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Why are the biggest sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics being walked over?

Today has finally arrived when London gets a chance to cement it’s place in history and welcome the world to the 2012 Olympics.

I must warn you, this is a very negative post. I try to find light at the end of the tunnel at the end of the post but I may well need your cheering up in the comments if you can spare me a few moments!

A, no doubt, stunning opening ceremony directed by Danny Boyle will open the next two weeks of pain and glory for athletes from all over the globe. It should be an amazing and exciting experience but walking around London and listening to people may leave you feeling a little torn about the whole thing.

I arrived home just over a week ago. I have not been here for a year and it’s clear that the government has been busy glossing everything over and organising this colossal event.

In parts the city look amazing, like it’s been ShamWowed by a grinning white toothed salesman, it’s full of slow moving zombie-like tourists from all over the world and many 2012 logo brandished youth (and retirees) are scattered around for once gainfully employed rather than littering the streets scratching their behinds.

So why are Londoners unhappy?

There is no hiding it or twisting of figures. Hosting any large scale sporting event is expensive. The bid was won by London on the belief that it may cost a measly 5billion pounds. That just seems like a joke now that most reports are accepting the cost of the games will actually be somewhere around 11billion pounds. I think if you try to type that number into a regular calculator it screams EEEEEEEE’s at you!

However surely we should fear not with large scale sponsors like McDonalds, Coke, Visa and Adidas to foot the bills. The problem is these large scale sponsors, although kind enough to give away their money, seem to be being waited on hand and foot.

Recent news reports have alleged that people won’t be allowed into the Olympic areas with competitors products. Seb Coe even went as far to say that a person may not be allowed in wearing a Pepsi T-shirt (1), surely impossible to enforce! On a more realistic issue you may not be able to bring in cans of Pepsi or any Pepsi owned product or anything from non-sponsors. All food may have to be sponsor brand or no-brand (1). Inside the Olympics village it’s being said only McDonalds fries will be able to be served and obviously Coke beverages. It may also be the case that vendors and business around the Olympic areas will be forced to comply with policies to bend over backwards for these sponsors.

Then there are the tax breaks. All revenue earned by sponsors and foreign Olympics workers such as athletes and trainers is tax-free. McDonalds have publicly said they will pay tax on their earnings in good faith but they could u-turn or only partially pay if they like. Coca Cola look likely to follow suit but Visa hasn’t said a word as yet. It also means all the prize money, individual athlete sponsor deals etc etc will be earned on British soil and not a penny of tax will legally have to be collected (2).

Then there are the woes of stuffing 100s of 1000s more people into a city that is already choc-a-block! The organisers are of course worried about this and there is a government campaign that just about amounts to telling Londoners to piss off when the Olympics are in session! The campaign centered around the idea of “getting ahead of the games” (3) and slanted to supposedly help us out is warning people to stay off trains, roads and anywhere during the hours of the games. I think it just about says to Londoners:

“Hey guys, we are hosting the biggest sporting event in the world in your backyard but we want you to stay inside because, frankly, there isn’t enough room for you peasants. Why not take three weeks unpaid off work and rot away in your bedroom watching us pat ourselves on the back live on the BBC”

On the transport side, people are not happy with the way things work as they are. I like London transport but it’s been many years since I had to use it daily and you hear of lengthy delays and poor excuses such as “leaves on the line”. The trains and tubes will no-doubt suffer and some bus routes already running at capacity will just not function properly. Then there are the Olympic lanes. Entire lanes of major roads have been cut off to regular traffic (already in effect pre-games) and will only allow Olympic related traffic to pass down them. In many 2 lane areas this means traffic has already doubled up and rush hour is lasting more than twice as long. There are even some reports that a badly planned area near Hyde Park leave motorists with a choice between only a bus lane or an Olympic lane, both illegal places to drive! I have not seen this myself so it may be a myth but it adds to the disdain felt by people.

Things people should be happy about, and why they are not!

So there is more things that are making people upset even though on the face they should be good.

The Olympics will kickstart the country again – It took Montreal 30 years to pay off it’s Olympic debts and in recent years both Spain and Greece have not been able to keep the Olympic spirit alive long enough to save them from the hell they are now in. The Olympics doesn’t save an already ravished economy and more often than not leaves a country in serious debt.

