London is Drowning (and I Live by the River)
- Written by J.N. Bordonaba
- July 31, 2012
The Summer Olympics are going to be a train wreck this year. That isn’t to say that it isn’t always a train wreck, but the London coordinators do not possess the same organization and discipline that the Beijing coordinators had in 2008. Do you remember that? The artistry, the precision, the sheer volume of people? I bet the turnout rate at an iPod manufacturing facility would make your head explode.
The London Olympics kicked off on July 27, and we’re all accustomed to the news stories that typically precede the Games: the traditional exposes on struggling athletes or stories informing us on who the contenders are this year (we’ll watch beach volleyball, but don’t ask us who’s playing). This year, however, London is stepping up the crazy. If these actual news stories are any indication of how chaotic the Olympics are going to be this year, London might just be as memorable as Beijing.
Ethiopian Boy Goes Missing
On June 29, a London 2012 representative released a statement to the press that said, "A young boy of 15 has gone missing and clearly this is of great concern to us.”
The young boy in question was one Natnael Yemane of Ethiopia, who had been chosen to take part in the Olympic torch relay as part of the London Olympics’ “International Inspiration” programme. This story is a train wreck on multiple levels; let’s break it down, shall we?
Let’s start with the fact that little Natnael was given the rare honor of being selected as torchbearer as part of this prestigious “International Inspiration” thing. He was one of twenty youngsters picked from countries you’d have to be taken to at gunpoint (Azerbaijan, represent!): countries that are full of people ready to leave, and yes, that means by foot. Natnael should be an inspiration to teenagers all over Ethiopia and... What’s that? Olympic organizers lost him within hours of his participation in the relay? In the bowels of Nottingham? Way to drop the torch, London.
My favourite part of this story is the involvement of the Nottinghamshire police. Appropriately, Olympic organizers completely lost their shit when they lost Natnael, and their panic was reciprocated by the police, who stated, “We are concerned for Natnael as he does not speak very good English and is not thought to be streetwise.”
You know, because he’s Ethiopian. Also, Nottingham (Robin Hood’s hood, iffin you’re unfamiliar) is apparently an incredibly dangerous city. Give it a quick Google search and cringe at its adorable squalor. The police then go on to describe Natnael as being “black, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and of thin build.” You know, because he’s Ethiopian. Did Nottinghamshire police consider the possibility that Natnael could’ve run away? YOU KNOW, BECAUSE HE’S ETHIOPIAN?
The entire story reads like an absurd joke, and the punch line isn’t even worth it; Natnael was found, unharmed, a day later. I’m assuming he got lost in Sherwood Forest.
The Heathrow Games
Maybe losing one of their “International Inspirations” mere weeks before the actual Olympic Games was just a bump in the road for Jolly ‘Ole London. Surely it can’t be a sign of things to come, right?
To Olympic organizers, it was just a hurdle to leap over… only to immediately get hit by a bus. As Olympians began to arrive for the games, London’s Heathrow Airport got them through customs surprisingly fast, garnering compliments aplenty for the efficiency of the organizers. However, once the athletes left the airport, they were on their own.
Once the Olympians left Heathrow, Olympians were instructed to take a bus, or more often, wait several hours for a bus that would take them on the 45 minute journey to the Olympic village. Olympic organizers hired only the best Irish bus drivers, who know little of navigating through London and even less on how to operate a GPS. This has resulted in a couple of teams going on winding four-hour-long journeys around London after daylong flights from their native countries.
During the course of a week, both the American and Australian teams got stuck on the bus tour. The Australians took it with humility and grace, claiming that Sydney also had its’ share of problems when they hosted back in 2000. The Americans, however, immediately began to bitch, taking their complaints to Twitter for the world to see. USA! USA!
Kazakhstan Brings the Glory (and the Horsemeat)
This is, without a doubt, my favourite story preceding the Olympics. It might be on my list of favourite news stories of all time.
In mid-July, BBC News reported a news snippet on the Kazakh team’s journey to the Olympics and the difficulty they were facing in importing one of their country’s traditional food staples into the United Kingdom. What’s on the menu in Kazakhstan? Horsemeat sausages.
Dried horsemeat sausage, known as “kazy”, is a cherished delicacy in Kazakhstan. It’s full of protein and the good vibes essential to any serious Olympian’s diet, but, due to the United Kingdom’s strict meat import laws, the Kazakhs might not be able to bring the meat.
This story is one of those news blips of no consequence, but that’s what makes it so suspenseful. Was Kazakhstan successful in getting the horsemeat into England? If not, what will they do? It’s not like there aren’t horses in England. Part of me hopes that the Kazakh team will have to be creative in acquiring their kazy, and if that means keeping a ton of horses in Olympic Village, so be it. Maybe they could also psych out their opponents with the ol’ “horsehead in the bed” trick. Either way, Kazakhstan is the team to watch this year.
Let’s be honest, none of us are actually planning on watching the Olympic games this year. Under the veil of “patriotism”, we’ll rally behind our country’s teams, even if we’re not sure what sport they’re playing (Badminton? That’s, like, baby tennis, right? USA!). The Olympic organizers themselves aren’t even trying, as they haven’t even bothered to properly prepare and get things like “security” taken care of, or “asses (arses) in seats” in any of their stadiums anywhere in England. London is taking home the gold in not giving a shit, and do you know what that means for us international spectators? Bona fide entertainment.
Until Rio de Janeiro steps up the game in 2016, of course.