Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Olympic quote of the day - 2

Jaques Rogge  this time - or, more correctly, Count Rogge - from the interview on yesterday's BBC News.

No, it's not the quote about being 'working class' - so obviously a slip in translation from a man giving an interview in a foreign language that it seems hardly worth commenting on (though some newspapers clearly think otherwise) - but a short phrase from later in the interview.

What makes this particular quote memorable is the momentary pause and the almost imperceptible shrug with which Rogge, challenged by the interviewer about the IOC's 'limos and five-star hotels', replies:

"We have to have accommodation."

in such a flat tone of stating-the-bleeding-obvious that it's clear he has no intention of even entertaining the idea that requisitioning an entire 5* hotel for the duration might be seen as a little over the top in today's climate of austerity.

Interestingly, this interview has prompted a flurry of complaints at the BBC's sports blog that David Bond, the BBC's sports editor, 'lacked respect', or was 'breathtakingly impertinent' in raising the subject as he did: some commentors claimed to have registered with the sole purpose of expressing their disapproval:

'If Mr Rogge and his organisation need a decent hotel for the duration of their stay then they should have it.'

(It all depends, I suppose what you mean by 'decent' - for most of us the term would not necessarily automatically imply the likes of the London Hilton)

'As 'guardians' of the Olympic Movement why shouldn't they stay in quality accommodation?'

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter - and I think it's a fair bet that the BBC bigwigs don't exactly rough it when they travel abroad for work either - it's interesting to see how this seems to have tapped into a rich reserve of enthusiasm for the games.

It's a stark contrast to the cynicism abounding in the blogosphere - at least in the vicinity of the Tavern (see Longrider Gildas and A K Haart for a sample). How ironic, that this event supposed to promote harmony and unity through sport has divided the nation so radically.


  1. It's not just the blogosphere - hardly any of my colleagues LAN to watch it, and greet any new setback or revelation with barely-concealed glee. Yet my brother & his partner are gung-ho to the point of both being official volunteers (her for the Olympics, he for the Paralympics).


    I've got lots of tv shows saved up to watch!

  2. I suppose people just enjoy watching sport and having their emotions tweaked in what they feel is a positive way. The Olympics provides both.

    The BBC is very good at gushing over these things too - it's seductive.

  3. From long observation at the chalkface, I reckon humans fall fairly neatly in to one of two categories - the 'herd animals' and the 'maverick'; often both types are found within the same family.

    Herd animals are easy to identify - watch for the children who look round to see what their classmates are doing before they commit themselves, or turn up to lessons with the same hairstyle or pencil-case as the rest of their 'friendship group' (ugh!).

    Naturally they enjoy team sports - mavericks can be good at sport too, but belonging to a team doesn't matter to them in the same way.

    No prizes for guessing what I am - one memorable school report read 'I am sorry to say she she is entirely devoid of team spirit' - and I suspect most of the bloggers whose work I enjoy would fit into the same category; you have to be outside the herd to cultivate a distinctive and objective voice.

    The Olympics may be polarising the population, showing up a division that largely escapes notice the rest of the time.