Sunday, 29 July 2012

The odd effect of watching the Olympics

Having the Olympics in London is having an odd effect.

I've been sceptical about the Games, sharing the irritation at the prospect of traffic jams, clogged public transport, the fact that hardly anyone I know obtained tickets, the bullying on behalf of sponsors and over-the-top security. A couple of things yesterday added to it: seeing all those empty seats in the auditorium for sessions that were supposedly sold out; and having to go through airport style security at the National Gallery because someone assumed that the Olympics is going to make terrorist want to blow up a lot of paintings.

But I've tried to ditch it. I was genuinely interested in the opening ceremony, and my only complaint was that it went on so late that I fell asleep during Seb Coe's speech and missed the climax. And yesterday I watched a lot of sport - hours of cycling, some of the gymnastics, women's basketball, a bit of swimming and a couple of bouts of boxing. It's all stuff in which I would never usually have any interest, but because it's such a big event for London I've got a mild compulsion to sit in front of the TV and watch the exertions.

I suspect it is having a similar effect on a lot of people. The Olympics always draws a lot of attention, but it's even more so this time because it's in the UK, so we're watching sport that we've never watched before and will probably never watch again.

It provides a holiday for our minds, a break from our usual interests that will have us engrossed for a couple of weeks; and when it's over we'll go back to taking no interest in all 90% of the sports on show. But we should feel a bit better for it … as long as Team GB picks up a few medals.

Mark Say's collection of fiction, Perversities of Faith, is available on and Also check out

No comments:

Post a Comment