The transportation systems will be left wildly improved – Granted there have been some improvements. The Docklands Light Railway now runs south east of the river, many Tube stations have been upgraded and some lines extended, as well as new buses and improved road structures (debatable). The problem is, a city the size of London with a transport system as profitable as it is shouldn’t need a two-week event for these improvements to be facilitated.

It’s a chance for London to celebrate having the greatest event in the world on it’s turf – There will be some great moments and the reserved British pride may well look more like American pride if we happen to chance on a medal. Flag waving aside most Londoners can’t access the games. Money is tight and it was an actual lottery to try and pick up a ticket. Opening ceremony tickets were rumored to be close to 1000pounds alone. This means that all many Lononers will get to see will be lots of sponsorship logos and traffic woes, not a celebratory time at all!

Local business will flourish – Yes, for two to four weeks only. Then what? Everything will go back to normal. Those two week earnings may be just what some business needs to stay afloat but unless the economy improves fast it may be just prolonging the pain and agony and anyway big business has seriously muscled in to take the lion’s share.

It has created many jobs – Like the games themselves much of these jobs are temporary. A brief building boom and now jobs during the games themselves. You would think in these troubled times that someone would be in complete devoted thankfulness to the Olympics for two weeks work. Well sadly it may not benefit them at all! Here is a transliteration from conversing with a benefits officer that I know.

“The security company G4 has employed a lot of people for the two weeks of the games. They will then effectively lay them off for two weeks and the re-employ them for the Paralympics for two weeks. Four weeks work should be good but many of these people are dependent on job seekers allowance and benefit as they have been unemployed in this terrible economy. However their benefits will stop and they will need to reapply in a process that can take weeks. Also a benefits run on period for a month supposed to help people getting back into work only comes into effect for people who get employment more than four weeks in length, this split four weeks does not count and their benefits will just be cut outright.”

Basically a two-four week Olympics job could cost you more than you earn from it, if you rely on benefits! Not good for people just trying to survive!

There has been a ton of new infrastructure and regeneration of run down areas – There will be some possibly good lasting effects of the building works especially in East London. However some areas have been gentrified pushing essentially “the poor” out of the area to new pastures. In other parts of London much of the work is just akin to a lick of paint. Just scrubbing over the dirt of an area and doing nothing to help people makes them resentful, I am seeing this in Woolwich, my home town. Also many of the structures are temporary effectively leaving blank space in their wake. Some structure are slated for continued use but how much use to the general public they will be is waiting to be seen.

And now finally, my point: WE ARE THE MAIN SPONSORS

The games are costing a massive 11billion pounds by conservative estimates. Of course the organisers are bending over backwards for the kind sponsors of this wonderful event. The problem is they are ignoring the main sponsor of the games, the British taxpayers!

Of that 11billion pounds it seems only approx 2billion pounds is coming from the private sector. That means that taxpayers are spending 9.3billion pounds directly and potentially more indirectly (4).

That may be the genuine root of all the unhappiness. No doubt Coke representatives have been showered with free tickets, where are ours? They have been given pre-games stadium tours, where are ours? They get to use the Olympic lanes and their investments will most likely earn them far more than they have spent.

The British taxpayer looks to be left with debt, a games they couldn’t attend and picking up the pieces of two weeks of hell at work. Some people have been displaced and made to move out of the areas their family spent their wholes lives in and there is no guarantee any effect of the games will continue past a few months.

People just wanted to be consulted more and involved. This could have been “the grassroots Olympics”, not “the pompous elites brushing the annoying people aside Olympics” event it seems to be becoming.

Shouldn’t an event treat it’s main sponsor with more respect?

A glance towards the light…

Us Brits love a good moan. It’s in our culture and we are not always as miserable as we outwardly seem (in opposition to American’s who are often far more miserable than they seem!).

Secretly each and every one of us who were born, raised or live in London have a little excitement about the whole thing and it would be a lie to deny there is a buzz about the city.

I love seeing all the tourists and have been chatting with some in various coffee shops and helping them with directions.

I have been walking most places to avoid traffic and although I normally do that it seems many others are too, this is ultimately a good thing and I hope the walking continues after the games.

