Sunday 10 August 2008


What were you doing last Friday afternoon?

I was shopping in Newcastle (not for anything interesting: furnishings for houses for holiday rentals). There seemed to be as many people as normal. I didn't see any of them carrying portable TVs or peering into mobile phones. When I was in Currys no-one was looking at the TV screens - and in fact I don't think they were even tuned to the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

I suspect my experience in Newcastle was repeated around the country.

So can it really be right that the ceremony was watched by 4 billion people as Saturday's press suggested? Two thirds of the Earth's population? A lot of people are Chinese, which could help the numbers - but do they all have access to a TV? I seem to remember reading that most people in Beijing were not allowed to watch on public screens. And surely there are many other places -much of Africa, with almost another billion? - without easy access to TV.

So I just don't believe that glib headline that 4 billion people watched the opening ceremony. And sadly its just typical of the Olympic hype. I don't know when it all went wrong, but words like bloated, drug riddled, unnecessary come to mind. Even in China, they are having to bus in spectators.

I write like a grumpy old man because I'm horrified by the amount of money we are spending on the London Olympics - and this when our nearest neighbour, France, would have been only to happy to put on the show for us.

The Olympic site has thrown a number of businesses out of work and has closed dozens of informal sports grounds. The budget is out of control, with more and more money going on construction and less on the "legacy". The money is being taken from arts and sports clubs around the country. And for what? Well, perhaps its too soon to say, but my guess is that lots of people will avoid London while the games are on (as in Sydney and Athens) and lots of Londoners will leave the city. Leaving the half empty stadia for the IOC members in their luxury hotels and chauffered limos.

1 comment:

Troy said...

The "Troy" family wish you well with your Holiday Lettings business. The website looks great. These, along with the delightful Harness Lodge at Elford must be THE choice for the discerning family holidaying on the Northumberland Riviera.