8 Aug 2012

What do the Olympics tell us about ourselves?

That we are builders, designers, craftsmen and women; that we can organise; that we can train, set our hearts upon an ambition, and deliver it. It is who we are. We may not, many of us, wallow in the extremes of empire, but together we are a consequence of it.

This medium sized island state once somehow administered, dominated, exploited, developed, half the then known land mass of the world. Today it is different.

We are here, and our talent is dispersed across a very different world.

Our architects are working in Shanghai, Sao Paulo, and Mumbai. Our scientists are with the Hadron Super Collider at Cern; with the Mars landing project in California; designing the next generation of airliners in Toulouse; combatting climate change in  northern Norway. We have no limit to our export.

We have known sporting prowess all our lives in every aspect of the game, but it has never before come together like this. In the Olympic ideal we have invested. We have invested vast and vital pennies of every cash strapped man, woman, and child in Britain.

In so doing we have created a moment of nigh incredible excellence not just for us – though the names Farah, Ennis, Hoy, Wiggins, Rutherford, Pendleton and so many more will linger long – but for the world – to come together in the pursuit and delivery of extreme achievement.

So where does it take us in the afterglow? Who shall we be when Bolt is long home in Jamaica? How can we enable what we have done to galvanise the change so many yearn for in their lives?

Shall we, who continue to build other people’s cars so finely, return to building the bicycle – whose technology we have done so much to develop?

Can we, who can design and build the best aquatic centre, the best velodrome, the best of Olympic complexes, now turn our hearts, minds, and hands to building homes and living circumstances fit for a state that has achieved so much?

Can we turn our vast skills to making things beyond the Olympic Games that the world needs and that we have the innate national personality to conceive and deliver?

Or will history tell us that this multi-embered cauldron was only lit by a chance flash in the pan?

 This does not look like a dying gasp, but like a call for the liberation of minds caught in a belief that life is fueled by derivative trading, and that fortunes flow from super software alone rather than from the vital accompaniment of the hard graft of practical application, manufacture, and construction. This is what this Olympic Games tells us.

As the political classes obsess about keeping power without risking too much change, and the banking classes wriggle between, risk, ridicule, and riches, could we not pull in a new direction? Could we not gather in the slipstream of athletic prowess and call up the best in each of us, for all?

How can we allow such poverty and waste, when we have proved we can do so much?

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64 reader comments

  1. Philip Edwards says:


    Nice try, but ultimately a load of utter bollocks.

    The Olympics have done next to nothing for this country except a minor pr triumph for Lahndhan and the fat moron who “administers” it. It has also helped to sideline the root deep corruption of the place and the establishment who own it.

    These are the same people who preside over a system that gives us a minimum of 2.5 unemployed and 15 million in poverty, who abandoned swathes of the nation when they deinudustrialised, who STILL haven’t given justice to the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, who gave us banking, media and police corruption, who have accumulated more and more wealth for themselves at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens, who will even steal health, education, housing and welfare to their own profit. And you think a three weeks drugs fest in Hackney makes everything alright?

    Here’s a suggestion for you and people who think like you on this issue: GROW UP.

    Even Michael Heseltine had the nous to say nothing will improve in Britain until the south east monopoly is broken. Don’t hold your breath.

    1. jon snow says:

      Philip..growing up is not an obvious solution..we, including you, are all trying to do that with varying success. Why don’t you actually articulate a sensible plan then to realise your own ambitions for the ‘shut out’ and the dispossessed instead of behaving like a grumpy old man whose done a lot too much growing up!

    2. toffer99 says:

      Spoken like a true cynic.

    3. Onix says:

      Very well put Philip my feelings and sentiments exactly.

    4. e says:

      Philip “this country” what do you mean by the term? For me this is the land and its people. JS is talking from a position of influence over the heads of those who currently ‘manage’ this country – over the heads of those inclined towards ignoring people and only acknowledging, as a given, an economic system which currently works to their own shockingly grand advantage. He deserves better than your simple “bollocks” on this one.

    5. Philip Edwards says:


      I appreciate you taking the time to respond, especially as you are still on holiday.