The lasting effects may be far wider than I am anticipating and maybe this will be the resurgence of GREAT Britain as the government media keeps telling us. Maybe we won’t end up in debt for as long as other countries!

Maybe we are all just spending to much time looking at the dark and are ignoring the light?

I would love and sincerely appreciate all your comments and thoughts.

Sources:

(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/20/coe-olympics-sponsorship-row

(2) http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/07/17/the-great-olympic-tax-swindle/

(3) http://www.getaheadofthegames.com/

(4) http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/datablog/2012/jul/26/london-2012-olympics-money

Image: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=203322709797346&set=a.176733439122940.37036.176718185791132&type=1&theater

 

27 thoughts on “Why are the biggest sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics being walked over?”

  1. Thanks for this perspective Forest. I’ll keep it in mind while I watch the opening cerimonies at 4pm today.
    I love the Olympic Spirit, I hate that it cost so much to show case it, when it doesn’t really have to.

  2. It is the same way here in the states with professional sports tickets. They cost so much the average fan cannot afford them. Places like Disney World are the same way. They are advertised as a family destination and few families I know of can afford E-tickets.

  3. Hi Forest! I tend to agree with what you’re saying. We saw the same thing here in Atlanta back in 1996. Commuting patterns were rerouted, and work was shifted out of town, but for the most part it wasn’t bad for the residents.

    As far as cost, it’s a losing proposition, but it’s not about money anyway. It’s about prestige. The politicians know this and upsell the long term economic benefits, but there probably won’t be many. The Olympics are like a giant, short-lived light bulb that shines brightly for a short time, then burns out forever.

    Most cities and countries want to host them purely for the notariety. London’s greatest Olympic glory has been the build up to the games; once they’re over, everyone will shift attention to Rio and Brazil, and they’ll hardly remember London even hosted them at all.

    The Olympics are like a shot of national steroids, and countries pay a huge price for them. And it really doesn’t matter how much they pay because it’s all
    “paid for” with debt. And since they’re all up to their eyeballs in debt anyway who’s going to notice. After all, what’s a few billion more in debt on top of a pile of trillions?

    It’s another one of those puzzles that’s all part of “man’s happy little way”.
    Kevin@OutOfYourRut recently posted..Letting Go of Our PossessionsMy Profile

  4. The UK blogs I follow have roundly bashed Americans, Coke, McDonalds, and athletes that are interested in sex and partying. These bloggers seem to think Americans are the fault of all UK problems. They do not support athletes or have a bit of joy about the celebrations that I thoroughly enjoy on TV.

    I enjoyed the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, going to the soccer game held in Birmingham, at a great cost to myself.

    Problems with the Olympics should not be addressed loudly the weeks the Olympics occur. It is a problem to be solved before the next events.

    The Brit bloggers give no credit to young people who have woked for their place and give it their best shot while at the Olympics. They even say they are going to boycott the Olympics and all the towns that have any part. It seems like a nasty public attitude to exhibit, especially when their readers are global. Why didn’t the Brits just ban American companies, including McDonalds and Coke from being sponsors. The Golden Rule: the people with the gold make the rules.

    Change the rules. No one gave me a ticket or special pass to the Olympics and I never expected it. Why would Brits expect that?
    Practical Parsimony recently posted..My $5000.00 PrescriptionMy Profile

    1. I think you have the wrong end of the stick here unless you are not addressing me?

      I didn’t bash anything to do with American companies or american athletes and where did I say anything about sex or partying? Or did you just mean on the other blogs?

      I don’t think sponsors on basis o nationality should ever be banned, maybe it would be nice to have some more healthy sponsors but that’s not the point of this post.

      WE the UK Tax payers have paid 9.3billion pounds of our own money for the Olympics and have had no say to it’s organisation which will interput our lives. Is that fair? Shouldn’t we have at least been consulted?

      The problem with this event is it’s organisation not what it stands for or the contenders.

      I don’t think people should ever stop complaining when they feel an injustice is being made. Voices are meant to be heard and I welcome that even if I disagree.

