Anyone with a spare hour should read the London Olympics Act 2006, the instrument whereby Parliament gave legal authority to a contract bet, that contract imposes obligations on the Government and severe restrictions on what all UK citizens can do. It creates a criminal offence with fines up to £20,000 if any of us break the terms meant to protect the IOC logo, and sponsors like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Heineken.
If anyone is thinking of baking cakes for a bring-and-buy sale, with the Olympic rings on top, think again, you could find the polis tapping you on the shoulder. Workers at the Olympic canteen site revolted when told that if they wanted a burger and chips, or just chips, from any caterer other than McDonald’s, the answer was no. You only get chips if it is fish and chips. McDonald’s ban was lifted for the workers, but remains in force elsewhere.
Like most people, I shall watch the world’s athletes compete. But superb athletics cannot hide the fact that the Olympics is a racket. London wasn’t “awarded” the Olympics – it bid for the franchise, and like all other franchisees has to stick by the terms of that franchise, and pay for it.
The president of the IOC and other members of that international committee will bask in the glory of the games, get VIP treatment from the moment they step off their aircraft (no waiting at Heathrow for them) get whisked from those five-star Hyde Park hotels to the main venue the other side of London without once encountering a red traffic light, and have the best seats and meals in the house. All free.
In fact, the IOC, whose claim is to organise the Olympics, organises nothing, pays nothing towards the costs, and rakes in the cash from sponsors. It in turn, under that 2006 Act, can take action to prevent anyone, even if it is a small shop hundreds of miles from London, borrowing or seeming to borrow their logos and products.
Those of us who live miles from London are paying the costs of the organisation of the games. Once London was “awarded” the Olympics it was an open public cheque book, not to mention the diversion of Lottery cash from community groups which closed, because once committed, the Olympics had to be funded no matter the cost. And which is the only organisation in the country with an open cheque book? Not Boris Johnson’s London Assembly, but the UK Government. As the Government doesn’t have £12 billion ready money, it has to borrow it from the financial markets, and we taxpayers will have to service the debt payments and, ultimately, pay it all back.
To meet the contractual obligations made to the IOC, on security, we are now going to put into the field more troops than we have on the fighting front line in Afghanistan. I doubt if the squaddies guarding the Olympics will take much pleasure from doing so knowing that some, soon after the members of the IOC swan off to hook some other sucker country, will be getting the sack.
There must be a better way of bringing the world’s best athletes together in competition than this racket where the real gold, the millions upon millions, goes to this self-selecting group of IOC freeloaders.
Up for new cups
Scottish football’s main concern isn’t about where the new Rangers will play next season. It’s about the television money without which, we are told, five other SPL clubs could go into administration.
The TV deal required a guarantee of at least four Old Firm games a season. On the face of it, with Rangers in the third division, that’s not possible. But a little imagination and willingness to accommodate the Old Firm’s crucial role in the retention of the TV deal should square what appears to be an impossible downward financial circle.
First, there is the Glasgow Cup, a prize over which the city’s senior teams once battled. It still exists, now competed for by youth teams. Restore its old status, make it a Rangers v Celtic competition, home and away game between the Old Firm, and you have two of the four games needed by Sky and ESPN. A third division team playing the SPL champions-elect will add spice to the televised game.
Then there’s the Queen’s Jubilee. Let them, this year, contest a Jubilee Cup, home and way again, paid for by the Scottish Government. Or we could have the Commonwealth Games Charity Shield, with the proceeds of the gates going to Scottish charities . . .
The SFL and the SFA could seed their League Cup and Scottish Cup over the next three years, so that there is a good chance of a Rangers v Celtic match in each competition. TV problems solved.