Saturday, 14 July 2012

What they didn't tell us to expect about the Olympics

The mood around the Olympics has turned quite unpleasant over the past few days.

We've already heard loud complaints over the pricing of tickets and the messy allocation process, and the way draconian rules are being enforced to stay sweet with the corporate sponsors. It's prompted a lot of us in London to think that we ought to just forget the games are taking place in our city and concentrate on the events on TV.

But it's becoming hard to take that attitude. We're being bombarded with messages from Transport for London to expect a couple of weeks of chaos, long waits and crowded trains and buses. There are indications that people are going to be herded around the transport hubs like cattle entering an abattoir. Markings are appearing on roads to tell cars, buses and taxis to stay out of the empty lanes, which are reserved for officials whizzing between events.

People going to the Olympic Park are being told to expect the type of waits they would expect at airport security. Parts of London will be flooded with uniforms, a lot of them military. We can expect a makeshift army camp in the East End and they've placed missiles on top of a block of flats.

I don't recall any warnings about all this when London was bidding for the games, or when it won them back in 2005. I do recall a bunch of politicians and sporting bigwigs telling us how great it would be for the city, regenerate a swathe of East London and give us a couple of weeks in which admiring eyes would be on us from all over the world. But none of them told us the price for the people who live here (and that's without the big increase in the cost of staging the Games).

I can't help thinking that if all this had been brought up in 2003-04 there would have been a lot more opposition to London even trying to get the Games, probably enough to wreck our chances in the bidding process. And now we would all be having a laugh at the prospect of Paris being messed up for a month.

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

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