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.

India Today - - NA TION - Nir­pal Dhali­wal

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,

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