Olympics-schlimpics

I must admit, I’ve always had a bit of a downer on the Olympics. Not the original ideal, which is laudable, and it’s probably great fun to go and see some of the events. But, and call me an old curmudgeon, the endless niche sports, most of which have an audience that makes ‘Cash in the Attic’ look like primetime TV, the dilution of the ‘amateur’ status through all the sponsorship and, most importantly, the impact staging the thing has on host nations, make it a bit of an absurdity. I’m glad that there’s some evidence that kids are getting excited about it, but I think improving weather conditions will do more to foster participation in sport in this country than anything else down the line. We already know about the spiralling costs of the London Olympics. Predicatable. We also know, from the experience of every summer and winter Olympics games, that it will be a poisoned chalice in other ways, a rerun on a larger scale of the Millennium Dome. Now, of course, we hear about the (predictable) impact on regional projects, including Liverpool’s own museums. Not that Liverpool 08 gets much coverage in London, so the big-wigs there probably don’t mind. We learn today that National Museums Liverpool will have its three-year Grant Aid settlement from Tessa  Jowell’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport  “significantly” cut, leading to possible charges to the public for attractions that would previously have been free, a reduction in programmes and perhaps other impacts of which we are so far unaware. All because the government needs to find an extra £900 million to cover the (predictably) spiralling costs of the London Olympics.  I agree with Councillor Mike Storey, the former head of Liverpool City Council, when he says “It’s absolutely barmy,” that the cuts will fall just when the focus is on Liverpool, in 2008.   A spokeswoman from the government told the Liverpool Daily Post: “It is certainly a widespread feeling across the country that the arts are suffering as a result of us winning the Olympic bid. There is a cost to the public purse of staging the Olympics but his will put us in an international spotlight which will benefit cultural life.” So there you have it, a one-off sporting event in London will benefit the cultural life of the whole of the U.K. more than the promotion of regional arts on a sustained basis. Go figure. Visit National Museums Liverpool

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