All entries for Friday 28 September 2007

September 28, 2007

Why I Hate The Olympics

If you know me, you’ll know I’m not a sports fan, so the Olympics is of practically zero interest to me: I won’t watch it on TV, I won’t go to London to see something live, all it will do is keep me out of London for two weeks wherever possible. But I’m not bitter or angry about it for that reason. I’m not one of those people that goes “They’re spending my taxes on something I don’t want! How dare they!”, even if I did get increasingly pissed off by the (predominatly London-based) media’s overwhelmingly positive attitude towards London’s bid in comparison to thier universal derision of Manchester’s.

You see, even though I don’t care about sport, it’s a big thing for a lot of people, and this is a chance for us to host the biggest sporting event in the world, featuring the top athletes at the peak of thier careers gathered together for an amazing event. It’s a big, impressive, and worthwhile thing. Afterall, sport is one of the pillars of our society: the sports and the arts account for the majority of our recreational activity, and have done since Roman times and earlier.

Some of you may see where this is going.

Because the Arts are another pillar of our society, so you have to wonder, what’s the Arts-world equivalent of the Olympics, what’s that big event that brings people of together from all over the world to celebrate it. Well for a start it’s not a moving event, it’s stuck in one place. So we can’t bid to get it over here then? Well actually, it already is. The biggest Arts festival in the world is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Sounds like marketing gumpf, you’ve probably heard it a million times, but let it sink in for a second the biggest arts festival in the world – and that’s not even including the Book Festival, Film Festival and International Festival that all overlap it.

But here’s the problem. Every year, ticket prices for Fringe shows go up. Every year, accommodation costs for people that want to stay there rise, as landlords rent thier properties out for 3-5 times the normal rate. The performers arn’t getting rich either. Most make a loss as the venue charge increasingly higher sums of money to rent increasingly delapidated performance rooms to people wanting to put on a show. Slowly but surely attending the festival, either as a punter or a performer, is being priced out of the range of more and more people every year. Meanwhile the goverment spend nearly half a million quid on an Olympics logo while doing nothing for the Fringe.

The Olympics are costing us 2 billion pounds. And that’s the conservative estimate. Figures of closer to 9 billion are what many are claiming to be the true cost. And for that we get something that will only be used for two weeks ever. Sure, it’ll include redevelopment work that will benefit people in the area and there’ll be a load of new sporting venues that will sit empty until being sold off after the event but still.
Imagine what even one billion invested in Edinburgh for the benefit of the festivals would bring. Better transport links, more accommodation, purpose build venues, renovation of existing venues. And while some of this would serve a lesser purpose 11 months of the year, at least it’ll be used on an annual basis, and for twice as long as the Olympic stuff to boot.

And that’s why I really hate the Olympics at the moment, because we’re pissing billions up against the wall to get the biggest sporting event in the world in our country just one time, while we already have the biggest arts event in the country every single year, and we’re losing it and doing nothing about it. It makes me feel ill, to be honest. Lets make the most of what we have before we go looking for something else eh?


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