I just read a very small article in London’s Evening Standard which has irritated me pretty strongly. Not the article itself, more the news it brings. To quote Matthew Beard, the Sports News Correspondent:

Sports fans will be able to buy tickets for the Olympics from the start of next year…credit card purchases can only be made with Visa – the official Olympic credit card. There will be no preferential treatment for Londoners, who will contribute an average of £120 each in council tax to the Games budget.”

1)  credit card purchases must be made with Visa. Seriously? Equal access for all, right? Particularly considering that we’ve all paid for this Olympics with our taxes.

2) Londoners will get no special treatment, despite the fact that they will effectively each have bought a couple of seats worth of tickets with their council tax.

I know that the government doesn’t want to appear London-centric, but who the hell do they think is going to fill all those hundreds of thousands of seats? How else are they going to get people to go to all the obscure sports? Do they really want to beam pictures to billions of people around the world of empty stadiums? You can’t seriously expect many people from outside London to pay transport cost and extortionate seat costs to watch Ju-Jitsu (which I love, incidentally, but I know it’s not exactly popular). Frankly you can’t expect Londoners to pay much to watch that either. And by the fact that the £20 seats are considered “affordable”, I’m guessing the popular seats are going to be pretty expensive. Frankly for £20 I could go see a musical – why the hell would I pay to sit in a massive cold stadium for a couple of hours watching some unknown guys doing some sport I don’t understand? It’s on the TV for free after all!

Which is another thing which just seems so short-sighted. Surely the whole point of the Olympics is to increase the country’s interest in sports, to get kids interested in sports and to raise their expectations and aims in life. To show them – look, you could be doing this in four years time! Every school-kid in the country should get the opportunity to go watch the Olympics. It’s a once in a life-time opportunity. Are Locog, the organising committee, going to give free tickets to schools? I’m kinda doubting it. In which case it’s got to be cheap enough for schools or parents to take kids themselves. Otherwise what was the point of hosting the Olympics in the first place?

And frankly, I don’t care if it’s London-centric. We’re paying for part of the Olympics. We’re suffering three years or more disruption to tube, train and DLR, things that are part of our day-to-day lives. In addition, you can guarantee that the actual Olympics are going to be hellish for normal people going about their jobs – particularly if you have to pass through, or into, the areas where the events are being staged. That’s not to mention the curtailment of civil liberties which are almost guaranteed to occur in order to protect the Olympics from terrorists – or anyone else the government doesn’t want on TV.

Surely you’d expect some kind of system that gives cheap tickets to Londoners – for the kids, for all the shit areas where there’s nothing to look forwards to, and just for the practical reason that who the else is going to watch half this stuff?

Oh, and let’s not even go into how the Olympics are sucking money out of the arts and heritage, creating great big white elephant buildings and housing that will stand empty and unusable for years, or the horrible grotesque sense of privilege that surrounds the organisers, the venue, even many of the sportspeople involved. Not to mention the rampant commercialisation of what used to be an open, meritocratic concept dedicated to supporting amateur sportspeople across the world, just so Coca-cola can have its name in every camera-shot of the stadium.

To be positive, the Olympic project has paid for a massive swathe of regeneration, which has the potential to be awesome if the stuff they replace all the warehouses with is any good. But frankly, we could have done that without the Olympics if the government had any stomach for large social housing projects. Other than that, it’s really rather hard to feel positive about the Olympics. And if it turns out to be the radically commercialism, exploitative, privileged and useless piece of crap I am dreading, I may boycott it.

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