How can we beat Beijing at hosting Olympic Games and improve our place in the medal table? Well, we can make the most of our Britishness. Chris Addison explains how
The Beijing Olympics, alas, are finally over and tedious normality can resume. The population at large can stop calling in sick and go back to work, Gaby Logan can put away that astonishing array of frocks that the wardrobe department had left over from Abigail’s Party, Hazel Irvine can stop finding foreign names hilarious and Clare Balding can go back home to (presumably) her horse. Attention can now turn to the London Olympiad (neatly ignoring the two major international football tournaments, the general election and the two Ashes series that will be held in the interim. Not to mention what will seem like about 34 bloody rounds of Strictly Come Dancing).
Our task is twofold and it is clear: we must make a better job of putting on the Olympics than an autocratic regime with Croesian financial resources, no critical press to speak of and a billion people’s-worth of docile, compliant labour AND we need to deliver an even bigger gold medal haul than this year. My friends, only the construction industry can do this. Oh sure, I realise that the gold medal bit ought to be up to our athletes, but they did so well in Beijing that they’ve earned themselves the right to a bit of time off and, being British, will presumably interpret that to mean two years down the pub, smashed on Bacardi Breezers. This means that we have to look at other ways to power up the medals table. Short of becoming Chinese (which, although a proven way of winning gold medals, does suffer from the unfortunate side effect of those medals being ascribed to the Chinese team’s total) the only other real options lie with you.
So. Quick overview of how things stand. I drove past the Olympic site the other day and I’m no quantity engineer or civil surveyor or what have you, but I’d say that what I passed looked a little like a giant version of the mess you get when the remedial class has been let loose in the sand pit. Not that that is a bad thing, you understand. Things are going according to plan and are on course for exactly the panicked kick-bollock scramble in the last three months that the newspapers have pencilled into their 2012 desk diaries. (There are some very forward-thinking branches of WH Smith around Fleet Street.) What this means is that we’re still at a stage where we can modify our plans to the best of our advantage. Let’s look at some options.
We must make a better job of the Olympics than an autocratic regime with Croesian financial resources, no critical press and a billion docile, compliant labourers
First, we ought to consider redesigning the Olympic stadium to make it less the all-purpose centrepiece icon of the Games, suited to hosting the glamourous track and field disciplines, and more a bloody great velodrome. Obviously, the Olympic park is already to contain a velopark and you should continue with this, as it will be the setting for the cycling events, but if we lay out the main stadium in such a way that all athletics events have to be carried out on bicycles then this will play to Team GB’s strengths, as I understand them.
We need also to consider what people nowadays, with scant regard for either the English language or whether they sound like idiots, refer to as the “mental wellness” of our athletes. There is a tremendous advantage to competing in one’s own country. The comfort of feeling in your place and not suffering homesickness can be of enormous benefit. However, it can also be needlessly negated by the shiny, international unfamiliarity of a spanking new athletes’ village – the sporting equivalent of the shopping centre foodcourt. We must make sure the village feels as British as possible. This will mean fitting all cavity walls with sub-woofers pumping basslines that you know you know but can’t quite make out all night long, erecting enough streetlamps for gangs of local hoodies to shuffle around and installing every athlopartment (as I imagine they will be called) with a commodious enough letterbox to ensure that every time they come in from a hard day’s clay pigeon shooting, they trip over half a rainforest’s worth of pizza menus.
It might also be an idea to design the layout of the village so that everyone is accommodated next to someone with whom they don’t have a terribly comfortable relationship on account of a former spat. This should prove no problem with Team GB, as since the 17th century we’ve pissed off pretty much every country going with methods ranging from stealing their land and not giving it back for 200 years to calling their Infantas fat.
If we lay out the stadium so that all athletics events have to be carried out on bicycles , this will play to Team GB’s strengths
Now is the time, constructioneers, to come to the aid of your country. Do your worst. I mean best. Which in this case is the same thing.
Chris Addison is a writer and comedian