporations that diminish Life on this Earth is the Olympic legacy.
The Modern Olympics think that they can simply wash away all the sins by using the Olympic Spirit to cover them up. It is as if the Olympic flame could expiate all the sins of the corporate Mega Donors who spend upwards of One hundred Million a pop for the right to brand the Olympics themselves.

A hundred Million US Dollars buys the Olympic corporate sponsors a “Get out of Jail” card worthy of all of their sins in the minds of the public. Much like the old papal forgiveness, ferried by the cardinals in the form of Catholic indulgences this form of Corporate Sin washing is irrational and criminal too.

Corporate sin weavers are not what the Olympics are supposed to be. Instead they are meant to be pure and idealistic. Not tarred and dirty sullied with the sins of the Corporate malefactors. Because the multitude of sports, the idea of the finest athletes from around the globe gathering and competing while representing their countries as best and brightest, represents all that is good and great with humanity. That is the true Olympic Spirit.
Certainly not the corporate sin that arguably is only the best example of greed and avarice.
So why have the organizers and the host nations fallen so low in their remit?

Why?

Why has the Olympic Spirit left the Modern Gqames?

Maybe because they have they failed the pure and true Olympic Spirit?

Add to that the lack of an element of Peace as befitting the Olympic Truce, and the fact that there are no amateur athletes and no Olympic Spirit of benevolent diplomacy amongst nations during the games, and these are certainly not the People’s Olympics. These are not the people’s games. These are not the Classic Olympics we all harken for either.

Far from it.

And of course it was difficult to find any Olympic Spirit this year in London because the Olympic games were conducted in the midst of a vast Commercial enterprise. A very different brand Games than the Beijing ones. Olympic Truce was of course not even tried for and the threat hang thick over the heads of all Peoples participating in the Olympics. It was a Greenwashing and Sinwashing Corporate Olympic Games London 2012 truly. And the fact that it is every four years makes it feel like a unique Athletic Competition or a unique chance for large sinful businesses to wash away their sins and their evil from destroying this Earth.

What a contrast with the idea of the original Classic Olympic Games this London Games were..

The ancient Greeks called the Olympics “EVGENIS AMILA” meaning a polite competition. A game yet a real war-like fierce competition, holly for all. It was a time for Peace. They had a law for an OLYMPIC TRUCE that was inviolate. During the classic Olympics, there was absolutely no war. In the event that a state was going against that, then all nations would declare war against them to quiet the winds of war down. Because simply, if there was war, there could be no Olympics. Simple as that.

Why then Britannia and the United States couldn’t negotiate a truce with the combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of the games?

Did anybody even try?

Me thinks not. Because neither Mr Hague nor Ms Clinton ever even thought about it. It’s probably a thought well above their pay grade…

The origins of the current Modern Olympics, lie in the International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin’s struggle with the French sporting authorities, and in the Olympic Charter, with its promises ‘to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’. But this although a watered down version of the Olympic Spirit, even this ideal was not to last…

The London Olympics have had even a much narrower set of ambitions than the founder of the Modern Games had. One of the five promises made in the original Olympic bid by London was: ‘To demonstrate that the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, to visit and for business.’

Let us examine these modern day London Olympic pledges one by one:

1) Welcoming business has meant that the 4,700 medals being given out at the event have been struck from gold, silver and bronze donated by Rio Tinto, mined chiefly from its Bingham Canyon mine in Utah, USA. According to the London Mining Network, Rio Tinto’s mining operation has generated air pollution causing between 300 and 600 deaths in Utah each year.

2) London 2012’s main ‘sustainability partner’ is British Petroleum. Need I say more?
British Petroleum responsible for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that likely killed off most fishing stocks and signs of life in the deep parts of the whole of the GULF OF MEXICO. This saw some 200 million gallons of crude oil released into the Gulf of Mexico, poisoning fishing stocks, endangering birds and other wildlife, and putting tens of thousands of fishermen out of work. British Petroleum is also one of the companies involved in extracting tar sands in Canada, a process that destroys primary old growth forests, wastes untold volumes of fresh water, causes illness in mining areas, and is already responsible for around 25% per cent of all of that country’s carbon emissions, with production set to increase continuously over the next decade.

3) And right in the heart of the athletes’ village, the London organisers have invited the building of the world’s largest McDonald’s fat machine for cultivating human cows. A Fat Farm indeed. No self respecting athlete eats at McDonalds and yet they are feeding the masses in fast food nation fashion. Another company hoping to be associated with the health and vigour of the athletes is Coca-Cola – the sugar water body polluter and the sponsor of the Olympic torch relay.

