Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Olympic Legacy?

Not that there is anything remotely political in the Olympic games and no-one has ever thought of trying to make any gain through their handling or management over the years. But after thirteen years of a political party whose very earliest piece of legislation was the removal of all legally held pistols for target shooting. And who's second and much later, over 700 hours of parliamentary time later, bill was to abolish fox hunting with hounds, it should come as no surprise to those of us who keep an eye on such infringements of our chosen leisure time that the same party would now be involved in using the Olympic Games to take another stab at those whose interests they do not agree with so vehemently.

Of all the Olympic venues specifically constructed for the upcoming games there are only three that will not pass on a legacy. At this point I feel it only right to say that the beach volley ball to be held in horse guards will be removed but as a few hundred tons of sand laid on the floor was pretty much it, Mother Nature would have removed it by the end of the summer anyway. The remaining two sport groups of shooting and equestrianism will have no legacy for those who already partake in the sport or for those in the future who would like to. The government of the day refused to accept that the recognised centres for both of these sports should have received any of the monies available to upgrade and improve their existing facilities. Instead the government in its wisdom decided that a total for both sports in excess of £30,000,000, and climbing, be spent to construct facilities and courses, then when the games were over remove all trace that either event ever took place. The reasoning for this decision was that both national centres were too far from the centre of the games, London. Despite this, football (soccer for our American readers) and sailing to name but two will cover the length of the land from Hampden Park in Scotland to Weymouth in the West Country.

A spokesman for the Olympic committee said that the legacy while not in a tangible form would be that both the shooting sports and equestrianism would benefit from greater television coverage than they would ordinarily receive. This may well be true for our equine friends who are only ever seen running around a race course somewhere. But given the coverage that the shooting sports received at the last Commonwealth games where the BBC had the rights; there was no coverage on terrestrial television, all though there was some on Sky. The BBC on its news channels only showed the shooting medallists after ten o'clock at night at the end of its news bulletin which meant it was closer to 10:30. The BBC web site had more coverage but would remove the video after 24 hours. This issue was raised at the time and the reasoning was that the space on both media formats was required for more main stream and popular events. Given that the current head of the BBC, to the best of my knowledge, is the same individual given the position by the government that undertook much of the administration and decision making for the preceding, I have little doubt that the 2012 Olympic Games coverage will continue in a similar vein leaving many shooters and horse riders out in the cold.

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