      But really, tsk tsk, the “grumpy old man” line simply won’t wash, especially as you failed to post another response of mine providing details of drugs cheating. I’m not complaining about your failure to post it – it’s your blog after all – but it does give an indication of your own approach on the issue. So be it.

      It’s you that simply stamps his foot, not me. I merely point out the facts that obviously make you uncomfortable – to which I say: tough.

      The fact is your London-oriented stuff (very often quasi-religious self righteous too) often has no bearing on the way this country is owned and run and to whose advantage. Your Olympic comments are fairly typical. These “games” are a cynical, drugs infested joke and they have been held on the backs of money stolen from other areas of the country who need it.

      All of which makes your scatter gun approach irresponsible. It’s YOU in the public eye, not me. Let’s see you produce “an articulate plan” or run for parliament. It’ll make a difference from simply wringing (or washing) your hands a la Pontius Pilate.

    6. Robert says:

      Philip, I can sort of understand your resentment in the current circumstances but as for the olympics being just a “drugs fest” well sorry mate but a good friend of mine competed in these games and I know for a fact that no drugs were involved with him just lots of personal sacrifices and sheer hard work.

      As for the deep corruption of the establishment – well if people were more interested in what the establishment were up to and read, watched or listened to a ‘serious’ news source and did something about it instead of just being preoccupied with the ‘footie’ and who’s on some celebrity twat show, then things might be different. At the end of the day ‘the people’ get the ‘corrupt’ establishment they deserve.

      I think it’s you who needs to grow up matey.

  2. Anthony Jemmett says:

    If I could string a few sentences together, that would be exactly what I would like to say. excellent piece.

  3. Robert Taggart says:

    Steady on John !

    After the Games have passed into history Blighty should take the opportunity to ‘chilax’ !

    The Olympic Games should have been the last such event for us to host – for a generation – to let others take the strain in future ! But no, Coe and co have conspired to bring the World Athletics Championships here, in 2017, to Stratford – again !!

    That is not to mention the Rugby League World Cup ! – 2013, the Commomwealth Games in Glasgow – 2014, the Rugby Union World Cup – 2015, The Cricket World Cup – 2019.

    Never thought one would say this… “THANKYOU FIFA” !

  4. Ross Mac says:

    A fantastic blog Jon.

    @ Philip – what a cynical world you live in. Come down to London and experience the joy, excitement and optimism that these games have brought us. It may well change your pessimistic and very sad views. You sound like you want to be a revolutionary but yet can’t see the revolution right in front of your face. Come comrade, open your eyes and join in with the fun.

    1. Robert Taggart says:

      RM. Oneself has been down, albeit only to the Olympic Park and then ‘into’ Orbit !
      Wishing one could have been there for the opening ceremony, the Closing Ceremony, the Athletics (Mens 100 metres final) and maybe one or two other events.
      But, such was the cock-up (ballot, tranches…) and what feels like corruption (prices, empty seats…) regarding tickets – this provincial punter and all too many others stood no chance.
      For the record, one was glad to leave the sticky (weather – dry, warm c.24C) and polluted environs of ‘the big smoke’ !

    2. Onix says:

      @Ross Mac
      [quote] Come down to London and experience the joy, excitement and optimism that these games have brought us.[qoute/]

      I live in west london, and I can assure you not everybody I talk to has,is,or indeed are ex-pressing these sentiments.

      As to Philip’s views why do you interpritate them
      to be “sad views” are we not all intitled to an opinion with out predious?

  5. Bill Hall says:

    Beautifully said Jon! As a self-confessed Olympic cynic, even I can see the value of what’s been achieved over the last few years and the need to harness this energy. It would be wonderful if the current leaders of this country (and the City of London!) don’t just use this to promote their own shabby careers. The irony afterall being that it was the other party who brought the Olympics to London and ensured the current crop of athletes had the massive injection of cash which made their wins possible.

    For me the most uplifting aspect of this ‘sportsfest’ has been, as you said, the way in which it has showcased our designers and architects, British organisational skills, and the special qualities of this nation as a whole. Watching the opening ceromony was a truly moving experience and the athletes have maintained that wave of national pride. Like you, I hope that this resurgence of energy and self-belief is not just a false dawn and can provide the impetus for the future.