4) The day the London bid succeeded all London people felt like winners. We all toasted the Olympics in the local pub. We all cheered and shouted Happy Glory, and there were cheering crowds in Stratford and much of East London too. Blighted East London’s borough of Newham would see a renaissance, was the story of the headlines. Many local people, not unreasonably, expected that the Games would lead to significant regeneration of their borough, which is one of the poorest in London. Far from it. All these expectations turned to dust. As an example, the Atherton leisure centre and its swimming pool closed before the games, and the new Olympic pool is not scheduled to open to the public before 2014. This all means that there are now fewer sporting facilities in Stratford and East London than there were before the games…
The Borough of Stratford has seen no significant spending on housing, schools or other social infrastructure. However arrests of youth and people of colour around Stratford have gone up an incredible six thousand per cent. It seems the Olympics wants to protect itself from the locals by sending them to jail for the duration of the games. Nice Olympic Spirit that is. Maybe to protect the shoppers coming to Westfield, the vast shopping mall that has been built, and the tube station that has been redesigned to drive errant shoppers into it. But the shopping centre is marketed at wealthy international Olympic tourists with budgets to purchase luxury goods — not the 50% unemployed Stratford residents. Who in their right mind really believes that Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Versace, De Beers, Tateossian or Tiffany will still be in Stratford in 6 months time from now? Seems to me they don’t cash unemployment checks at Tiffany’s.

Of course in every Olympic Game there are winners and losers, but in these games the winners aren’t the British people, especially with a price tag to the taxpayer likely to be in excess of $17 billion.

5) Across London, small but popular local green spaces have been shut to make way for the Games. This April, the Olympic Development Agency obtained an injunction to exclude local residents and protesters from Leyton Marsh to facilitate the building of a basketball practice area. The building was unnecessary, as there were several alternative disused sporting arenas within 30 minutes of the Marsh, which could simply have been refurbished. It has involved substantial construction works that have taken over a much-loved community space. The developers refused to engage with local councillors who began asking questions about the use of the site six months before the building work began.

6) The Olympics organizers had identified traffic ‘hotspots’ that are likely to be congested during the Games, including Canary Wharf, London Bridge, King’s Cross and Paddington and had made alternate arrangements for themselves. In effect the sports administrators themselves were protected from the worst of the congestion. For three weeks from the end of July onward, large parts of the central London road network will be closed to all but Olympic dignitaries and their hangers-on. The ‘Olympic Games lanes’ for accredited vehicles, which receive preferential traffic signals, will maintain their exclusivity by having the London Police impose heavy fines and impoundment on all other vehicles driving into them. The Olympic dignitaries themselves will have access to specially built, chauffeur‑driven cars traveling at no speed limit – seemingly “above” all other plebeian traffic on the snarling roads of London town… All other organizations, businesses and people, had to anticipate journey times being extended by over two hours during the Games.

7) The total cost of the Olympics has surpassed £17 billion or US $26 billion. Most of this bill goes to be paid by You and me as general taxation of £15 billion, and the rest of the over charge, will be spread amongst other government budgets. This figure rises to £23 billion or US $35 when all Olympic construction costs are included.
These are fantastic sums of money when considering that we are in a double dip “W” recession. The British economy is hurting yet the Olympic organizing committee is making out like bandits…
By way of comparison, during the last London Olympics in 1948 the total budget was £600,000. Even taking inflation into consideration, the real cost of the Olympics is above 1,000 times more than the last time London hosted the Games.

8) London Olympics were supposed to be the people’s Games and an equitable level playing field of employment and entrepreneurship akin to competitive sport. Of course these hopes were dashed early because the London Games were not equitable, since the spending extravagance, did not help increase local or London employment. The one area in which the organisers were recruiting local labour was for security guards as a temporary and lowly low skilled work. And although a large number of the security personnel were recruited from around the area, some 11,000 people altogether, the work was precarious and short lived in the extreme. Most all employment contracts last just two to four weeks and only for the duration of the Games. Salaries are low at £5-7 per hour, and the main contractor G4S has negotiated further bonuses if it succeeds in reducing the hourly rate.
As for the entrepreneurship opportunities the Olympics true to form are a game for big companies alone and not small concerns or start ups and Mom & Pop businesses. All construction and services were awarded to the same companies that were the behemoths of other games and industrial might. Nothing new here…
And even the security company through it’s recruitment of large numbers of guards, chimes with the general tendency, for spending on policing to increase — while spending on health and education falls. The Olympics’ contribution to London policing has already included the use of pre-emptive banning orders and Olympic “ASBOS” (= No contact orders) against supporters of the Leyton Marsh campaign and the deployment of armed police officers to all East London transport hubs well before the games had even started.

