The Grumps Strikes Back... NO to PARIS 2012

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ok. Regular readers of my blog know that I am a rabid sports fan... all kinds of sports, from tennis, to football, to hockey, to sailing... even dressage (hey, horses dancing... dancing with horses! Weee...). But, even with all this glib blathering on jumping around and working a sweat, I have reservations about professional sports.

One of the biggest ethical problems, personally, is the whole idea of the Olympics. I really love watching the Olympics and I always get Olympic fever. You know, where you watch the first broadcast, then, 4 hours later, you watch a rebroadcast of the same sport, and then 6 hours later, you rewatch the commentary you've already seen twice. Then you think of nothing else, and you bounce of the walls at work, and drag your face around the carpet, dreaming of hurdles and backstrokes.

But the Olympics, as an event, in a city, is a mega-billion dollar thing. It's business. It's not hididdlyho everybody win-win and get the new stadiums built. It's a lottery with serious results, not unlike that Monkey Paw story. What am I getting hot about? Well, it took Montreal over 25 years to work off the deficit from their 1976 games. They lost a significant amount of their economic vitality, that they've never really regained. Salt Lake City's games temporarily damaged some formerly environmentally protected land. No doubt there was major damage to surrounding wildlife, but one doesn't hear of those things. Neither does the fact that the Olympics doesn't bring long-term economic growth. Beijiing will no doubt set the standard for unethical behaviour. Isn't this the city where there's so much surrounding deforestation that there's dust-storms every summer and winter? I guess the Olympic committee had nothing to reproach them because they'd already destroyed their environment.

The fact of the matter is, welcoming such a large number of people to sporting activities, to showcase the city and what the surrounding areas have to offer, almost inevitably brings with it all the trapping of staging such a large event. Massive pollution, unenvironmental expansion in infrastructure, and great deficit... deficit the population pays for for years. And, maybe I am simplifying the issue a little, but how can you really analyse the full scope and impact of such a major international event? I can't get jump on the bandwagon without getting more facts. Sorry.

And, while Paris still looks good in photos, we, the Parisians, know that things are shit here economically. (Unless you happen to be an aristocrat, socialite or a rich housewife, in which case you don't see nothing). There's massive unemployment, and stagnant growth. Businesses are wary and expansion is hesitant. France is in a slump. So why shoot itself in both feet?

I'm against this. I'd rather just stage the Olympics in one non-political space, non-political arena, every year. Confine the damage to a justified space and maybe get different countries to host the different events. Maybe create a space that could be renewed, installation rebuilt and changed every 4 years, but have all athletes together, on safe and common ground. It's the athletes and their achievements that count for me, not whether they get some silly ethnic touque at the end of their gold medal. Hell, I don't really know anything more about Greece since the Olympics... except maybe that it's too hot to run a marathon properly.

Paris 2012? That's one competition I'd prefer we lose.