  6. Misery Guts. says:

    All the games have achieved is to make a few rich even richer, and, no doubt, created a lot more sirs for us to worship in the future,,like hell.
    Millions over-budget, G4S a total disaster, and publicity pics ad nauseum of a the pathetic royals, Conman Coe, Boring Beckham and his stick, and the clown called Boris.
    Will the economy benefit, will the man in the street notice any benefit? NO. All in all a waste of time and money, unless you had your snout in the trough at the start. Can’t wait for the finish of this debacle.

    1. jonsnow says:

      Misery guts you are beyond cure!!

  7. Meg Howarth says:

    Sorry to be a party-pooper but I’ve not been following ‘the Olympics’. To the contrary. I turned off Channel 4 News last night for the first time ever. Coming on top of BBC Radio 3 (!) spinning that we’re all ‘obsessed’ with the Olympics, I simply couldn’t, and can’t take any more Olympimania – a pity, as I missed the interview with Tommie Smith, but at least I can watch that online and avoid the rest. Several times since the ‘Games’ started, I’ve felt like screaming – turn on radio or C4 news and all you get is Olympics. Meantime, over in the real world… Syria/west’s anti-Iranian proxy war; Mail, where a young couple were recently stoned to death for alleged adultery; Moscow’s Pussy Riot travesty of a trial (‘Feminism is a mortal sin’ according to the prosecutor)… and much much more. Meantime, back in the UK: obscene property-price inflation continues to mock citizens’ need for homes, while the Olympics’ Show and Event security staff directing visitors at London’s St Pancras Station to the ‘Javelin’ trains to the Olympic Park are working 12-hour/8-day shifts, with a total 1hr daily break (2x15min/1x30min).

    NB The Olympics have cost several times MORE than Mars probe.

    1. josnow says:

      Don’t tell me Meg: you would rather have opent it on a 4th Trident?! We don’t disagree often, but profoundly we do on this one!

    2. Onix says:

      @Meg Howwarth,

      you are not alone. . I watch C4 among others for “World News” hosted by a great team, but it strickes me as a media frenzie this last few weeks with the Olympics, its as if nothing else is going on in the world. back to aljazeera until such times.

    3. Meg Howarth says:

      Thanks for responding, Jon. As a result, I decided to watch the 800m & 200m races yesterday. David Rudisha’s running was indeed poetry in motion, beautiful to watch. (Was pleased my hunch that he was Masai was correct. I was privileged to be a VSO in northern Tanzania, whence I arrived via a bus-trip from Kenya’s Arusha). But I wasn’t interested in who won and found the 200m too obviously competitive.

      Having re-read the blog, there’s no doubting you’re on an Olympic high. Your optimism and humanity shine through, eg ‘How can we allow such poverty and waste, when we have proved we can do so much?’ Alas I don’t share the optimism. The international power elite doesn’t have the same inner life as you or share your humane outlook. Never has. It isn’t bothered about the betterment of mankind (except a little bread ‘n circuses to keep itself in power), only about its shallow baubles and ever-greater wealth. That’s why I’m instinctively wary of all displays of top-down orchestrated sentiment – music to the ears of our rulers. A fairer, better world will come from the bottom-up, with social media playing a significant part.

      But ‘innate national personality’? No. Optimism run riot!

    4. Meg Howarth says:

      PS As to what I’d rather the £11-£13bn had been spent on: the purchase of homes for the UK’s 1m citizens currently on housing waiting-lists/young people forced to live with parents because they can’t afford the rent/purchase price of a home for themselves. A decent home is a basic human need, along with food and clothing. The Olympics money would have gone some way to changing that.

  8. Paul Boniface says:


    An excellent piece. If we had more opublic commentators like you and, God forbid, more polititians we’d be better able to get out of this mess.

    It constantly amazes me that hardly anyone in this country wants to talk us up. The press and the politicians seem only keen to emphasize the negatives.

    I’m not saying we should live in cloud cuckoo land and ignore the issues but our present econmic situation is analgous (but not anywhere near as serious, of course)to war. In war you have to fight and your leaders have to lead. Can you imagine where we would be now if Churchill had employed the sort of negative rhetoric that is constantly being thrown at us today by politicians and press.