For obvious reasons security was tight and it spared no expense. The organisers of London 2012 were able to call on the immediate assistance of almost 13,500 ground troops, to plug the holes that private security firm G4S had left. And also were having at their disposal several typhoon jets, Puma and Lynx helicopters, and two assault warships, HMS Ocean, and HMS Bulwark, the first of which was stationed in the Thames throughout the Games. And of course add to it all the secret agencies the Yard and the police that had all been mobilized for the Games duration. That is an additional cost to the taxpayer that is not figured out in any budget figures, because it would have been a huge tab that none could have covered, and because that is usually covered deep within the Defence budget.

9) Meanwhile, the low wages paid to Olympic security guards and service personnel by the G4S and the organizing committee respectively, contrast sharply with the generous salaries paid to the London 2012 Olympic managers. The Managers of the Games, 16 of whom were being paid in excess of £150,000 per year plus bonuses and all other perks of office were overjoyed and well employed long term. Take Sebastian Coe for example, who as chair of the organising committee, received a starting salary of £350,000 per year, but his full benefits package rises to more than £1,600,000 per year when bonuses, image rights, and his Olympics associated work for various private companies is factored in the mix. And juxtapose this with the more than Seventy thousand (70K) volunteers who worked for free for the Olympics. The seventy thousand volunteers might have worked for the Olympic Spirit alone, coming from all over yet the majority of them are from London and are suffering the same economic woes like everyone else. Yet nothing trickled down to them from this extravaganza – no money, no skills, no prospects – and seeing this, you get a pretty inequitable idea about this year’s games. And of course these Seventy Thousand volunteers who are offering their work GRATIS and who are compensated solely by the old ideals founded three thousand years ago in Greece and still permeating the Olympics today, embody the true spirit of the Olympics.
The vaunted OLYMPIC SPIRIT.

In light of the vast commercialization and Corporate Greenwashing, it was inevitable, that the current London 2012 Olympic Games, would be subject to vivid protests, civil disobedience and objectification. All this came to pass because of the blatant commercialism the London Olympics 2012 were given into.

In the Classic Olympoics things were very different. Because Sports begins in the most basic of human responses – the pleasure of running, jumping, testing your own reflexes and those of the people around you. The distinct pleasure of Competition and the pleasures of camaraderie in Sporting festivals. But the current Olympic sports franchise is a business that has escaped from these moorings and has sailed into the vast Commercial ocean of business and corporations first. All else second and the people a distant last. Not a good pecking order. Because all over the sporting world, we see the same negative phenomena, such as declining access to public land or to other free facilities that enable people to participate in sports directly, declining opportunities to watch sports live, and decreases in paritcipation. Mainly because supporting sport is increasingly done via television, more and more on pay-per-view satellite television, rising ticket prices, increasing salaries for sports stars and sports administrators, and a tendency for sport to mirror the worst excesses of Corporations and their culture of looting the Commons — it makes for a passive spectator culture.

So the modern Olympic Games have lost the Spirit.

The London Olympics much like most Modern Olympics have lost their MoJo and were just an expensive extravagant corporate and commercial sports festival of greenwash, sinwash and simply whitewash. In that respect it served it’s corporate sponsors well.

Naturally the London Olympics 2012 gave a golden lustre, an unalloyed and unearned reputation to some of the most controversial of industrial behemoths and their plundering of the Earth businesses. The reapers and rapers of our Commons and the Great Polluters of our Earth are earning a timorous allure simply on the back of the Olympics…
That is the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games and for all this, US $100 million is a small price to pay.

Such a prize…

Yours,
Pano

PS:

Did the Olympic games need to be so dominated by corporate sponsorship?
Of course not.

Could it have turned otherwise?
Of course Yes.

We could have had a true Peoples Olympics…
We could have had a friendly Olympics…
We could have had Olympics spread throughout the UK…
We could have had Olympics by using existing facilities that have already been built.
We could have had so many more people able to see the games…
We could have had Olympic ticket prices so much lower due to the increased capacity available…

Instead of this we see 1000′s of empty corporate seats at most events so far with few if any families on low incomes able to afford a seat at any event.

LONDON 2012 was never an Olympics games for the people. It was always a game for the corporate sponsors which reflects how the ancient Olympic Spirit is gone form the Modern Games.
And it also shows how the Modern Olympic Committee runs a simple Greenwashing and corporate sin washing sports festival, for the indulgence of the multi national corporations that pay the organizers keep in lox, champagne and caviar.

Methinks we need to have a rethink of the Games and maybe a return to the roots…


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: