Thoughts about the Olympics in Brisbane

Having experienced quite a bit about the Olympics while I was working in Beijing during their Olympics I have rather strong feelings about the lunacy of wanting them in our fair city of Brisbane.

My introduction to the Olympics started about 8 months before they actually happened with a bunch of TV technicians who arrived at the huge International School I was working in (I was called a Production Engineer, and was responsible for all the stage sound and lighting stuff, in a school that had about 7 stages and arenas).

These technicians were there to train a large number of locals in how to use TV cameras as there simply were not enough trained people available locally to cover the many events of the Olympics. And a damned nuisance they were too! I was basically working a 70 hour week, as we had events to cover that started at about 8 am and other events (rock concerts, talks, film shows etc. that went on until about 10 pm) and to have these guys and their many students milling around the place was tricky. Curiously enough, they worked for a British commercial TV company (ITV) who in the UK were responsible for ordinary TV programming.

As things went on, I discovered that there were no end of companies who simply worked on the Olympics, going from city to city as it was decided which city would have the next Olympics – TV people, physio-therapists, uniform makers, builders, decorators and so on, an almost endless collection of people whose only work was the Olympics,, and who earned damn good money from their work.

In other words, for a lot of companies, the Olympics was how they earned their living.

As time went by, I discovered more and more about the way in which the Olympics work, and how – to be honest – the athletes were the industrial equivalent of the coke in coke bottles, in other words, their presence was the justification for the rest of the huge, money earning, circus that was the commercial side of the Olympics. And was the whole reason for the Olympics as far as I could see.

The other side of the Olympics is the building of huge arenas in which the various sports will occur. In Beijing this happened too, of course, and since the Olympics most of the huge arenas have rotted away as they are simply too damn big for normal use – Huge, expensive white elephants.

The other lousy thing about the Olympics is the way it snarls up the traffic. In Beijing there was a section of the road which was reserved for the cars and buses that were ferrying the athletes and officials from event to event, or from the “village” to the arenas. But not all the vehicles – of course – stuck to that lane, so the awful traffic jams that Beijing was famous for, were made even worse.

If the Olympics should continue (and for my part, I see no reason why they should), then there should be a permanent summer games stadia and village (probably in Greece) and a permanent winter venue (probably in Russia) and the TV crews, sound crews, maintenance crews and so on will all be permanent staff, employed by the Olympics and the whole thing continued thus.

In other words, instead of building totally useless stadia, training loads of locals to do work that disappears as soon as the Olympics are finished and so on, we have a set of stadia, villages and technicians all trained to work on the Olympics and the whole thing becomes a normal commercial operation – which, of course it absolutely is!

Also, it might be fun to run the modern Olympics in the manner of the original ones – ie. the athletes have to be nude, they have to be only male and all wars have to cease for the duration of the games. Now that would be fun!

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