    Yours is a voice of hope. Maybe not Churchillian but there is certainly a touch of the “broad, sunlit uplands” about it.

    Well done

    Paul Boniface

  9. Sean Fleming (@flemingsean) says:

    “How can we allow such poverty and waste, when we have proved we can do so much?”

    I think the very same thing when I reflect upon the Mars Curiosity landing and the millions of people on our planet who still don’t have clean water, or enough food.

  10. Mark Iliff says:

    The Olympics – and the jubilee before it – seem to have made it OK for most people to become professional spectators, instead of working to build the country’s wellbeing. Cheering on others takes little effort and produces little benefit.

  11. nassar says:

    What the games have done is given a large amount of people pride in being British, in supporting the country and getting behind the union jack. Perhaps we have to many unresolved issues as a country to make this unity work . but I for one will enjoy it while I can.

  12. Graham says:

    It gives our politicians a chance to help us build a land fit for heroes. Will they take up that challenge or carry on regardless?

  13. Steve Willis says:

    It’s a wonderful Olympics; if you’re an official with a big badge and a complimentary car in your own little traffic lane, or a Member of Parliament with a free ticket.

    True, there have been a few bodges such as the recruitment of security staff. I can’t help wondering why those Public Servants in the Palace of Westminster weren’t roped in to be security staff – it would have brought MP’s and Lords face to face with real people.

    Making London a “clean city” from an advertising perspective must have breached some anti-competition laws, and why haven’t the IOC been charged for the security in the way a football club would have been?

    The Games has lost its ethics and gained a gaggle of hangers on, dodgy characters and cronies funded by the gullible tax-payers.

  14. Ian Lloyd says:

    Sadly the ‘it’s all pointless bollocks’ line that too many people have taken for too long here has resulted in so many missed opportunities over the last 70 years, a sprawling underclass and a political class that are allowed to feed their self-interest.

    What 2012 shows in bucket loads is that given goals and resources, people in Britain can be world class. A healthy dose of cynicism has it’s place but to dismiss what has been achieved by everyone involved, from Gold Medallist to Volunteer, as ‘utter bollocks’ is itself utter bollocks.

  15. Dan says:

    The negative posters on this comment section actually validate and illuminate Jon’s point. If more people can translate their preoccupation with outrage at government and ‘real world’ issues into positive projects and energy, we could achieve so much.

    Do you really believe that the likes of Jess Ennis and her fellow atheletes haven’t been touched by some of these hardships that you write about? We are aware of the catalogue of serious problems in the UK and across the world – and they’re horrible and terrible. But, please, allow yourself and the rest of us the satisfaction of achievement and celebration for a moment!

    If you fervently believe you can do a better job than the people you criticise day in day out, then prove it and direct your life into a position where you can affect change. As Lineker would say, “Show us your medals” :)

  16. Kate says:

    Come on now,good people – cut Jon some slack.

    He is on a high from being in an Olympic host city.
    I too have known that buzz – euphoria almost. It brings a seeming clarity of thought and a (sadly temporary) upward reassessment of life and the world.

    Allow him his high.
    Grim reality will bite soon enough.

    1. Robert Taggart says:

      Sorry Katie, but, we do to him as he does to others.
      Result ? – a ‘high’ !
      Until Osteoporosis sets into him (in a few years ?!) with old age – this be our only means to ‘cut him down to size’ !

    2. Meg Howarth says:

      Disgraceful, Robert Taggart. Your gratuitous nastiness says nothing about Jon or his blog but oogles about yourself. Bravo, Kate, below – the time might yet come for an IGNORE button.

    3. Robert Taggart says:

      Jon, you appear to have a champion ! – MH !!

  17. Mick Dann says:

    Hear hear John, an excellent piece indeed.

    We certainly do have the potential to get ourselves out of this imposed period of gloom, we just need to persuade those with the money and the power that the system needs to change.

    I hope the afterglow of the Olympics will help stimulate a more positive outlook in this country.

    The first step is to recognise that inequality lies at the heart of the problems we are facing.

