James Corrigan: Olympic fever? Like many real sports fans I'm immune to the hype and bluster
The Way I See It: To us the Olympics is about athletics, and only about athletics, maybe with a bit of swimming and boxing thrown in
One has to admire the chutzpah of Roger Lewis and his merry mob at the Welsh Rugby Union. Today they will risk upstaging Lord Coe's one-year-to-go spectacular and in terms of stealing someone else's thunder this would equate to drowning out Metallica with a triangle.
Yet they will try and those who have encountered Mr Lewis will hardly be surprised. They will recognise that here is a sports administrator who has sought to avoid the spotlight in the same manner Welsh rugby fans have always been shy about singing in public. Our Roger was born to be a superstar. Instead he's the chief executive of the WRU. Bless.
So all credit to him for being "available for interview" at the Millennium Stadium today. The journalists lucky enough to secure some precious time with Roger will doubtless hear breathless pronouncements on how excited the Welsh capital is to be kicking off the global extravaganza. And to think just 100 yards away on the High Street there will be Cardiffians going about their business oblivious to the fact that there are just 365 days to go before they can watch, say, Sweden versus Colombia – in the preliminary round of the women's football tournament.
It's a good job most of those locals will be in the dark, because if they realised what was coming their way there might be an outbreak of mass panic as they storm the stadium's ticket office.
But then, maybe they won't be overly concerned about attending a match which is regarded as so prestigious it is being staged two days before the opening ceremony. By the time Daley Thompson, or whoever is chosen to light the flame, scorches a few doves' backsides there will already be a few teams resigned to a medalless Games. The Olympic experience will never seem such a dream.
Yet only the very foolish will dare point this out, particularly in this of all weeks. Stating anything at all negative about London 2012 is about to become the new blasphemy. May Coe strike them down; and the good Lord probably will when he triggers the countdown at a grand fanfare in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday. The critics will be cast as heretics, killjoys who refuse to see the big picture. Looking down, Admiral Nelson would be proud of the little chap's gusto.
Except there will be many of us welcoming those figures on the huge clock with a quiet "oh, blimey; oh, blimey", rather than a raucous "here were go, here we go". The ticketing shambles gave only the briefest indication of the extent of the pessimism out there. And when the camera scans around at the opening ceremony to reveal the usual array of politicians and luvvies and professional golfers, the cynicism will be revealed in all its scornful glory. The subset will thus rise and the anti-Olympians will have their voice.
Expect money to play a substantial role in the outcry, expect the boast that the Games is "coming under budget" to be compared to an Imelda Marcos shopping trip to Stead & Simpson "coming under budget". Other areas of angst will be the sporting legacy, the disruption to London life and the cost of Jacques Rogge's suite at the Dorchester. Then, in no particular order, will follow the rest of Britain feeling alienated (Mr Lewis apart), the burden to the taxpayer, security fears and the police reaction to any protests, almost certainly staged by "anarchist organisations" (to use an oxymoron).
But then the party will get into full swing and the naysayers will appear especially bitter and miserable and misguided by the time the closing ceremony salutes a fortnight of joyous sporting action. And in this euphoric afterglow the whole shebang will be hailed a stupendous success. Who cares if the traffic was chaos and the weather was biblical and if Boris dropped a few clangers? London 2012 was the highpoint for the generation!
Was it really? Through all this there will be a sizeable group among us who will have felt nonplussed by the Olympics strictly on sporting terms. Of course, like everyone, we're struck by the scale of the hypocrisy, but we're not anti-Games. Just indifferent to the Games. We pay no interest to rowing, cycling, shooting, canoeing or sailing for 207 weeks in a four-year cycle so why should we suddenly become fanatical? Isn't that a trifle false?
We wonder why the tennis players look so bored and why the football tournament has all the significance of the Community Shield. We yearn for the football and rugby seasons to start again and in the meantime occupy ourselves with cricket and golf and those summer sports we are obsessed by year in, year out. Don't berate us as we are merely being true to our passion and find it slightly repulsive to be inspired by all this "unifying power of sport" guff.
To us the Olympics is about athletics, and only about athletics, maybe with a bit of swimming and boxing thrown in. No doubt the sight of Usain Bolt will jolt us from our stupor – but only temporarily. We did not apply for tickets, live outside the metropolis, so as far as we are concerned the Games might have been held on the moon as in east London. Olympic fever isn't due to visit our town. Call us killjoys, although in fact we won't be killing anybody's joy; just shrugging in silence while the Mexican wave drives us barmy.
It is possible to love sport and not love the Olympics, you know. Cardiff 2012 may well prove so. Just don't tell Lord Coe. Or Roger.
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