The London Olympic Games promised to be epic, but Londoners and spectators are less than impressed. While fans and family members of athletes are getting increasingly frustrated by being refused tickets to Olympic events, local London businesses are not getting the expected boost in sales they were anticipating. Many merchants and owners are saying their sales are down 30-35%.
Hotels have been hit especially hard, many not seeing the “filled to capacity” they were promised by Olympic and government officials. In anticipation of high demand, most hotels raised their rates significantly only to find that most English patrons weren’t interested in paying and many major tour companies stopped looking for availability of rooms. In an effort to fill the rooms, they are now slashing prices but it appears to be too little too late. The economic damage has been done.
Londoners and locals have been told for months that London would be a zoo with hundreds of thousands of out of town guests, and most locals have listened. Tourists have listened too. London typically hosts 300,000 visitors in a normal summer, which is a boon to local shops, but for the summer of 2012, the Olympics have been all-consuming, keeping regular tourism to a bare minimum. While the Olympic party has brought close to 100,000 out-of-towners into the city, this is a far cry from 300,000. Not to mention that most of these are there for the games, not downtown shop browsing.
What is further frustrating to locals is the large numbers of empty seats at many events and competitions. Englishmen who tried to get tickets to the Games months ago were informed that they were sold out. As it does in America, “sold-out” tends to communicate the idea of “every seat being filled,” but this is far from the case. Many “sold-out” events are being viewed by a few hundred in sparsely occupied grandstands, while many potential ticket holders sit at home, aggravated. Prime Minister David Cameron has even gotten in on the situation, asking for Olympic officials and organizers to look for a solution to the ticketing problem. Apparently the “Olympic family,” meaning athletes, parents, friends, and dignitaries, have been given the majority of the tickets to the events, leaving very few open for “regular” sports fans. But when the majority of “Olympic family” ticket-holders don’t bother appearing for events, it causes the “regular” guys—paying customers who were told that the events were unavailable—to get a bit hot under the collar.
While this is all completely understandable, it also highlights a problem with bureaucracy—any bureaucracy. The Olympic family has developed something of an entitlement mentality to the Games, to the point that they think of them as their Games. Forgetting that the Games should be for the world and for the countries being represented, the Olympic family has forgotten about its obligation to the fans—their fellow countrymen. The Olympic family has started to believe its own press. Thinking that all is required to spur a city’s economy is to host the Olympics, the Olympic family fails to recognize the burden it places on everyone. London, just like every host city before it, has spent vast amounts of time and taxpayer money preparing for the Games, and the Olympic family simply rolls into town with its grandeur and self-importance on full display. The Games can be, and should be, an event for everyone to enjoy—a time for the world to peacefully settle its differences on the playing field. But the bloated and entitlement-minded Olympic bureaucracy has allowed it to become the very antithesis of this. No one will be happier to watch the grand spectacle wind down and leave town than Londoners themselves. They will be more than happy to get their town back.
NOTE: Any similarity readers may recognize between the Olympic Games and the Obama administration is completely coincidental. Readers should not draw any parallels between the two, although the author would be greatly encouraged if they did. 🙂