  18. Abdul Munim says:

    It tells us we are stupid and blind! There is a whole TV network dedicated to the Olympics and still the news feel they need to spend majority of their time talking about it! There is a genocide going on in Myanmar and no one cares. People are being raped, tortured and slaughtered!!! and no one knows and no one does anything.

  19. Graeme Duffin says:

    Great piece.
    Cynicism is not an attractive quality. I’m glad not to live in Phillip’s world.
    As a Scot, I was unconvinced as to the ultimate relevance and who should be paying, but am immensely proud and inspired by the Scots in team GB. Punching well above our weight for a nation of 5.2M.
    How do we inspire others and get out of the negative rut?
    Jon’s comments on the political and banking systems are accurate observation. We’re brought low by human greed, a BAD form of capitalism where growth and shareholder profits rule unfettered by our wider responsibilities nationally as well as globally. Until the bad money men rule no longer, it seems we are all relegated to following ultimately destructive agendas disguised as ‘growth’.
    I for one will wait watch and work in hope.

    1. Robert Taggart says:

      A Scottish vote FOR independence would give us Sassenachs a ‘high’ !
      GD – will you do us a favour ? – X – !

    2. Kate says:

      “but am immensely proud and inspired by the Scots in team GB. Punching well above our weight for a nation of 5.2M.”

      Oh me too, Graeme!
      I am a Scot living in Yorkshire, which is also punching well above its weight.
      It’s so good to see the Scots have such success in sports….takes a bit of getting used to,eh?
      Imagine if Salmond gets his way – TeamScotland, anyone?!? :)

  20. Ian says:

    As we are doing so well in the Olympics, I see little need to seek more funding, especially when there are many still living in poverty. For every winner we create we create many more losers. I do wish the games could be more about individuals, and less about nations. Even with more wealth, states with a small population could never get more medals than one withe a large population. Having said all that, I have enjoyed learning lots of new technical terms and about tactics and techniques.

  21. Diana Soltmann says:

    Totally agree with your blog. Psychologists, scientists all agree that the so called feel good factor spurs on creativity, productivity etc. The Brits are good at self deprecation and misery. When the bid was everyone had a field day with predictions of the games being over budget, late, disorganised and a public relations disaster for London and Great Britain. What a triumph it has been! I have spoken to people in Germany, France and Spain just in case I was being brain washed by British media and they all said the same thing ‘London Olympics are amazing, especially the crowds, the energy and sportsmanship is extraordinary’ . Logoc was clever about using London landmarks to showcase London. People watching from overseas loved the backdrop of Greenwich, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace etc. The transport system has worked, crowd control magnificent and team GB stupendous. How wonderful it has been to wake up to joy, exuberance, success and triumphs. If we can do this, we can do anything..even beat this recession. Needless to say the driven and determined will always have to carry the misery guts…c’est la vie!

  22. Philip says:

    What the Olympics tells us about ourselves is that we are human & different. Many people – even some sceptics – will enjoy the spectacle & winning medals, but most will forget all about it in a few weeks. Some will be inspired to take up a sport – and some will continue it, possibly even gaining medals themselves in time. Politicians will blather & try to score as many points for themselves as possible. Sceptics & misanthropes will remain unmoved. We are prisoners of our beliefs, our characters and our times. This is an age of short-termism which values presentation over real achievement or integrity. It is also an age where the possibilities of electronic communications for dialogue and learning seem to be overwhelmed – perhaps because of the lack of face to face contact – by dogmatism, prejudice and apathy.
    Yes – I have enjoyed the Olympics, as I like watching sport. I’ve enjoyed the victories of “Team GB”, especially those where people have had to show immense character to achieve what they’ve done. As a runner, I sympathise with those who don’t achieve their best or get injured. But I’m concerned also that it’s taken over too much of media output & about its dubious foundation

  23. noel says:

    Teh economy won’t affect mr Snow’s salary;

    How much did he pay for his olmpic tickets during his hols, or did he go to America

