London 2012: Welcome to the Idiot Games
Tanya Gold, Guardian UK
Limo wars, flag wars, logo wars - Britain is playing host to one giant sports day for the world's most powerful people.
omorrow sees the anti-Olympic protest, which is in London's Mile End Park and includes deputations from cross citizens, who are presumed to wear small knitted hats and to hate everything, especially stick-throwing and joy. (Do come along.)
Unless, of course, as conspiracy theorists contend, the protest will be annihilated by teenage G4S storm-troopers carrying microwave weapons. (Perhaps G4S are more of a danger to themselves?) We have heard complaints about cleaners living in box rooms, and evil sponsors, and we have learned what a militarist dictatorship feels like - it feels like an airport. Now we are in the patriotic backwash, as journalists watch people doing the same thing at the same time and attempt to analyse it, which is futile because it is so simple. The Olympic Games is a Mexican wave, and if a wave feels like unity, then so does any act that everyone can engage in, including death. It feels almost too late to say that many communal endeavours excite me, but men throwing sticks do not.
Boo, you say. But I write for those who see the Olympics as a giant sports day that has screamed unasked out of the unconscious, with additional economic repercussions, and who would probably enjoy it more if there had been less hypocrisy. I cannot conclude my anti-Olympic sentiments without mentioning Atos, sponsors of the Paralympics, and the company responsible for testing, or rather removing, disability living allowance. I will only say that if the Olympic mascots, two one-eyed drips of steel called Wenlock and Mandeville, applied to Atos for disability living allowance, which is surely the inalienable right of all cyclops, they probably wouldn't get it.
Now it is here, the only sensible course is to treat the Games as a fascinating anthropological experiment, as people who would normally avoid London arrive to participate in the "Stupid Olympics". The most fun so far was watching Mitt Romney, whose name translated into German is almost, but not quite, "With Stupid", call Ed Miliband "Mr Leader". This is all good, but it is not worth £9bn and it is not a legacy unless Mr Leader adopts Mr Leader as his full-time nickname, which I hope he does. Almost as fun was the North Korean meltdown over the wrong flag flying at the football - Flag Wars (Heat 1). I hoped that the North Koreans had better things to worry about, including the possible existence of a new first lady, or Comrade Wife, called Ri Sol-ju, but they do not.
The Taiwanese are also annoyed, because China made the terrified Regent Street Happy Flag Depository take down the Taiwanese flag, possibly because Hamleys can't afford to lose the Chinese embassy account (Flag Wars - Heat 2).
This is all Playmobil diplomacy, and it is almost as wonderful as watching the Eurovision song contest morph into a metaphor for no one being over the Franco-Prussian war, as it always does. The possibilities for chaos were symbolised when the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, attempted to ring a bell today; it fell apart, made a woman scream and the scene is now available on YouTube with a disco mix. When asked about Hunt's "mishap with the bell end", the mayor of London said he was "head down doing other things".
Then there is the arrival in London of heads of state who were told they could not travel to the opening ceremony in a crocodile of rival limousines (Limo Wars), but had to congregate at Buckingham Palace and get on a bus: the world's wackiest school trip. It even had monitors. To have so many tyrants collected together that they have to travel in a pack is hardly democratic, but watching them likewise tyrannised is gratifying.
The new Serbian president, Tomislav Nikolic, said in advance he would definitely not shake hands with, and so presumably did not sit next to, Kosovo's prime minister, Hashim Thaçi, and hopefully there were other fights. Who sat at the front with the Queen and who sat at the back and threw Rice Krispies at Michelle Obama? As I write we don't know, but it is all fascinating.
What of the athletes? I think they are ill-served by the coverage so far, which is segueing, inevitably, into drooling. There have been disgusting articles about the sex lives of swimmers, and the gay dating app (OK, dating is a euphemism) Grindr had to deny that it crashed for 24 hours on Monday because the athletes arrived at their fortified village and fell on top of each other. This prurience will doubtless ebb as the athletes start throwing sticks, but the International Olympic Committee didn't help by announcing that it will not spot-check competitors' underwear for unauthorised logos (Logo Wars), although if they drop their shorts they may be dragged into a room by G4S stormtroopers and a representative of the Daily Mail, or at least fined.
It goes on. Paul Allen's Octopus, a yacht so huge it makes the other ya