      I respect the athletes very much and understand that they trained very hard often for nothing much in return but a chance. Many are poor and will go home poor, some will see glory short lived and some will make a career. The olympics isn’t wrong, the organisation of this years is.
      Forest recently posted..Why are the biggest sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics being walked over?My Profile

      1. I said UK blogs and do not consider your blog a UK blog. You are just everywhere.

        Forest, you know better. How long would it take to get a concensus from the UK public? Or, American public? Or, from any country. We all have representatives who make those decisions and all want to outdo the last, to make a memorable opening. If it is such a wrong that people grumble, maybe people should get it into the hands of politicians and have a national vote. We both know that is not going to happen. It would be impossible to make room in any country a venue to handle so many competitors and their following. I don’t have a good answer. Yes, organization should be fixed.

        I can give you the blogs where the blogger and commenters said awful things about the athletes. You are not the person who was blasting Coke and McD.
        Practical Parsimony recently posted..Groceries in the GrassMy Profile

        1. My biggest beef is still the fact that we, the public, are the majority funders and are still not getting treated as we should. The rows and rows of empty seats attests to that! They are all seats given to sponsors and there are a LOT of them, just a small part of how pampered these people who funded just a small portion of the game are getting!

          The decision to bid for the Olympics should have gone to public vote and I think the answer would have been yes but then people would have been or at least felt much more involved from the beginning. Using the power of the internet (I know it doesn’t reach everyone) the games could have become much more grassroots organised and not just for the old boys club the way these things always seem to end up. We pay for it, they profit from it, go figure!!!!

          That being said, I have been enjoying the events and have been watching, after all I paid for it!
          Forest recently posted..The cheap and environmentally friendly way to shave: How you can save 95% on shaving!My Profile

  5. Wow great write up Forest. So unfortunate that the Olympics cost so much money! And I hate the fact that the people who live in the hosting country can’t even really enjoy it. They just get the backhand and have to deal with all the negative stuff. I’d have a hard time showing my pride for my city too. Hopefully there’s more good that comes of it than bad. Otherwise, we need to reevaluate the logistics of the event so that no other country falls victim to the huge burden the Olympics may cause. I’ll be tuning in when I can, in hopes that somehow my viewership and support for my country helps, even in the smallest way possible.
    Briana @ How’s Married Life recently posted..Comment on Is a Job Worth Your Happiness? by Briana MyricksMy Profile

  6. Great post Forest. I am not from London but I visit often and feel very homesick at the moment to see everything going on! That, I suppose, is the sense of pride in everything. But although I don’t really read much news, I’ve seen the things you’re saying all over my Facebook feed from friends at home, and couldn’t quite believe the situation with the sponsors and the ban of rival products. I also heard about the traffic/ transport changes in London and it’s really not great considering most people need to use it to get to work! Thanks for posting about this.
    Ruth P recently posted..3 Reasons Why Thailand Is Perfect For Digital NomadsMy Profile

  7. Great post! Sounds very much like Berlin when they hosted the Olympics. Hitler using politics and propaganda to present a false sense of security to eyes of the world, and not showing what was really happening (in Germany) nor showing what most people thought. (pre WWII) I fear so much that Capitolism is going too extreme, too greedy for too few ‘sponcors’. Common people becomming puppets. Its becomming an Industrial Dictatorship. Its creeping into nations “Like a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing”(mt 7:15)

    PS: you should send your post to major newspapers. However, due to the political nature, they may not be allowed to print it accurately.

    1. Hey Sandy, I think we have to be careful to compare to Berlin as I don’t think repression is the goal of the politicians involved like it was back in Germany. However there has been a lot of back patting and being given 9.3 billion to spend you’d think they would have been more careful with the money considering it wasn’t theirs…. Of course this isn’t the case!
      Forest recently posted..Why are the biggest sponsors of the London 2012 Olympics being walked over?My Profile

    1. The empty seat is a related to my grievances. Many of them were allocated to sponsors who have not bothered to turn up! How many free seats does a sponsor need and surely as the main funders the public should have been first served and then spares given out to sponsors. So often these seats are front-row too whilst the peasants who paid through the teeth have to sit way up in the stands.
      Forest recently posted..The cheap and environmentally friendly way to shave: How you can save 95% on shaving!My Profile

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