There has been a lot of debate recently amongst the media and left leaning campaign groups regarding the corporate hold on the Olympics. As geographers we have an interest in issues of global concern and the corporate hold these groups have on events such as the olympics should be something up for discussion.
So far there’s been the Mcdonalds embargo on chips without the accompaniment of fish, the massive G4S blunder, with the failing security company also linked to gross human rights abuses in Israeli prisons in Palestine and then of course you have permanent sponsors and Dow Chemicals alleged involvement in the 1984 chemical disaster in Bhopal, India.
All of this, added to which the probable transport nightmare and marginalisation of local communities to build the olympic park, while failing to give anything back has spurred Tiernan Douieb, of the Huffington Post to write his tongue in cheek article ‘Don’t forget it’s your OlympicsTM’.
So where are we, the humble and proud British citizen with a half an inch of ethical compassion expected to stand with the Olympics on our doorstep? If we claim to have one ethical bone in our body should we therefore embargo the whole event and join the cynics on the sidelines?
Actually, two weeks ago, I went to see the torch when it ventured to my home town. I have the photo evidence to prove it on my phone. It was a quintessential moment of national pride. I have been regaling the story to any available ears since. We got up at 5, the sun was shining (for once), and somewhat surprisingly, despite it being 7.30 in the morning, Chelmsford town centre was heaving. Everyone. Everyone, was happy, and embracing the ‘Once in a Lifetime Event’. Even one particular Renault clio driver who got caught up in the traffic and started entertaining us all with his steering wheel dance. Sad to say, and what really made the difference, was the buzz coming out of the corpoarate floats. You can always rely on Coca-Cola to kick-start a party.
At the end of the day the Olympics costs millions. The sad fact of the matter is – no Sponsorship, no event. And while cynics will report that the actual economic boost could quite possibly be disappointing, if economic impacts are the only real measure for success, then we’re all doomed.
Funnily enough, I won’t be here on Friday to see it all kicking off. I’m flying to New Delhi tomorrow. But I’ll be turning in, supporting out nations athletes who have been working so hard to bring it home. Good Luck London. I wish you the best.
*Edited for inaccuracies, 27.06.2012