  24. Julian says:

    What do the Olympics tell us about ourselves? Well, it seems they tell us that Mr Snow doesn’t know much about either the Olympics or us! All this euphoria about design and construction. Perhaps he doesn’t know about the storage cell with over 7000 tonnes of radioactively contaminated soil, including 100 tonnes of non-exempt material, built without planning permission? Or the largest new park in Europe for 150 years which is nothing of the kind, or the ‘legacy’ from the Athletes’ Village which was going to be built anyway and more of it to a better design until the Olympics came along. Maybe he believes the tale that the DLR from Stratford International station to Canning Town is an Olympic project except it’s a project going back to the late 1990s. A few gold medals and he forgets the dangerous precedents set by the wholesale disregard for planning rules on open land as at Leyton Marsh, Greenwich Park and Wanstead Flats and the ridiculous security operation including the installation of an electric fence around the Park. What does all this tell us about ourselves? And what of Mr Snow’s reaction to criticism? The usual dismissal of grumpy old men!

    All that glitters is not gold!

  25. Mudplugger says:

    What do the Olympics tell us about ourselves ?

    We just needed to add the Olympics to the all-embracing Welfare State, and now we’ve got the pair. ‘Bread & Circuses’.

    The Romans knew a bit about that – keeps the populace under control, stops them thinking about important stuff, so the hierarchy can get on with their own disreputable plans undisturbed.

  26. Poppy says:

    Please can we just enjoy the moment of glory? Totally agree with this blog. So refreshing to see euphoria, joy, smiles and huge enjoyment on people faces. GB has done it. It is a fantastic Olympics and it has really showcased this country. I really hope that some of the energy and confidence it has generated will spill over into rebuilding the economy.

  27. Kate says:

    I am not the only one who is saddened and annoyed to see a nasty element appearing on this blog and others within the site.

    The CH4 News team are to my mind the best in the business – eschewing the blandness and vapidity of other news channels.

    We come here to exchange views in a civilised manner. There is no need to launch into personalised derogatory comment. It makes you look stupid and you lose credibility till an IGNORE button becomes a must have.

    Attack the opinion,not its owner.

    1. Philip says:

      Well said.
      It seems that enjoying something like this is beyond too many people whose negative view of the world appears to reject anything other people may be enjoying – but always seeks to find the down side. The world is a complex place & if we can’t enjoy some things while recognising the bad, our lives will be sour and frustrated. It is only when we see things that lift us up that light may be cast on a way forward. In any case, enthusiasm from such events can give us the energy & strength to push for the changes we need at a day-to-day level.
      I’m a Midlander who lives in London. I’m pleased that the OG has gone so well & that Brits have done well, as well as seeing remarkbale performances by athletes from other countries. Various peoplecommenting on here have made statements about London which are at best partly true & reveal more about their own prejudices than about what London is like for ordinary people living here (& I have absolutely no connection with the finance sector). Various allegations have also been made about “three weeks drugs fest in Hackney”. Apart from the fact that the OG aren’t in Hackney, I’d like to see some evidence for that statement.
      Keep at it, Jon

    2. Steve Willis says:

      Yes – the Channel 4 News team are head and shoulders above any other.

      Even an Olympics Cycnic like me just loved the appearance of Bradley Wiggins side-burns on the team during one report. A magic moment of surreal humour which I’ll remember and enjoy for ever.

  28. Republican Dave says:

    No limit to the export in war either.

    The British empire is not yet at bay, Jon. Nothing ‘great’ about Britian.

    Despite myself I have enjoyed watching the *athletics* triumph, but the nationalistic embodiment of the games is truly disgusting. How dare the British ARMY play a role in sport- take priviledge among nations it has ruined.

    Also, to be a ‘great’ ‘british’ sportsperson you must sing a national anthem to God & Queen or be tarred and feathered as a traitor.


    1. Poppy says:

      Republican Dave,
      Having been at the Munich Olympics I saw what happened when the Germans decided that they would not have the Army present for fear of the world’s wrath re the war. Fine athletes were murdered for propaganda purposes. You don’t actually have to be British to sing an anthem. As you may have noticed all the other countries have one! And yes, many of them refer to a God. People like belonging whether to a family, nation, republican party. Quite unusual to be a hermit in human society. You sound very angry and it must be very frustrating to have so much anger. Especially when others seem to be happy?

