A once in a lifetime opportunity, like that special day you lost your virginity, the Olympic flame passed through Bristol on Tuesday 22nd of May. Much like losing your virginity there was a well of excitement as you wait gingerly for that special moment, a moment that may never pass again. Excitement wells up inside you as you wonder exactly what it will feel like and you mill about nervously trying to find the best position in which to receive this great honour. There is a charge of excitement in the air as you feel it coming. This, the moment you’ve been waiting all this time for is fast-approaching and you get your camera ready for the all important money shot. You hear the cheers building up as the excitement reaches a crescendo and pow! A small white blur passes before your eyes and before you know it, you’re stood there weak-kneed, confused, and thoroughly disappointed, wondering what the hell all the fuss was about.
At least, that’s how it happened in my head.
Judging by the numbers attending, for many people the event was something to be revered. I wonder how many photos were taken at the same moment that I was snapping wildly, hoping to capture something unique. How many people will frame their pictures and tell their grandchildren about the time they saw the Olympic torch in their hometown. How they will swell up with patriotic mucus as they choke on how proud they and their country are for hosting the largest sporting events on the entire planet. Unfortunately, I won’t be one of them.
For there screams a certain amount of irony as we stand around cheering at a symbol that knowingly will make this country more bankrupt as we enjoy certain ‘free’ events such as the passing of the torch. As we celebrate the country’s honour of being able to support on its shoulders this great sporting event and all the cost of throwing this grand party. The Olympics has already cost 24 billion pounds and counting, 10 times the original estimate and it’s the taxpayers that will be expected to foot the bill afterwards. True it is expected to bring in various revenue to the event itself but the only people who are really going to get fat of this are the corporations, such as its sponsors McDonalds and Coca-Cola.
It’s not the first time in the great recession that we have been thrown a bone with splinters in it. As the country chowed down on up to an 11 day holiday, the small print at the bottom of the bill suggested it would collectively cost around 5 billion in lost revenue (according to the Telegraph). This was designed to be a fundraiser for the county’s economy as it was alleged to bring in revenue and tourism, much like the Olympics and the upcoming Diamond Jubilee.
I can’t help notice the sharp taste in the back of my throat as I attempt to swallow this bitter pill. The 2004 Athens Olympics was suggested to be a significant contributor to Greece’s debt and in the current state of the global economy burying our heads in the sand, or rather beer and Olympic merchandise, is not my idea of addressing the real problems of our country’s deficit. Seems a little bare-cheeked to hark on about austerity when we are throwing billions of public money on events that really a) make the problem worse, and b) have absolutely nothing to do with benefiting the people of England. True, East London may be granted a facelift but is it worth the expense of yet more long-standing debt that the country cannot stand to absorb?
I’m sure as far as Bristol was concerned, the 2,012 lucky ticket holders that were privy to a 6 hour ‘private’ party at the amphitheatre may not agree with my bitter standpoint. But for myself and others that were treated to the free portion of the event, we’re totting up how much this ‘free’ event will end up costing the taxpayers, and why the fireworks smelt faintly of urine.