London 2012 has eventually arrived and it has certainly arrived in style. The city is buzzing with tourists and the feeling that one gets being here is simply incredible. Inclusiveness comes to mind!
A great example of this was when I took the train up to Nottingham last week to spend the day with a new client. The train was jam-packed with Mexicans and South Koreans on their way to watch the Olympic football match between the two respective countries at St. James’ Park in Newcastle – For those less informed, football is one of the few sports with some activity taking place outside of London. Back to the point though – It was a wonder to see how everyone was and is embracing being apart of this great event. A Korean couple sitting at the same table as an English couple and their daughter who was probably about 5 years old. The Koreans were, with difficulty owing to the language barrier, having a wonderful time teaching the little girl to draw their country’s flag. This type of spirit is something I am sure South African’s experienced in a similar fashion in 2010 and can identify with.
I will be heading to a few of the events myself to take in the spirit of the occasion. Add to that all the other sport going on here at the moment, including attending a lunch recently with Allan Donald and Mike Atherton in the lead-up to the test at the Oval, and I am feeling truly blessed!
There is something in amongst all this excitement though that has really pissed me off! I have found the general reaction to the opening ceremony from some quarters to be incredibly judgemental and ignorant. This entire scenario lends itself to two key points.
The first is that everyone is simply too quick to jump up and judge the ceremony as boring, or silly, or irrelevant. You name a negative description and it was voiced by a South African. Now I know, being a South African myself, that there is no love lost between the two nations but sometimes you have to give credit where it is due. My rivalry with the English is purely on a sporting level and that truly amounts to light banter and perhaps occasionally getting a little hot under the collar simply because sport is packed with so much emotion. It always comes down to a rational level though.
I for one think that the ceremony was planned, written and executed to perfection. It fully embraced all that makes and has made this little island great. You can bang on all you like about that not being the case but then you are simply being ignorant to what the United Kingdom has given the world. That’s not to say no other country has delivered an immense amount of value to the world, but this was about the UK and not another country. If all you wanted to see was a “spectacular show” then perhaps you would be better served to simply go and watch some fireworks followed by booking tickets to Cirque du Soleil! The opening ceremony needs to be about so much more and, most importantly, should not be about how much cash you spend on it! I take my hat of to Danny Boyle for a superb show!
This does however bring me to my second point on the matter. I know that opening ceremonies have long been a part of these events but I believe things have gotten a little out of hand. This extends far beyond just the opening ceremony though. The IOC and FIFA are the leaders in making countries hop, skip and jump to their every demand in order to host an event and all the emphasis is on how much will be spent, what new facilities will be built and what sort of a spectacle can be created to demonstrate how grand (and a little self-righteous) these organisations have become. Within this very framework the actual sport and sports people seems to be secondary. These organisation seem to have lost the plot!
Can anyone highlight when last a FIFA World Cup or Olympic event was hosted by a nation without leaving in their wake too many white elephants to count? FIFA and the IOC view themselves as so superior that a ‘brand new everything’ and astronomical budgets are required in order to host their events. I think it is simply unnecessary and it needs to be toned down drastically before we completely lose site of why these events exist and what makes them so important!
This is something I feel strongly about, but given the scenario I am incredibly happy that they did not spend more than they did on delivering this ceremony and I again think that Danny Boyle captured perfectly, with good humour to boot, what has made Great Britain so great!
That’s my rant done and be that as it may I am really enjoying the spirit of the event and what it brings to London. I do believe though that I live in one of the most vibrant cities in the world which has plenty to offer if you care to just look.
Samuel Johnson was spot on when he said …
“When a man is tired of London he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
Enjoy the Olympics and hopefully Team SA can add to Cameron’s gold medal and world record to improve dramatically on the 2008 tally!