  29. Philidor says:

    Jon hope you won’t mind me using this blog to comment on your talk on Iran . Certain facts of history should be made known.
    In 1953 Iran nationalised the oil industry run by ( and largely for ) BP, after this the US/UK overthrew the democratic government, hundreds were killed in street violence stirred up by US /UK.The rule of the Shah, corrupt and cruel ,was imposed by US/UK. The Shah’s secret police , the SAVAK tortured Iranian citizens with help from the CIA. After the Shah was overthrown the US waged undeclared war on Iran.They used their military technology to give Iraq the positions of Iranian soldiers who were then showered with poison gas. After 9/11 Iran was helping the US but was branded part of an axis of evil by Bush.( That he got away with this indicates something very wrong with the western media ). Now we are making the people of Iran suffer with severe sanctions and threatening them with war though there is a consensus,which includes Leon Panetta ,that they are not developing nuclear weapons. We turn a blind eye to Israeli nuclear weapons though the rules say Israel should at least be subject to a ban on arms sales (or donations). Pl notifyifdifferent forum in use

  30. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    I too have waves of optimistic elation when dreams seem to come true allbut for a short time, but the hope stays. It is in a sense a parareligious longing which has been temporarily assuaged by a union of mankind competing for the same thing , against each other but towards the same goal, for improvement of self.

    My emotions are similarly roused when the music makers come together or I feel the sheer bliss of one mans internal take on beauty and emotion.

    Is it really just about sport, is it really just about the cultural barriers which are broken apart or is it a sense of feeling that we have tapped into something far greater than ourselves or is it all bollocks.. ? You may be right Philip.

  31. Kate says:

    “Also, to be a ‘great’ ‘british’ sportsperson you must sing a national anthem to God & Queen or be tarred and feathered as a traitor.”

    Oh yes! Isn’t it pathetic? Andy Murray,as an example, only gained acceptability – not because he secured a gold medal for GB but was seen singing the national anthem. Other gold medal winners who failed to conform were subjected to the full fury of disgusted monarchists.

  32. Tatiana says:

    Euphoric? Definitely. Idealistic? Sure. Maybe I am too idealistic as well, but I have been caught up in the great spirit of Olympics and Jon, I find this blog inspirational and wonderfully emotional, just like the Games themselves. And, Republican Dave, there are a lot of “great” about Britain, Jon Snow for one. :-). And I think you are mistaking nationalistic for patriotic.

    Jon – thank you. Great writing.

  33. Tanya Spooner says:

    I must join Tatiana in the spirit of her commnts.
    I am struggling with a major health shock, but the exuberance all around is helpful. there is nothing like a lot of people feeling good to make everything feel better!

  34. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Didn’t read all the comments until today; much more interested in reading Jons’blog, but we are aren’t we. Jon is famous; we are not ( with the exception of a few higher ups).The comments are all about an unhealthy challenge ,a testosterone surge to become the best , if not in atheletic endeavour then in verbal sophistry.

    When I see people turning their noses up at food, I have a sense of disgust which is second to none. Starvation of our fellow men is slow murder. When a spirit of cooperation with those countries who have experienced hunger has been trampled on, a similar sort of queeziness inhabits the air.

    Sure! there are the money makers , the big iron pyrite lustful fiddlers who take the piss. On the other hand there are those charming youths who have given their all to be the best and represent their countries. It is to the innocence of striving for perfection we should yield to. Of course I am a bit cheesy , a bit saccharine and yet I can cope with me far better than the cruel , misreable cynics. Rock on Jon.

  35. ben says:

    Jon, I just read a blog of an Israeli that she enjoys watching the Olympics, because she can forget the every day life of war and suicide bomb attacks.
    There is a saying in German: what I give, I get it back.
    These games were exceptional good and the world – unbelievable the Austrian/Germans, too – enjoyed them. I think, these games told the world what great country this is.
    Ergo, we will get back good things.

  36. the-Richard-of-Nottingham says:

    aaaahh Jonny boy you are a hopeless romantic(10/10), but not much of a philosopher(1/10).

    You see the Games were/are just that. A festival of sport and nothing more. The only people it will effect in the medium/long term are the athletes/coaches themselves. In 3 months time you lot in the Great British media circus will have forgotten all about it and moved on to covering “events” (rather than investigating useful stuff). And that’s as it should be.

