Natalie Haynes: You can't take Olympic pics – you've got the wrong shoes on

The thing is...

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The Independent Online

The thing is that if you really want to ingratiate your overpriced sporting project with ordinary people, then treating them like terrorist scum if they go anywhere near it might be a bad idea.

Olympic security guards are proving that while you can take the bouncer out of the nightclub, you can't remove the basic contempt for humanity that comes with a job which involves judging whether someone can come into a venue or not by what kind of shoes they are wearing.

Photographers are usually a pretty patient bunch, as you can tell from the fact that they will lie in a cold field for six hours to get a picture of a rare bird. And photographers of buildings are probably the most zen people alive, as they have specifically chosen to photograph things which don't even move.

Yet even they have been riled by security guards harassing them near Olympic venues. Yes, you read that preposition correctly. The photographers aren't clambering over the Aquatic Centre, or tunnelling into the stadium. They're wandering past bits of, say, Greenwich, taking a picture of something which will briefly have some people wearing tracksuits in it in a couple of months, and they are being stopped from doing so by private security guards.

G4S, who are providing 10,000 security staff for the Games, have apologised for the heavy-handedness of their guards, but they haven't managed to explain where these guards got the idea that London is now a police state and that they are now basically police, rather than the fluorescent-jacketed bullies they actually are.

Perhaps it's because the Olympics are taking on an unusually elitist air, which has nothing to do with athletes being better than the rest of us at their chosen sport (and at any other sport, in my case, unless we're counting Scrabble).

I was waiting to come back into the UK yesterday morning at Heathrow, queuing to get my passport glanced at by a man who looked like he'd last had a day off in February. At the side of the queue marathon were signs, explaining that if you were part of the "Olympic family", you should make yourself known to a member of staff.

The British may be born to queue, but that doesn't mean we have any tolerance for queue-jumpers. And what the hell is the Olympic family? Zeus, and his numerous offspring? I am at a loss to see why someone tangentially involved in a sporting event that doesn't happen till July should get to hop, skip and jump past everyone else in April.

The London Olympics is proving a world-beater at only one thing so far: treating the taxpayers who have funded them like second-class citizens.

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