Dystopian Vision of the London Olympics, Shoreditch, 2011, Ravish London


London Olympic City 2012
Dystopia and Manufactured Utopia

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Jingoistic Joy followed by Bombs
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On July 6th 2005 London was awarded the Olympics, to the surprise of many, who had assumed Paris, being more sophisticated and not British, would be the recipient. BBC News ran regular reports from the joyous scenes within the cloudy, dusty, dirty Trafalgar Square, and from outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris, where the bad tempered French, rooted to the spot by the weighty chips on their shoulders, stayed much longer to commiserate than the British did to celebrate, routinely booing the roving BBC News reporter, whenever he came in sight. The more boos the reporter received the more he seemed to gloat, glow, transcend and almost ascend.

The surprise of being awarded the games took a while to sink in. Londoners were not psychologically prepared. Britain, in 2005, had become a pariah nation owing to Tony Blair's sycophantic support for the warmongering United States and their invasion of Iraq. Feeling hated, the prospect of being awarded the Olympics had seemed unlikely. Furthermore there was a fair amount of apathy, underpinned by cynicism about how much Sebastian's dream, this great big vanity project, was going to be at the cost of the taxpayer, and for what, to have an ADS diet of McDonalds and Coca Cola marketed in our face every minute of every hour for two rainy weeks. Indeed when the host city was announced, most Londoners were so unprepared, they were more amused by the bemusement of the French than anything else. It was like we were in denial. It was only in the hours that followed, in the late afternoon and early evening that a sense of jubilation began to grow. Londoners made lingering eye contact with each other, trying to make sense of what this was all going to mean. The world was about to descend on to a city that the world had already descended on. It was as if London was about to take on the mantel and finally been recognised as capital of the world.

Hasib Hussain killed the inchoate sense of anticipation and excitement, stone dead, the following day, when he exploded a bomb that he had packed into a rucksack, on a bus in central London. During the stunned silence that must have followed, thirteen people were to loose their lives. Further bombs were exploded in three other locations on London's Underground, killing more. The mobile phone network was cut off, people had to walk miles to get home that evening. All of a sudden, Britain's warmongering and the hatred it had inspired, the sickening fear of being under attack, burned hard, and burned all the seeds of excitement planted the day before. London, if the truth were told, never really got to celebrate being awarded the Olympics.


Celebrations in Trafalgar Square
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Diamond Geezer described the atmosphere in Trafalgar Square the day the host of the 2012 Olympics was announced. Apparently, proceedings got off with a 'pointless mimed performance by popstar Rachel Stevens' which 'dampened the atmosphere somewhat' after which a televised screen showed IOC president Jacques Rogge standing silent for a needless ten seconds before announcing the host city. Diamond Geezer explained, 'as the wholly unexpected word 'London' dripped from his lips, the crowd around me erupted in jubilant celebration. People gasped, and cheered, and leapt, and hugged, and waved flags in the air... and they carried on doing so for some considerable time.


Other Manufactured Happiness
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From the day London was awarded the Olympics the organising committee arranged a whole host of events to hype up an event that needed no hyping. The events were mainly naff, greeted by rain and drizzle, hosting chintzy British mediocrity, pop music and bands too bland that anyone actually likes them, and smacked of desperation; with corporate brands pasted over everything, the kind of thing that makes the Olympics feel like one of those chocolates that companies sometimes put on fliers to make you take one.

Sam Jones reported on The London Olympics Handover Party, which took place in 2008: "The MC's exhortation for the crowd to bellow their enjoyment in order to show the rest of the world "what lively, enthusiastic people we are" elicited a polite but lukewarm cheer. After a little practice, though, and a welcome appearance from the sun, the assembled masses gave a more than passable imitation of a roar."


What the **** is that? London's Logo
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Was most people's reaction to the 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee's attempt at a logo; which on first impression looked like it had been put together on the back of a fag packet by someone with a scarf over his eyes. It produced consternation amongst almost everyone who wasn't connected to the Olympic movement, and taken as an indication of the collective wisdom of the Olympic Organising Committee, suggested a calamitous games to come, where we would be lucky if the cyclists didn't at some point end up racing each other in the swimming pool.

It took me several years to figure out that the logo was not just a bunch of random zigzag shapes but actually spelt, reading left to right, and then top down, 2012. Many people have still not worked this out and may never do.

Further head scratching came with the presentation of the Games two mascots, endomorphs, with one eye for a head, called Wenlock and Mandeville respectively, suggesting that the Olympics Organising Committee were in a world of their own, and not the world whose nations had been invited to the Olympics.


The Excluded
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The London Olympics were not, despite what Seb Coe suggested for everyone. Whilst the road cycling, triathlon and marathon events were due to take place on the streets, and therefore be accessible to everyone, the 7.7 million tickets reportedly on sale were never going to stretch to a ticket for each of the 10 million Londoners. Thousands of Londoners ended up not getting a ticket, despite attempting to buy hundreds of pounds worth, whilst other people walked away with tickets for almost everything. In the meantime dignitaries were handed tickets to some of the best events on a place.

In the months leading up to the Olympics excluded Londoners, Sebastian Coe's underclass have been forewarned that they will not be able to use the public transport routes they may be used to taking, even if they have paid for an annual travel card. Adverts are scattered around London, promoting the virtues of walking or cycling to work, as if to help Londoners develop psychological tricks to deal with the humiliation they will face when they are strong armed out of their local train station.

It has been suggested that young people, the hardened types who don't have any parents, whose aggressive attitude, needed to fend off all the wolves out there, but which is going to find them doing something which prompts Her Majesty to put them up in one of Her B&Bs before long, were deprived of Lottery Fund money earmarked for them, by the government, who decided to give it to Sebastian to make his dream come true.


