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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Australia's failure at the Games is a wake-up call for legacy-mad UK

This article of mine appears over at The Week.

LEGACY, legacy, legacy. We are told daily by Coe, Cameron, Boris and countless BBC commentators that Team GB's success in the current Olympics will inspire a new generation to even greater success at future Games.

Well, I'm sorry to a bit of a party-pooper, but we shouldn't be getting too carried away just yet.

The experience of Australia, who hosted the Games just 12 years ago, should act as a reality check.

You can read the whole piece here.


Douglas said...

If I ever become an evil dictator, I'll make sure to never host an Olympic Games in my domain in an attempt to spread propaganda for the superiority of my regime.

Hitler tried it in 1936, it backfired with Jesse Owens winning 4 gold medals, and Berlin in flaming ruins 9 years later.

Brezhnev tried it in 1980, and while the USSR was highly successful in the games due to the American boycott, 11 years later, the Soviet Union ceased to exist.

China tried it in 2008, and Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals. I tell my children this story, and they reply "Oh, that means China will collapse in 2021. It's a simple arithmetic progression, 9, 11, 13."

Neil Clark said...

Hi Douglas,
That's very interesting!

Neil Clark said...

The 'legacy' of hosting the Games certainly seems to be a negative one. Spain hosted in 1992, Greece in 2004. You cld also look at the US, hosts in 1996, and say that 12 years later, the country was in real trouble, economically & with wars in Afghanistan & Iraq.

brian said...

Sports are failing in australia: reasons:
1. Govt funding is cut
Cuts in funding in the past few years have been cited as a major reason for Australia's Olympic decline. "We've been down on the sort of financial support that we were accustomed to when compared with the financial support that's coming through from other countries, particularly here in Europe," Kevin Gospor, Australia's senior member of the IOC said.
2. Laziness
Australia's swimming boss Leigh Nugent meanwhile has blamed Australian society for not producing enough top sports stars. "We live in a society where people look for the easy way," he said.
Tom Switzer, editor of The Spectator Australia and a former Australian schoolboy athletics champion, believes the problem is arrogance. "Too many athletes believed their own publicity, especially so during this age of social media. But perhaps London 2012 has been the failure Australia had to have. A lesson in the danger of hubris and the wisdom of modesty."
4. Self interest:
Another issue has been the "brain drain" - the departure of some of Australia's best coaches to the competition. As Paul Kent of the Sydney Daily Telegraph points out, Aussie coaches are "giving Asutralians black eyes all over London" - none more so that Dennis Cotterell, who is rumoured to have earned half a million dollars coaching the Chinese swimmer Sun Yang to his 1500m and 400m freestyle victories.

add the above up and you get capitalism is bad for sport...ironically, china is bashed for its state system, saying it doesnt allow professional athletes freedom, when its performing far better!

also australian tennis began to suffer when local tennis courts wer closed...

brian said...

Hitler and the olympics...youd be surprised:

it seems historians may have lied about this incident.

brian said...

China tried it in 2008, and Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals. I tell my children this story, and they reply "Oh, that means China will collapse in 2021. It's a simple arithmetic progression, 9, 11, 13."'

this is where children go the hands of their parents....
US still is near top of medal tally in 2012!
Moral: some people are not good at drawing lessons..they are good at projecting their own prejudices...onto their children

MaliceInWonderland said...

@ Brian

As an Australian taxpayer I resent my money being spent on the off chance Australia might win a medal at some corporate shin-dig.

Getting kids active is a good idea, but it's an ends in itself. Creating another generation of self-entitled, government funded athletes is not a worthwhile goal.