The Olympic Hangover

This morning, Great Britain and Northern Ireland is waking up with a massive metaphorical hangover – and in many cases, an all too physical one as well.

The last two weeks, even for someone like me who was moderately cynical about the Olympics, has been a very strange, and at times rather wonderful experience. The sheer tension of the final seconds in the shooting when Peter Wilson won with his last two shots; or the drama of the last clear round in the show jumping, or the amazing fitness of our triathletes – looking like two young brothers from a different age, effortlessly jogging around their newspaper delivery routes.

Jade Jones, Taekwondo Champion

Sports I have no real interest in whatsoever, suddenly becoming incredibly gripping and emotional. And the lump in the throat becoming a surprisingly common experience.

And where did we get all these amazing, talented, charming young women from? Who knew that the country was full of these goddesses, swimming, rowing, running, sailing, riding, cycling, throwing, boxing and kicking with the best in the world? And my goodness, they made the people who run our country look male, pale and stale…  Could we just appoint Grainger, Ennis, Pendleton and a few others straight into the Cabinet?

Helen Glover, Rowing Gold Medallist

Then, there was the transformation of London. The couple of times I ventured into town, the difference was immediate and obvious. Fewer business people or civil servants, but lots of slightly bemused visitors, competitors and officials, being guided with great good humour by what seemed like millions of smiley people in purple and pink outfits – the “games makers”.

It may not have been good news for a lot of businesses, although the whole area around Hyde Park, Mayfair and into Piccadilly was buzzing (to say the least) during the mens triathlon last Tuesday. Strangely though, Fortnum and Mason was pretty quiet inside - it looked like the average Triathlon watcher is not a Fortnum customer But to many of us, it was a unique vision,  never to be re-experienced in our lifetimes, of a totally different and very enjoyable London.

And the transport generally worked; the Military were brilliant - perhaps it was luck, but it turned out to be a master stroke having them doing so much of the security rather than G4S amateurs. And of course, our competitors were great, as were others from many, many countries.

Lawrence Clarke - one for Rio?

But.. I fear for the next few weeks and months. It looks unlikely that the Games will prove to have had a positive economic effect on the UK. And I honestly think there could be negative psychological consequences amongst the population. It's the come down after the high (legal or otherwise); the morning after the night before; clearing up after that great party. And as we get back to reality, we'll look around, coming out of our Olympic daze and realize that the coalition government is falling out like kids in the playground; the Middle East looks as worrying as ever; and the economy appears to be sinking steadily further into the mire.

So reality striking again may come as a bit of an unpleasant shock to those of us who have spent two glorious weeks sitting in front of the (absolutely incredible) BBC coverage, singing God Save the Queen at regular intervals ….

Is there anything we can do about that? Well, I don't have any immediate answers to the economic situation, but I've been thinking about it from a more parochial procurement angle. And tomorrow we'll feature a few ideas as to how we might capture a little of that Olympic spirit in our day to day jobs!

Voices (4)

  1. Paul Wright:

    There may well be a hangover, but it is nice to have a demonstration that Britain CAN do things well, so there is some room for optimism in our lives. All is not doomed to failure.

    And it showed a Britain I recognised – where “always look on the bright side of life” is an alternative national anthem, and where my neighbour’s youngest daughter cheered Mo Farah though to the finish line and only then found out that he (like her) is a Muslim.

    The grimness and hard work is still there waiting for us – but sometimes you need to feel that things are possible in order to get through.

  2. Dan:

    I was surprised that this ‘feelgood factor’ that I’ve heard so much about actually exists. My inner cynic is crying.

    1. Final Furlong:

      Appropriate use of word/s from Peter: the hangover. The worst type is when you wake up after a phenomenal night out and you’re absolutely skint (upon realising you went to the hole in the wall twice at some stage during the evening and took out handfuls of notes…on top of the wedge that you originally had).

      The predicted cost of the games when London won the bid in 2005 was £2.37billion. That budget figure climbed to £9.3bn in 2007.

      Some folk have already started digging and they have revealed that the land for the venues costing £760m, the tube drivers’ bonuses (for example) costing over £6m, and the £330k paid for a single sculpture for the games (for example) were not in the £9bn+ budget. There are many other examples.

      I too am trying my best not to be cynical. But, as intimated above, Lord Coe will do well out of it.

  3. Rob:

    Lord Coe has been put in charge of legacy, with £140m to spend (until 2014…), so we’re all saved. Perhaps he had Twenty Twelve vision….

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