The thing is that the London 2012 Organising Committee might want to take a long, hard look at themselves in a mirror. Or perhaps if a mirror isn’t to hand, they could use one of Sebastian Coe’s shiny medals. Because after the initial vague scepticism which greets every major project in the UK (A tunnel? To France? Really? A big man with aeroplane wings in Gateshead? And a mighty ferris wheel on the Thames? Well, if you insist), we have, as a nation, swung behind the Olympics.
Most Londoners have paid the Olympic levy on their council tax without feeling too grouchy – it is the Olympics, after all. They have stadiums to build and then knock down a month later, and that costs money. And yeah, London will crawl to a standstill next August because Jacques Rogge has to have whole roads to himself so his limo doesn’t rub bumpers with the people who pay for his big school sports day to take place at all. But hey, that’s just the price you pay to cater to the whims of over-privileged counts (I swear to god, that’s not a typo).
But the good will is rapidly dissipating, and the Olympic Committee has only itself to blame. If you set up a ticketing system which encourages people to bid for vastly more tickets than they want or can afford, and then claim the events are massively over-subscribed, you are going annoy the million people who didn’t get a ticket.
And if you announce with a big fanfare that you’re giving 10,000 tickets to members of the Armed Forces and their families, you should probably not also have given 9,000 tickets to MPs, who may feel like they are constantly under fire, but in fact aren’t. There are, after all, over 200,000 people serving in the Armed Forces, compared with 650 MPs.
And most especially, you shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that everyone else cares about nothing but the Olympics. The organisers of the Great Exhibition 2012 – a nationwide project planning events next summer with local choirs and marching bands and youth orchestras - have found themselves facing the threat of legal action, because they are using the date ‘2012’ in their name. The London Olympic Committee apparently feels that 2012 is now widely used to refer to next year’s games, and that this might therefore be a breach of copyright.
One hesitates to correct idiots, since they sometimes turn nasty, but I think that the Olympic organisers would be surprised to know how rarely the number 2012 is used to refer to the Olympics, compared with how often it is used to refer to, say, next year. My diary alone mentions 2012 quite often, and it doesn’t even like sport. Can’t we have Olympic triumph without an Olympian ego?