Dimitris Rapidis

The day came and London is set to stage the Olympic Games until 18th of August. For less than a month London will be the center of athletics in each corner of the world. But do we really care about this exceptional event or we are thinking behind the scene having in mind previous experience from Greece and China?

In 2004 Greece’s national confidence and preparedness was reaching immense levels. Everyone was endorsing the cause of bringing in Athens this unique event after over a century from the first hosting of the games in its country of origin in 1896. For almost a month Greeks were behaving as they have never done before showing self-esteem, team spirit, building a marvelous and united group of devoted citizens towards the national target: to prepare and present the best Olympics ever organized.

Finally, trillions of euro were invested for the building of stadiums, the preparation of the advertising part, the incitement of sponsors, the catering of VIPs and the restructuring of the entire image of the city. Eight years after, every investment has no meaningful and essential result for the Greek society and the re-branding of Greece totally failed. Almost all stadiums and athletic complexes were left abandoned and destroyed by the pass of the time and thus the post-management of the games ended up to be completely inadequate and useless for the society.

In China the aim was similar. For the Chinese to build and extrovert and friendly image of the country despite strong allegations for mistreatment of construction workers and misuse of the working force, and for the foreigners to bring worldwide and multinational brands in the country in order to explode its vast market. For democratic voices, the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 were never invested with mere interest over the games but it was rather an effort to press for democratization the monolithic and authoritative regime regarding the banning of Internet and the general policy of China over energy. Four years after China remains an idiotype of semi-democratic governance with centralized ruling and with human rights being consistently violated for the sake of the regime’s stability.

Now in London the critical point of concern is whether the city is fully-prepared to host such a number of visitors due to its environmental conditions and the excessive levels of humidity as a result of misconduct in terms of energy policy. London Olympics are also coincided with the questioning of Britain’s future in the European Union and the shift of Cameron’s policy over immigration. We are expecting London to present something different from what we have seen in the past, yet we do have to point out that in the midst of recession Britain’s policy-making will be in the center of debates during the games. And as it is often experienced, the more the medals an Olympic team will bring, the more the confidence of the country will rise up. For Britain it is now a good chance to combine the exert of soft power through the Olympics with the making of hard politics in Europe.

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