IRONY of CELEBRATION
Many Londoners weren’t overjoyed about the city hosting its third Olympics. But now that it’s here, they are putting on their best show.
Like many Londoners, I had not been looking forward to the Olympics. Over the past years, the cost of the project rose to an astronomical £ 9 billion ( Rs 76,500 crore) to be paid from our taxes— at enormous inconvenience to us. Hundreds of thousands of extra visitors will be in our city, adding even more pressure to its groaning transport services and infrastructure, while Soviet- style zili lanes were established to enable chauffeur- driven sporting stars, bureaucrats and elite to be ferried quickly to the venues without being clogged in traffic with the rest of us. To add to the humiliation, we were then informed that ticketing for much of the Games would be monopolised by the suited, soulless, corpulent corporation- wallahs whose logos and branding were splashed all over our capital like a torrent of bird- droppings.
Rather than a festival of sport and human endeavour, we braced ourselves for a fortnight’s celebration of capitalism. And on top of all that, we’ve had one of the dreariest, rain- sodden summers in memory. Our fears about the Olympics were perfectly articulated by a friend of mine who described the event as “a long, expensive party we’re not invited to, for which we’ve paid, during which we have to leave our car at home and walk everywhere”.
And the fears only rose as the Games started. Last week, the North Korean women’s football team took to the field as the authorities raised the South Korean flag above them. Surely, there isn’t a more sinister faux pas one can make during an international spectacle? This gaffe only made us cringe deeper when, on July 26, our bumbling shaggy- haired mayor, Boris Johnson, took to the stage in Hyde Park to shout banal sub- Obama declarations of “Are we ready? Yes, we are!”
And then came the opening ceremony. For all its wonder and anarchic creativity, the greatest miracle it wrought— more splendid than the fiery Olympic rings it forged so magnificently — was that it transformed our souls. Suddenly, confronted by the berserk,