Update Olympics 2012 : A Brief Sprint

                                            Image source via my friend Teresa Leong,

****** Click here for an update of media reactions AFTER the opening ceremony from the BBC and ********another here

The 2012 Olympics opening ceremony is tonight. Expectations run high to see Danny Boyle's spectacular curtain raiser to the next 16 days competition for the glittering prizes of world class sport.  

For many in Britain the armchair is becoming the sole place where live sport action is viewed.

I'm trying to get into the spirit of it but unlike the honed and super fit athletes, maybe I haven't prepared properly. I like sport and I hope that the true Olympic spirit will rub off on me at some point but the events in the Olympic village are being overshadowed by many other wider events taking place in our global village at present.

Enthusiasm wained when I saw the Orwellian one eyed Wenlock, the Olympic mascot, and Mandeville, the Paralympic mascot, and the truly awful choice of Olympic symbol. It brought to mind that phrase "In the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is King."

So all I have for today are a few eye openers and a sprint through some headlines to make do.

See here for Andrew Gilligan's  article to suggest that the Olympic Spirit is not as alive as the hype surrounding it suggests.

Full explanation of background to mascots here and see article here.

The opening ceremony's theme is Isles of Wonder, inspired by William Shakespeare's play about shipwrecked castaways, The Tempest. An actor is due to recite Caliban's speech, the one that runs 'Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises'.

Despite Boyle's enchanted-island inspiration, few expect the man who depicted Scottish heroin addicts in Trainspotting and Indian slum dwellers in Slumdog Millionaire to deliver a sanitised image of Britain. 

At present some may re-caption that vision of Britain as Isles of Wonder and Woe with a quirky eccentricity thrown in.

Boyle has said the show is 'trying to show the best of us, but we're also trying to show many, many different things about our country'.

The ceremony will open at 9:00pm with the sound of a 27-tonne bell — the largest harmonically tuned bell in the world — forged at London's 442-year-old Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which made London's Big Ben and Philadelphia's Liberty Bell.

Boyle hasn't disclosed what comes next, but has said the ceremony will depict Britain's past, present and future.

Earlier this year Simon Jenkins wrote this article 

Danny Boyle explains his vision of the Isle of Wonder and how it fits the Olympic Spirit

This one examines Caliban's speech from Shakespeare's The Tempest

This morning's Jonathan Freedland article has some interesting comments !! They seem to oscillate somewhere between these two extremes below :

"What sort of people are we?
The sort of people who enjoy the harmless fun of someone ridiculously trotting around the country with a torch, the sort of people who wish the athletes well, who understand that subverting the efforts of the corporations is truly British, and who shame them into paying their taxes.
We are the people who understand no matter how hard the here-today-gone-tomorrow politicians try to be centre stage they are just a sideshow.
We are the people who understand there is indeed something noble in striving to do your personal best, and if that means your the best in the world then that's nice too.
Have a good Olympics." 

and this one :

"It's about selling stuff - not just burgers and sugar drinks, poison and debt, but selling an idea of a particular world back to itself. The idea is predicated on fake competition and glitter, dubious achievement and a magician's misdirect. It's meant to make us look one way while we're being robbed at the other, it's meant to close our eyes and numb us into a collective idiocy. It's a confederacy of flags colluding in the corporate takeover of our consciousness. It's ATOS sponsoring the paralympics. It's the killers of Bhopal wrapping an entire stadium in lies. It's Zil lanes for the rich and a circus for the poor. And every writer who colludes in this queasy mulch is as culpable of Ronald MacDonald. It's not about us, Jonathan Freedland. It's about them."
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