The Sharpener’s Paris correspondent, Katie Bartleby, notices that while the official French bid folks are already serving up the sour grapes, ordinary Parisians understand that they have won today:
I knew the announcement had been made because several of the apartments in my courtyard had applause burst out of the open windows. That’s French people, clapping that London got the games. This is not a country known for being magnanimous losers (or even magnanimous winners.) They’re pleased London won because they want to inflict the games on London. That’s not magnanimity, that’s Schadenfreude.
Nosemonkey’s post from last November about the economic arguments against the London Olympics are worth revisiting:
… The cost estimate is just £2.375bn — only a third of the Athens games. Will we stick to this budget? Well, if the Millennium Dome disaster is anything to go by, no – that hideous white elephant is currently costing the country nearly £30 million a year just for it to stay closed and empty, blighting the landscape and the view from Greenwich Park.
Of this under-estimate of £2.375 billion, £875 million is to be borne by London through a £20 pa increase in council tax. So I’m going to have to fork out an extra £160 over the next eight years when my Council Tax is already extortionate to pay for something I don’t want in a part of London I’ve never been? Great. And those who actually WANT the Olympics — are they going to get free tickets in return for having their hard-earned money taken from them to pay for a bunch of well-paid athletes to have a jolly? Bollocks are they.
I’m not sure about those “well-paid” athletes, since the underachieving millionaires of the American basketball team are hardly representative, but the rest of that seems fair. Further afield, non-Londoners ought to be enen more incensed at the thought of tax increases to stump up for a fortnight of bread and circuses. Quoth Chicken Yoghurt:
Unless the marathon runs past my front door here in Brighton, the Olympics coming to the UK will impact on my life not at all — apart from, of course, all the money that will swill away to pay for this smug back-slap. I’m sure if you live on a sink estate in Glasgow you must be jumping for joy right now. As you will be if you run any of the functionally redundant yet highly lucrative marketing consultancies or advertising agencies that swarm around London like mussels around a sewage outlet.
Not to mention the small local businesses in the Lea Valley are not all that happy about being forced to relocate.
I instinctively agree with all this. But as someone involved with the grassroots organisation of a minority sport, I have a vested interest. I love the idea that some of my younger teammates will get the opportunity to compete at the highest amateur level — if the IOC don’t decide to drop baseball from the 2012 programme tomorrow. I’m also excited about the possibility of long-overdue investment in world-class training facilities for the sport in a city where decent baseball diamonds are
hard to come by nonexistant.
Nice as they are for the handful of top athletes in each sport, though, world-class venues is not what most grassroots sports need in Britain. As Camilla Cavendish put it in the Times today, many of the anti-Olympics financial arguements still apply now that the bid has been successful:
… if we really want to get a new generation involved in sport, if we want to create a base to nurture the athletes of the future, we need to spend money on inner city sports facilities, not elite performance venues. Some local sports projects have already been cut because Government has raided the sports budget to fund the Olympic bid. The budget for south-central London has fallen from £27 million over a three-year period to £16 million over four years. That’s money that would have gone to local basketball courts, tennis courts, playing fields. Sport England’s community budget is £2 million a year for the next five years for the whole of London: what is that going to buy?
Given that, cuo bono? Journalist Andrew Jennings, who has written three books critical of the IOC thinks he knows:
“One of the frequently uniting factors of all these bids, for all these cities is a small group of people who wish to get richer than they already are or have jobs for even longer,” Jennings said yesterday by telephone from England.
“Whichever city wins tomorrow — there’s seven years’ work for that lot. The unifying factor is self interest by property speculators.”
That’s will certainly be seven years of news stories and blog entries to keep an eye on “that lot”.