Olympic flame leaves me cold

SO London's Olympic dream lives on - or is that the nightmare?I can think of nothing good in the prospect of the 2012 Olympics being held in Britain.

SO London's Olympic dream lives on - or is that the nightmare?

I can think of nothing good in the prospect of the 2012 Olympics being held in Britain.

I heard a telling comment the other day from a Greek woman considering this summer's Games in Athens.

Brushing off fears that not all the venues would be ready in time, she

added: "It will be a great Games - for the rest of the world. For Greeks it will be a disaster."


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The ancient city of Athens, traditionally one of the world's great traffic jams, is now also one of the great building sites.

It's rather like the Games themselves – something wonderful and historic buried beneath too much concrete, commerce and sheer modern bustle.

There is something splendid about the Olympic ideal. Unfortunately, the Games themselves left the ideal behind long ago.

The whole thing is too big, too bloated, frankly too dull to be worth the time, attention and colossal sums of money it gobbles up.

The real competitors are no longer amateur runners, jumpers and throwers. They are fat middle-aged and elderly men trading international TV rights among the wine and vol-au-vents.

Football has the World Cup - it doesn't need the Olympics.

Tennis has its Grand Slam circuit - it doesn't need the Olympics.

If the Olympics is the natural arena of any sport, it is track and field - yet even the athletes now have a major world championships of their own. They don't really need the Olympics any more.

The same goes, really, for any sport worth its salt.

I suppose the Games really come into their own for the fringe events.

Would the nation have been gripped, as we were at the last Winter Games, by any other contest on the curling rink?

On the other hand, what on earth is the point of rowing, or weightlifting, or synchronized face-pulling, as a spectator sport?

I have nothing against minority sports – in fact I think there's something rather fine about them. (Probably the only Olympic sport that has nothing fine about it whatever is the so-called "noble science" of boxing, which is neither noble nor a science.)

But if the world at large really wants to support archery, fencing, softball and taekwondo, maybe we should do it directly.

I'm sure those games' governing bodies would love to have the use of even a small portion of the Games' budget.

Putting some poor city through the hell of the Olympics every four years – not to mention all the protracted nonsense of choosing the victim city years in advance – is not the way to do it.

Frankly, it's not the way to do anything, unless the aim is to set an attractive challenge to those whose chosen sport is international terrorism.

Remember Munich? Remember Atlanta? Fear for Athens?

Of course, London's always a potential terror target. We don't need the Olympics to focus the world's attention on the city – like New York, it always has it. You get used to it.

But if I was a Londoner, I would positively dread the disruption the Olympics would bring. The city is busy enough, dirty enough and overcrowded enough already.

And I wouldn't be amused at the thought of having to pay for it through increased council tax.

The rest of us could watch a New York, Paris, Moscow or Madrid Games just as easily on our tellies - if we could be bothered.