There is this beast, a weird kind of vulture, a parasite, which has evolved over the last one hundred years, adapting itself to first the modernist and now the post-modernist world. For the most part, like any vulture, it takes to the sky, too high to be noticed. But every four years, needing to feed, needing to reproduce, it swoops down and tears a chunk off the world’s back. It sounds horrific, a real blood fest, a terrible tale of attack and furious but futile resistance. But far from it, the beast has the power of section, the power to induce hysteria and obsession, which causes kings, queens and presidents, to bear their backs, or at least the backs of their minions, to win favour and associate with the beast. This is a waspish vulture, one of those that lives in the desert, injecting its eggs into the meat of its unwitting host, its ideas into its mind.
Such was the case in July 2005, when in Singapore, that very beast, the self-titled supreme authority of the Olympic Movement, awarded London the right to bear its back, to host the 2012 Olympics. London ended up winning a two-way fight with its northern European rival Paris, 54 votes to 50, after bids from Moscow, New York and Madrid were eliminated. A delegation of London sycophants, including David Beckham, Tony Blair and Prince William had gathered in Singapore to seduce, charm and reason with the family of vultures, the voting members of the International Olympics Committee. Meanwhile, amongst the dust and carbon monoxide of an overcast Trafalgar Square, bejewelled Olympians Steve Cram and Kelly Holmes were elevated before a congregation of commoners, journalists and idling tourists, whilst a mounted screen projected proceedings from Singapore. As the king of the vultures, the chairman of the IOC, Jacques Rogge made his way to the rostrum in Singapore, the Trafalgar Square crowd projected its emotions into Kelly Holmes, who crushed by the weight of occasion, was stooped, hands clasped against her mouth, staring downwards. In Singapore, the Paris delegation, a set of well fed bureaucrats in their fifties, stood before Rogge, each delegate confidently claiming the shoulder of his neighbour, smiling, smirking almost, as if the taste of champagne was already tickling their lips. Paris was considered the city with the better bid.
The London delegation, also stood before Rogge, were as young children in a strict private school, standing to attention, arms to the side, isolated. So frozen by nerves were they, they couldn’t even pick up the glasses of water that had provided so they might moisten their bone-dry palates. London delegates, knowing they were the underdogs, worked the floor in Singapore with a naïve sense of optimism, seducing IOC members with the sex appeal of David Beckham, the nobility of Prince William and the charm of Tony Blair. The light beige hues of their suits were a subconscious attempt to mask the warmongering nature of the state, which had sexually and physically assaulted thousands of people in foreign lands, and supported a private militia to steal from the coffers of the poor and middling in their own land, the capital of which they were there to represent. Seen as a lackey to the United States in an illegal invasion of Afghanistan, there was an understanding that the world, and perhaps the IOC, would favour France, one of the countries, which had opposed the invasion and put the playground bullies in their place.
Stood before the delegates and a worldwide audience, king of vultures Jacques Rogge made the most of his moment. He gave a pithy introduction, after which he took an eternity to bury his thumb into an envelope, which contained a piece of paper, upon which the name of the host city was indicated. He slowly cut his way around the envelope; appearing to believe the audience received great pleasure from the delicate furrowing of his fingers, the extent of the pleasure commensurate with the time it took for him to finish the task. Finally, after readjusting his gate and composing himself, from the envelope Rogge eked out a piece of paper, upon whose surface the answer to everyone’s question was inscribed. Looking deadpan, he read verbatim. In Trafalgar Square, the first hint of victory was a yelp, which sounded a little like a lamb reaching climax, which, discus-like, hurtled over the heads of the bewitched crowd and their union jack umbrellas, breaking into Rogge’s televised drawl, and pre-empting his denouement. By the time Rogge was delivering his final words, the first guttural vibrations of a collective primeval scream had already ascended. Evidently some people had access to a radio. The vibrations were soon followed by a medley of shrieks and roars, needlessly supported by piped, tempestuous, classical music. The people incarnate, Kelly Holmes, jumped up and down, tasting Olympic victory once again. She wrapped her arms around Steve Cram, who heaving Holmes into the sky, produced the iconic image of London’s joy at being awarded the 2012 Olympic Games.