The Evicted
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Local businesses were forced off their land and promised salt to rub into their wounds, that is a sum of money equivalent to the value of the land their business was located on.

Unscrupulous landlords, most landlords, toyed with the idea of evicting their tenants for the period during the Olympics. Many of them went ahead and did it.


Bullying the indigenous populations out of Greater Olympic Park
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For months up to the Olympics security men have patrolled public land outside of the Olympic development and intimidated members of the public away from the public land, as if the Olympic developers were trying to annexe some kind of greater-Olympic park area, the security men like paramilitaries, working to suppress an impoverished and vulnerable indigenous population. In 2010 an African guy and an Indian guy approach me as I take photographs of the Olympic stadium, from the canal, through the wire fencing, and tell me to stop taking photographs. In 2012 two white British security people try to accost three people, one of who has a camera on him, who are standing on public property taking photos of the Olympic development.


Monopoly
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According to Matt Carr, "In 2006 Parliament passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act, which upgraded the level of brand protection to Olympic sponsors and made any unauthorised marketing or commercialism connected to the Olympics a potentially criminal offence." Furthermore, "Under the new legislation, Olympic spectators will not be allowed to post videos of Olympic events on social media, and a special 'brand police' has been empowered to scour bathrooms at Olympic facilities and remove logos of all non-sponsored brands from sinks, toilets and soap dispensers." Carr goes on to stat that the organising committee, state that, "such 'brand management' was necessary to gain the support of sponsors like Samsung, Coca Cola, Adidas, BP, MacDonalds and Acer, and prevent the taxpayer from footing any more of an Olympic bill that has already reached £11 billion and may get higher still." The International Olympic Committee's advertising revenue strategy stifles consumer choice. The official Olympic restaurant is McDonalds. A catering company serving staff working on the opening ceremony, provided chips with its fish, but was, despite staff requesting otherwise, forbidden from providing chips with anything else or alone, because McDonalds contract with the Olympics as the 'official restaurant' meant that McDs had an exclusive right, i.e. a monopoly on selling slices of fried potato in and around the Olympic venue.

In 2010, Reuters reported that police would have the power to stop people from carrying non-sponsor items, like a Burger King for example, into the Olympic Park. Keith PP rather wittily suggested: London 2012: Official food McDonald's. Official drink Coca-Cola. Official chocolate Cadbury's. Official diseases obesity and type 2 diabetes.


The Included and Their Money
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A month before the Olympics news was released about the fact that a company, which had been a monopoly to run canal boat trips to and from the Olympic site, were planning on charging £95 per person for a half hour canal boat trip from Limehouse Basin, near the River Thames, to the Olympic Park, just a few miles away. Although the bitter sting of five short of a century was to be soothed with a glass of champagne, the story, together with reports that flats were being rented out for £10,000 a week, suggested that the world's super rich were about to ascend on London and price normal people out of the market for almost everything, with perhaps the exception of baked beans and brown sauce (never popular amongst foreigners).


The Hatred
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The Olympics is one of the most ostentatious displays of a nation's wealth and status, so it is no surprise that it should be the target of those, who feel wronged by that same nation. The hatred towards Britain, and Britain has every reason to be hated, having murdered thousands of Arabs in Iraq as part of an illegal invasion, is manifest in the military soldiers who scour the Olympic park, the anti-aircraft missiles which have been erected on the top of flats in Bow, and the assortment of military instalments, which one reported called the biggest military deployment in London since World War II. The Olympic Park is starting to take on the aura of military high command.


The Investors who wont be getting their money back
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The British taxpayer 'volunteered' funds to build an Olympic village, which was sold on to the Qatari royal family, a major business force in the UK, at a loss of £275 million.

Said Joana of Hackney, "Never has so much been paid by so many for the benefit of so few."


The Olympic Spirit
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The Olympic Games were the brainchild of a Nazi sympathiser, and indeed in 1936 when the games were hosted by the Germans, under the rule of the Nazi party at the time, they were conceived as a marvellous platform for demonstrating the supremacy of the Ayrian race, had only the Ayrian race been supreme. The idea of being the best, the survival of the fittest, evokes a sense of the wild, of that carnal desire to be supreme and the gas chambers. People want to be the best because they hate themselves; and when they do not trust others, and when others do not accept them. Being the best, and wanting to be the best, despite the attention, are lonely places, destinations for people who don't feel comfortable with other people.

During the winter of 2007 British Land mounted a piece of art on building boards outside Broadgate Tower. It's difficult to make out what was being said on the art from the photograph, but essentially it concerns a child explaining that art made him think about the Olympics, which in turn inspired him to become a better person. This supposed 'message from a child' sounds suspiciously like the message that might come from a young Baron de Coubertin. Maybe you can get better at doing a particular thing, like playing tennis, but does playing better tennis make you a better person? It might be argued that we don't need any more messages like this in London inspiring us to be 'better people', we are all all right already.


Olympics Art on a British Land Building Board outside Broadgate Tower, City of London, 2007,Ravish London


Entering the Olympic Park
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Marina Hyde reported that, "Locog confirms that the army will remain for the duration of the Games, meaning that all visitors' first experience of the Olympic Park will be passing through military checkpoints. Furthermore, the organisers state that many unspecified people are "reassured" by the massive military presence. This seems the most questionable of claims." She quips, " Quite an achievement, considering that even the masterminds of the Beijing Olympics resisted the PR triumph of stationing the People's Liberation Army at the gateway to their Games. But then, which of us wants to come across as being as laissez-faire as the Chinese?"


What is due to emerge from the Olympic Park in 2014?
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It is said that a 220 acre park will emerge from the site of the 2012 Olympics. It will open in 2014. The park's designer, landscape architect, George Hargreaves said he planned to create wetlands; meadows; a concert field with room for 50,000 people.


References
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