    The Olympics are a 4 yearly party of sport to enjoy/avoid. And that’s it. Ask Athenians, Atlantans, Barcelonans… what difference it made to them, or what the “legacy” was from their experience and you might get a shrug and a funny look.

    So, what do the 2012 games tell us about ourselves ?
    That we can put on a great sports festival, and support/cover it well, giving rise to the finest athletics you’ll see in a lifetime. And then spoil it a bit with a monumental cheese-fest whereby our creative luvvies disappear up their own backsides to give us an ending of rather bland ordinariness.

  37. Loobyloo says:

    I loved the games, especially the Jamaicans and Mo Farah, but was less enthusiastic about the closing ceremony. It was trite and cliched.

  38. Julian says:

    It is interesting how people want to label those who disagree with Mr Snow as cynics or grumpy. The fact is lots of us simply disagree, we are not inspired. I have lived with the Olympics since 2003 when we were told our homes would be demolished to make way for the Games. So I naturally took quite a strong interest in the claims made for the Olympics and found they were consistently false, some of which I list above. As far as I am aware Channel Four News has never done a proper analysis of the Olympics, my tv broke down last year and I didn’t replace it so I can’t say much about recent coverage. But a Channel Four News presenter came and spoke to me some time ago but as far as I am aware nothing was ever produced. I can’t agree that Channel Four News is so wonderful, in my opinion (which is all I have to go on) it has ceased to be the programme it used to be. But now those of us who are not impressed are somehow supposed to just get over it and agree with the rest. In March YouGov found only 20% thought they would derive any benefits from the Olympics. Now we will wait to see what reality brings rather than medal winning euphoria. That is not grumpy or cynical just experience.

  39. Robert says:

    “Can we turn our vast skills to making things beyond the Olympic Games that the world needs and that we have the innate national personality to conceive and deliver?” – In answer to the question you raise Jon, there is one simple answer – investment!!

    I think the point that many people have overlooked which has been the key to the success of the games is that given the right investment in facilities, training and most importantly people, we (the British) can be world class performers and not just in sport.

    The main problem blighting the UK economy for decades has been lack of investment and the Olympic games has demonstrated perfectly what we can do when the investment in there. Unfortunately we’ve become a cheap-Jack economy – we spend disproportionately on status objects like houses and cars (because of our status-ridden society) and then try to do everything else on the cheap because we have minimum income left. If only we could learn from these games and invest in our future for everybody rather than being preoccupied with crass, narrow-minded demonstrations of our individual status and self-importance, then the UK would become the fantastic place that the games alluded to.

    1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      surely you are not suggesting the UK alone is guilty of ivesting in their own private status symbols..? what about all other western countries!

  40. Robert says:

    Yep afraid so, except I wouldn’t call it investing, in the case of property it is more like speculation. Comparatively few other countries have had the huge house price bubbles experienced by the UK. Just think how much better off we would all be if we spent less ‘investing’ in property – it would give us more actual cash to spend on other things without the requirement of needing debt to finance current spending – that’s why we’re one of the most indebted countries in the west.

    1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      I think we are investing enough in our own country with taxes. I for one am not happy in the effort I have made over a life time of paying others debts off for other twisters, having my investment in the state ruined with the loss of pension, decent salary and much more. We have a problem in the UK which does not recognise hard work and to deny anyone the respect they deserve of laying out cash to provide for themselves is short sighted.
      Of Course we could all live off the state and die with out leaving our children an inheritance and spend everything on non durables , but that is not building, it is waste.

  41. Robert Macnab says:

    Um, I don’t think I’m advocating anyone living off the state, far from it, I’ve been self employed nearly all my life (mid 50s now), but I’ve been far more successful by investing in myself and my own businesses (started with my own money) than by investing in residential property. I think the mistake many salaried people have and will continue to make is a hope that property investment will make them a greater return than salaried employment. I take your point about hard work not being recognised, except that if you are self employed you are at least in charge of your own destiny. I have a big issue about university-educated people not choosing self employment as a career and it’s usually because they want the kudos and status of a ‘big job’ but that’s an issue for a whole separate blog – Jon?

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