London Olympics

Looming on the skyline of London as you head east to Stratford is the Olympic Orbit designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond. This horrid tower twisting up made of cold brutal steel, supposedly represents the spirit of Londoners as well as the harmony of the games. It does nothing of the sort.

It is so horrific that Jonathan Jones, The Guardian’s art critic tried to rationalize it by associating the binge drinking, brain cells killing, over indulgence behaviour to its design, quote: “a drunken party animal of a building” and “Colossal and imperfect, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture at the Olympic Park is the body of us all”.

No dear Sir, I take offence of such outlandish characterizations, and I take offence of Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond assuming us so feeble minded that we would believe whatever they touch turns into gold.

The problem with major sporting events like the Olympics is that they create a frenzy of publicity and dare I say pointless hoopla by the hosting nation, who understandably are looking to profit financially and build up a reputation. However this coincides with swarms of bad decisions which end up costing more than budgeted.

The cost of London Olympics this year has been reported as $14.46 billion, which is significantly more than the naively hopeful 2003 bid figure of $4 billion. This figure might come as a shock amidst UK Conservative PM David Cameron‘s call for more austerity and the subsequent cuts that have affected all public sectors across the board. This kind of mentality boggles the mind. Is reputation and superficial national glory more important than health, security and education? Do we need better teachers, doctors and researchers or people who can jump, lift, and throw?

I am a supporter of better health, I do on occasion enjoy a sporting event, and I am in astonishing awe of physical excellence and ability; however we have bigger problems than nationalism and London’s reputation which frankly would not be affected by the Olympics. The greatest dangers we face include climate change, poverty, unemployment, disease… and UK would rather spend the money on these overpriced competitions. If we are to survive we need more thinkers not bunch of sprinters.

Frankly when I watch a football match I do not think I might excel at the sport, and thus go out on a field and play, so the nonsense about Olympics promoting better health is hogwash. As for unity and promotion of peace in the world, I’m afraid you would have to get rid of the competitive part in the games, because in that stadium opening night there won’t be one flag uniting the world, but division between the nations and different cheers of national pride in multiples of languages echoing from each corner.

People of East End of London who have been so affectionately praised as the poorest in the city by the mayor Boris Johnson won’t be benefiting from these games, the private companies who have been contracted by the government to presumably and as it turned out unsuccessfully keep the costs down will. The private security firm G4S has already displayed what happens when money comes in by the bucketful and ethics go out the window, things have gone so awry that the government had to deploy the army to help out.

And let’s not forget Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond who have taken care of the art. The tower has nearly cost $40 million, $10 million of which came out of the taxpayers’ pockets, the rest was paid for by the steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal from the ArcelorMittal steel company, hence the tower is called ArcelorMittal Orbit. Don’t for a second think that this venture was for the love of art, or the love for the games, Lakshmi Mittal has kindly offered to charge visitors nearly $30 to go up the tower. And what do you get when you reach the top? Nice view of London? Surely a request for your money back; because what you will see up there won’t make you feel special, or optimistic about life, what you will see is the city of London being swallowed up by immoral private companies.

So maybe Jonathan Jones was right about one thing, and this squirming, twisting, ugly metal structure is our bodies which we have allowed to succumb to this horror by the hands of our politicians. “Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land!” (La Haine, 1995)

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