Misc

SAY NO TO THE LONDON OLYMPICS

David Aaronovitch gives his backing to the government’s support of a London Olympics bid. I don’t.

I do think it would be great to have the world’s top sporting event in the UK and I don’t buy those stale stingy arguments that the money would be better spent on ____ (insert preferred single issue) than on such a magnificent occassion. But I can’t agree with Aaronovitch when he reluctanctly says: “I have become reconciled to the fact that nowhere else in Britain would be awarded the games. It’s London or nothing, and nothing comes of nothing.”

Strange that Aaro’s enthusiasm for the London Games comes from his enjoyment of the recent Commonwealth Games held in Manchester – an event widely praised from every perspective. That superbly organised and supported event in the heartland of British sport is one of the many arguments in favour of NOT putting on the Olympics in London.

There is nothing to suggest that the International Olympic Committee would reject out of hand any bid that came from a non-capital city ( remember Salt Lake, LA?) and scores of reasons why London is the last place we should be offering to the world. In this ludicrously over-centralised state of ours, London is now suffering from the effects of insisting on being the centre of everything. I have little time for the whingeing of Londoners about their transport system (how many other UK cities have publicly funded underground rail systems and such extensive regional train networks?) but if it is really so bad why the hell does the government want to invite the world to share it?

There is a long list of reasons why London does not deserve the honour of being our bidding city – the city is overcrowded, suffers from inflated property prices and already enjoys far too much favour from central government and is swimming in investment.

But the best reason against London is that there are so many other better places in the country. The England football team, temporarily freed from the misery of having to play at a half-full Wembley in front of half-interested crowd have lapped up playing at Sunderland, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester and elsewhere. Yet the government has give the green light to the hugely over-priced New Wembley.

If the Games have the ability to transform cities and towns than lets take it to places that need transforming. Manchester’s Olympic bid failed for several reasons – a major factor was that the government in London never gave it wholehearted support – now they are ready to put millions behind a bid for the capital. What a surprise.

Yet the city and the region around Manchester has plenty of space to build the facilities needed and crucially the North West has the added advantage of being the real heartland of British sport – with people who would revel in being visitied by sports fans from across the world. If the Olympics does have a boost on the local economy (a debatable point I am told) why not give a fillup to a region that needs it? Indeed the modern Olympic games involves so many events spread over such a large area that there is no reason why Yorkshire and the North East could not feature in a bid making it Northern Games.

Its too late – its not going to happen this time. The government has gone for London. Personally I think Northerners should take the same approach to this bid as London did to Manchester’s — ignore them, hope they fail and prepare for our turn. I hope the likes of Steve Cram, Bobby Charlton and other Northern sporting heroes won’t give their backing to this bid. Say no to the London Olympics and build the Northern alternative!

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