The outcome of this approach to the Olympics is that my religious zeal for London 2012 is roughly the same as everyone else’s religious zeal for other, lesser-known athletic competitions; namely, it is non-existent. This is a far more reasonable and mature approach than that which has been adopted by the British government. Our “heroes,” lest we forget, engage in individual competition all the time, none of which the media seems to call heroic — for example, on a biennial basis in the European Athletic Championships (2006, Gothenburg; 2010, Barcelona; and 2012, most recently, in Helsinki). But (1) nobody apart from track and field buffs talk about the hero-rockstar-legends who changed the course of history in Gothenburg and (2) no multi-billion-pound infrastructure investments were made in Helsinki anytime recently.
This is because (1) none of us were paying any attention when they were running in circles in Gothenburg and (2) it was a track and field meet, for Christ’s sake, not first contact with an alien civilization. It is perfectly possible to hold a track and field meet without spending a dime: you just set a time and a date for everyone to turn up, say “go,” and time how long it takes them to go from A to B. Winner gets a ribbon. Piece of cake.
D’ye think Paris might still be interested?