Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gold Medal Boonies

Let's be frank - our hopes are not high. In Beijing, Team GB will comprise 313 athletes, and according to Sports Commissar Gerry Sutcliffe, it is "vital" they win their targeted 41 medals, including 10-12 golds. But outside the sports quangocracy nobody believes they'll succeed.

In Athens we won a mere 30 medals, including 9 golds. We were tenth in the official medals table. But adjusted for population, we were 28th in gold medals, and 31st for medals overall. We came in well behind such sporting giants as the Bahamas, Latvia, Estonia, and even Borat's Kazakhstan.

Of course, our miserable failure wasn't for lack of money. One of BOM's very first posts noted that each medal cost British taxpayers £2.4m in terms of athlete funding. And since then, money has been shovelled in under the £0.8bn SS-Totenkopf Standarte “UKSport” programme to breed a race of Olympic superathletes for 2012. But just as elsewhere, welfarism simply doesn't work - it only breeds dependency (see this blog for a real Olympic superathlete ripping into its crippling effect among our gallant British losers, who notoriously lack "the hunger").

Still, at least the athletes are out there actually doing it. Even more teeth grinding is the vast number of bureaucrats, state broadcasters, politicos, and assorted hangers on we have to pay for, even though they will never break sweat and will spend their days dossing in luxury hotels and gorging themselves on free hospitality.

This morning we hear that:

"Whilst Team GB comprises 313 athletes, more than 600 publicly-funded workers will be attending the Games, including government ministers, press officers, local councillors and policemen...

Gordon Brown is expected to travel to Beijing with 20 staff, at a cost of £114,000, whilst the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will send 13 people and other government departments another 11..."

Tony only took six to Athens.

"The taxpayer is also footing the £240,000 bill for 39 Metropolitan Police staff to go on a fact-finding tour in Beijing, while Dorset Police will send four people to find out how to police the 2012 sailing event and Greenwich council, which will help host the gymnastics in 2012 in the O2 Arena, is sending six officials at a cost of £14,000...

The London Development Agency, whose remit is to attract investment to the capital, has spent £3m to hire out a private members' club in Beijing for the duration of the Games. New London Mayor Boris Johnson considered axeing the venue altogether after being horrified at the original £4.6m budget..."

Er... so why didn't he?

And the biggest culprit?

Yup, our old friends round at the unaccountable state bradcaster:
"By far the biggest British contingent at the Games will be the BBC, which has sent 437 staff at a cost to the licence payer of £3 million. The record number is 33 more than the corporation sent to Athens."

And that's on top of who know how many tens of millions the BBC paid for the UK broadcasting rights (total IOC income from TV in 2008 is now put at $2.5bn).

Look, cards on the table: Tyler hasn't the faintest interest in the Olympics, so may not be the best person to ask. But WTF should taxpayers like him be forced to stump up for a circus? WTF should he pay for hundreds of state employees to boonie their way round the world?

PS We've probably mentioned this before, but it's very striking how our medal successes are always dominated by public school sports. Rowing, sailing, and horse riding accounted for four of our nine Athens golds. And if you add in middle class cycling that goes up to six. Wonder what we should conclude from that? Hmm?

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