Firstly to any foreigner, notably Americans, who didn’t understand the opening ceremony, read this: “the Johnny foreigners guide to British humour“.
It would seem that Dan Boyle’s opening ceremony was not to the liking of the Tories, apparently some Tory peer described it as leftie multicultural rubbish. I presume he was pissed off by the tribute to the NHS, or the fact Chakrabarti (founder of Liberty) was seen carrying the Olympic flag. I thought to myself, well how could we make it too his liking? perhaps by getting it to pay tribute to some Tory policies.
Of course many Tory policies aren’t the sort you’d want to celebrate in front of a international audience (I doubt the Argie’s would be happy with a renactment of the sinking of the Belgrano, or the Germans with the Dambusters march). So I suppose we could have had a scene which re-enacts Thatcher stealing milk off of children? Or how about a lot of bankers dressed as pigs swilling around in vast trough of money like some sort of freak Dita Von Teese tribute act? Or how about Porky Pickles kicking disabled people out of wheel chairs? Or Osborne whipping Pasties out of the mouths of builders? Rather than Mr Bean we could have Harry Enfield doing one of his characters (Loadsa Money or Considerably richer, but not Tim-nice-but-dim, as Boris has sort of stolen that act, while David Cameron seems to be in the process of stealing you-don’t-want-to-do-it-like-that….), or have a scene where Jimmy Carr is cramming bank notes under a carpet….in the shape of Jersey! The simple fact is, the Tories, aka the Nasty party haven’t really done a lot to be proud of.
But it wasn’t just Tories who didn’t “get” the opening ceremony. NBC in America cut the tribute to the July 7th victims, presumably because the director was Muslim (they no doubt assumed he must be promoting terrorism rather than condemning it! I wonder if anyone’s tried the trick of selling them tower bridge).
But of course the big story so far, aside from a lack of British medals, is rows and rows of empty seats in some venues. I seem to recall predicting this months ago. Much like the Chinese, the British have been forced to draught in the army and teachers (again clearly this is a panicky reaction, as the Tory’s are just guessing that teachers have nothing to do over the summer….ah no!). So we’ve seen a lot of bored squadies for example showing up at the Gymnastics events (hint, Army squaddies aren’t that interested in Gymnastics, shooting, archery, wrestling, boxing, etc., yes! But not gymnastics….navy boy’s might be interested…if you know what I mean!). And it is not really surprising we’ve seen this given the Byzantine system of ticket allocation and booking that the organizers set up.
Take my example, I never booked tickets myself because when the ballot went through I had no idea what I’d be doing come the games, and I baulked at some of the ticket prices and the forms that had to be filled in. And of course the ballot meant I could wind up with thousands of pounds worth of tickets which I might not be able to pay for and ultimately not be able to attend (depending on my circumstances come games time). And I don’t seem to be alone, as a couple of comments on the Beeb (or indeed any major news outlet) shows.
Now while I can see the concept of a ballot for people who are mega organised, but the bulk of tickets should have the distributed the same way you distribute tickets for anything else put them on sale at a price people can afford to pay. A price window of say, £10 to £35 is well within the income of practically everyone in the country, so tickets on general sale at that price would ultimately have sold out.
Furthermore, in order to get around the problem of people booking tickets and not attending, then you would have a condition attached to the ticket that any no shows or failure to return the ticket in advance (say at least 48 hours) would result in a fine being imposed (say twice the ticket’s face value, so if you bought a ticket for £15 and failed to show up you’d get no refund and another £30 charged to you’re credit card). This is similar to a policy used in sports, including my sport of mountaineering, where you sometimes get problems with people booking, say mountain huts, and then never showing up, generally because they got put off by a bit of snow or rain (leaving those who couldn’t book forced to sleep outside in the snow!). While policies vary (unfortunately some clubs turn a blind eye to it, notably the French alpine huts) many will fine you for a no show or if it happens more than once, they’ll not take any further bookings for you or you’re club (and cancel all you outstanding bookings, and likely call you a big girls blouse on the phone!). One or other of these conditions would easily get around the problem of people booking tickets and not showing up.
Furthermore, everybody means everybody! The bulk of those empty seats seem to be those allocated to Olympic officials, the media and corporate sponsors. Now while the IOC and corporations seem to be pointing the finger at each other, clearly the buck stops with one of these two groups. And again, the simplest solution would have been to make clear to all groups that fines would be applied if they failed to fill seats, or hand back tickets well in advance.
Indeed, I wonder if the large number of tickets that the IOC and corporations were awarded which aren’t been taken up may have something to do with the fact that one or two of these were caught by the media trying to sell Olympic tickets on the black market, earlier in the year. My suspicion is that quite a few corporate sponsors and IOC cronies got there hands on lots of tickets that they never planned on using, but instead selling on the black market, but when they realized that the British tabloid media were on the prowl on this matter (and that some of they’re potential buyers were likely to be undercover journalists), they stopped trying to sell them, hence the empty seats.
Queues, Queues, Q’s?
Then there’s the food shortages at some venues and the long queues for drinks fountains. This can be blamed squarely on the draconian security measures being imposed, due to the government’s fear that someone wannabe jihadi will attempt a suicide attack armed with a tuna sandwich and a squirty bottle of water. Inevitably, you have people stuck in a venue for hours, you don’t let them bring in enough food and water, what are they going to do? Go looking for water/food! Do you think the authorities would therefore lay on more food/water to cope? Fat chance! That would be thinking!
But no doubt the government will warn, but what if that bottle of water turned out to be a bomb? As I’ve pointed out before, and The register deals with here, all this hype about liquid bombs is just media paranoia that anyone who knows anything remotely about chemistry can debunk (while I’m an engineer, not a chemist I know enough about the topic to see the obvious flaw in the gov’s paranoia). There are good practical reasons why the military or industrial users of explosives prefer to use solid explosives because they are easier to handle and safer (i.e. they don’t go off except when they are supposed too, in war its most unprofessional to kill you’re own men, its considered far more sporting to let the enemy do that!). Also, liquid explosives (or flammable liquids in general) tend to come with very pungent odors, as anyone whose ever handled acetone, hydrogen peroxide or hydrazine will know (i.e. they stink to high heaven and in some cases the vapours are actually toxic!). Indeed, even petrol or kerosene stinks. Is someone seriously going to tell me that some Jihadi (likely covered in chemical burns and puking his guts up from the fumes) is going to sneak something like this through security in a little plastic bottle? No chance!
Government by SAPS
Ultimately what we see here is an example of trying to run something by committee. A group of ill informed save-ass types make a arbitrary decision more to cover themselves than anything (what I refer to as Save Ass Policy Scheme or SAPS for short), which has huge knock on effects, which they are then left to deal with later, by the usual running around in a last minute panic.
Ryanair fills their planes, hotels regularly achieve near full capacity in high season and numerous music venues regularly sell out acts that most of us would rather eat the album cover than attend (such as Madonna!). If they can do it, really, selling out the Olympics should be a no brainer!