Monday, 28 July 2008

Saturday 28 July 2012 - London Olympics Debacle

As yesterday's opening ceremony for the London Games finally got under way in an explosion of colour, pyrotechnics and torrential rain, the government and organisers might have been forgiven for breathing a long sigh of relief after an unprecedented catalogue of setbacks which threatened to dwarf the cost overruns.

Transport arrangements have never fully recovered from the strike-hit upgrading of Stratford Station. 2010's tidal flooding of the Lower Lea Valley, and subsequent subsidence problems in the Olympic Village, led to the extemporary accommodation arrangements which have drawn so much criticism from athletes and resulted in the withdrawal of both members of the Luxembourg squad. Failure of the much-heralded 'smart ticketing system' has left organisers struggling to distinguish eight million genuine tickets from an unknown number of counterfeits, believed to be as many as three times this number. Loss of the entire consignment of Olympic torches in BA's Terminal 5 baggage handling system was only resolved with days to spare when they were tracked down in Bucharest.

With hindsight, Britain's final withdrawal of troops from Iraq at the end of 2009 and from Afghanistan last year - timed to minimise political protest in the run-up to the Games - and the cuts to the armed services which immediately followed, should have rung alarm bells. Last night's invasion of the Falklands by Argentine forces might therefore have been predicted. The simultaneous 'civil secession' of Gibraltar by Spain could not have been, although the timing can scarcely have been coincidence.

In either case, the UK government is now hamstrung. As the Games are played out under the flame of peace over the next fortnight, any response beyond inchoate rebuke is unthinkable.

Not that we any longer have the military resources to shake a stick. Even our javelin throwers are otherwise occupied.


  1. ... But at least we had some lovely cartoon graphics by Jamie Hewlett to usher in the disaster.

  2. I saw a wine bar exhorting drinkers to start celebrating the 2012 Olympics - surely they'll be dead by then if they start now!

  3. Lucy - Oh yes. With Tank Girl on our side...

    Laura - If they're lucky!

  4. The bookshop I used to work in was always heaving with slebs, and the unspoken rule was "don't let them know you know they're famous" - but the only time I broke the rule (apart from making a tit of myself to Tamsin Greig) was Jamie Hewlett - my rationale being that nobody recognises an artist so they're not bored with it. He was a sweetie.

  5. You were clever to recognise him - I bet he doesn't have that happen often. I read somewhere that Tamsin Greig started out as a town planner.

  6. He looks exactly like one of his cartoons! Scruffy hair, jagged teeth, etc... It was the name on the credit card that gave it away though...
    Was she a town planner? Curious career path she's had. Does this mean the stage calls to you too?