When that failed we were given two arguments, both risible. The first was that it would bring more tourists to London. The second was that it would create a wonderful heritage.
London does not need more tourists, as it is overrun by them most of the year. Past experience of cities that held Olympics shows there is subsequently a fall in the tourist numbers and these may not recover, as Athens found out even before the recent financial crisis. The various tourist quangos answer that they knew London would be different. Apparently not. Late last year the same quangos told us that projected hotel bookings for the summer of 2012 were significantly lower than in previous years. Whatever may happen during the actual Games, the Olympic curse already seems to be striking London.
The notion of creating some sort of heritage is even more ridiculous, especially since no one has ever been able to define it. Halfway through last year Steve Norris, former MP, former mayoral candidate, and someone involved through various quangos with the Olympic project, was still trying to whip up support by robustly proclaiming that the Games will have to leave some sort of a heritage to England. This, despite the fact that other countries who hosted the Games found themselves deeply in debt, often with specially built structures that have become derelict.
As predicted, the jobs that the whole project was going to bring to a high-unemployment area have been taken by all and sundry outside that area, since nobody bothered to examine why there was high unemployment there in the first place. The so-called Zil lanes designed to rapidly carry all those who are connected with the Olympic Games through London are causing enough discontent for Chairman of the British Olympic Association Lord Moynihan to announce that he would be using public transportation. This provoked another outcry: Given that London Transport has expressed doubts it would be able to cope with the large influx of visitors for the Games—and given its general track record—the idea of grandees huffing and puffing on the Tube is not heartening. Canary Wharf, an area that brings in daily profits, will be severely inconvenienced, with people who work there wondering if they would be able to use the Tube’s Jubilee Line.
The whole enterprise carries an unforgivable amount of expense, inconvenience, and pointlessness, especially since its primary aim seems to be creating a grandiose project to glorify politicians. If we must have Olympic Games at all, it is time to end their peripatetic nature, which adds to the unbearable expense and the outrageous corruption. Why not have future Olympic Games in the same place every four years, as the ancient Greeks were supposed to have done? The obvious place would be Athens—on condition that they raise the money for the Games themselves.
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