The Last Word: The lie at the heart of the Olympics

Games will not boost participation, tackle obesity and inspire our children. They will make money

A garrulous man, with the hide of a hippopotamus and the dead eyes of a halibut, leaned back on his chair and effortlessly exposed the lie which underpins the London Olympics.

"You all know me as someone who speaks his mind" he began. "Everyone around this table knows that not one single kid will come through our doors and take up sport because of the Games."

His audience, the administrators, lobbyists, politicians and quangocrats who shape British sport, listened in silence. The occasional sly grin registered the irony of a moment which deserved a Bateman cartoon: The Man who Told the Truth about 2012 (in private, of course).

I was there as someone who had helped set up and run a lottery-funded organisation, the English Institute of Sport. Its work, in offering medical, scientific and strategic support to athletes in 35 Olympic sports, will be central to the success of Team GB this summer.

In the four years since that meeting, designed to divert Government health funding into sport on the pretext of an anti-obesity campaign, the speaker, a senior figure in an Olympic sport, has been a prominent proponent of the Games' largely imaginary legacy.

I confess I do not have his stomach for mediocrity and mendacity, or his flair for elegantly disguised cynicism. I went to four more such meetings before it became clear the funding – in excess of £100 million – would be commandeered by advertising gurus and PR executives. I gave up. It seemed pointless to challenge the imperfections of a dream, to stand for something more than deceit and self interest.

The Games will not produce leaner,fitter, children. They will not inspire the apathetic, or galvanise the indolent. Obesity rates have tripled over the past 30 years. Participation in 19 sports has declined markedly, over the last two.

That should shame Sport England, the quango who have spent £450m in failing to sustain grassroots activity, but it won't. Their idea of Olympic legacy is to entice (some would say bribe) youngsters into so-called "Sportivate" sessions with free tickets for the Games.

It is a transitory experience, but twilight football in Ipswich, "inclusive dance" in Cumbria and a small rowing project in Buckinghamshire have been packaged to form a photo-opportunity for the Sports Minister. Eat your heart out, Alan Partridge.

There's nowhere to play, even if kids want to. The Olympic Park, which will revert to a building site after the Games, will be unable to cater for local sportsmen and women until the middle of 2014 at the earliest. The Olympic stadium is heading into the hands of grubby opportunists representing West Ham United.

The politics of sport are bitter and Byzantine. Vengeance is taken against athletes with a mind of their own. The scandalous omission of world No 1 Aaron Cook from the GB Taekwondo team is a case in point. Nearly £5m has been wasted on a dysfunctional sport.

Yet the advertising industry continues to believe the holy water of Olympic idealism will wash everything clean. Brands, banks and burger empires seek redemption in photogenic athletes like Jessica Ennis.

The bile is beginning to rise. The shrill orthodoxy of the cheerleaders is starting to grate. Opposition to brand gurus and corporate illusionists is growing. Privately, major Olympic sponsors are finding their voice. One complained to me: "It's a shambles. They take our money but don't understand our world."

Pietersen has no place for England

Kevin Pietersen was born to be a footballer. He is a house-trained Joey Barton, a fusion of David Beckham's brand awareness, John Terry's bluster and Didier Drogba's theatricality.

Loyalty is, inevitably, an alien concept. Pietersen is a South African exile with a "three Lions" tattoo, whose allegiance to England is placed into perspective by his determination to live the Indian dream.

He might insist he values the challenge over the chequebook, but he is a Delhi Daredevil because the price is right. He receives £700k for a few weeks of hit and giggle in the IPL and is treated like Bollywood royalty.

He is now available for anti-sport, lucrative tournaments with no relevance beyond TV. That is his prerogative but the wider issue, of players using representative cricket as a personal platform, deserves a response.

I love Pietersen's batting, which blends impudence and arrogance. It is free-form poetry with extreme violence. But the England coach, Andy Flower, and his equally admirable ally Hugh Morris should deny him the oxygen of Ashes publicity. English cricket has flourished because of a collective mentality, a commitment to marginal gains and consistent improvement. It doesn't need Pietersen, and the tiresome self-absorption he represents.

Where's the credit?

Another season, another sponsor for football's League Cup. Over the years it has failed to sell milk, electrical goods, shopping catalogues and homogenised beer.

How appropriate, in Austerity Britain, that a high-interest credit card should align itself to a competition in which there is zero interest.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck stars as prime suspect Nick Dunne in the film adaptation of Gone Girl
filmBen Affleck and Rosamund Pike excel in David Fincher's film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments