Mark Steel: Let's hand out gold medals to big business

If we're trying to attract global companies, we don't want to let on we've got poor areas

Share
Related Topics

I love the Olympics. During the Games in Beijing, I watched for nine hours without a break until the commentator said, "And you have to say, that's a CRITICAL moment in the history of Algerian judo." David Cameron is another fan, who explained how excited he was about the London Games. His reason, he said, was, "the eyes of the world will be on Britain", providing "a chance for companies from across the globe to interact and do business in the UK." He might as well have added, "So thank Christ for that because all the running and stuff bores me senseless."

One of these chances will come at a special business conference before the Games, with executives from, among others, Google, Goldman Sachs, Vodafone. But we're missing out, because this conference shouldn't be before the Games, it should be an event in them, with commentators whispering, "What an atmosphere as we approach the final of the Freestyle Tax-Dodging. Can anyone challenge the mighty Vodafone, dominant in this field for so long. Oh, it's a false start, Goldman Sachs transferred two billion dollars to the Seychelles before the gun went off."

Cameron said critics should "stop grumbling". Presumably he means critics such as protesters in India, who are upset that one of the main sponsors is Dow Chemical, the company that, as Union Carbide, which Dow later bought, poisoned the town of Bhopal, killing several thousand people. But if you've been poisoned, instead of grumbling it's much more healthy to enjoy interacting companies sponsoring some weightlifting.

Another recent decision has been to allow executives of Coca-Cola to ride to the stadium in the lanes put by for the athletes. So now Coca-Cola will probably complain that this isn't enough of a privilege and they'll be allowed to drive round the track during the races, while a commentator screams, "So Usain Bolt is finally beaten, by the CEO of Coca-Cola in an Alfa Romeo in a stunning time of 5.3 seconds."

The original route of the marathon was changed so it no longer goes through the poorer parts of the East End of London, and you can understand why. If we're trying to attract globally interacting companies, we don't want to let on we've got poor areas. So maybe it will change again, to 250 laps of the gardens in Buckingham Palace, then a taxi to Kensington and finish with a circuit of Harrods.

The initial bid was based on a "legacy", but now there's little mention of using the income from these companies to fill London with tennis courts or running tracks. But there will be the legacy of an Olympic rowing lake, thoughtfully provided in grounds used by the underprivileged schoolboys of Eton. You can grumble all you like, but when you see their little faces light up in the knowledge that they're no longer deprived of their own lake, your eyes well up with pride that you're from a country that creates a chance for companies to interact.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Jihadist militants leading away captured Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, Iraq, in June  

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Robert Fisk
India's philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco feminist Vandana Shiva arrives to give a press conference focused on genetically modified seeds on October 10, 2012  

Meet Vandana Shiva: The deserving heir to Mahatma Ghandi's legacy

Peter Popham
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home