Now that the medals have long been awarded, the plaudits made and the ceremonies completed, the final Olympic and Paralympic contest is underway, notes Simon Barrow. Who will claim political gold in the much-publicized Games ‘legacy’ race?
'Honour' is both an abstract noun and a verb. These characteristics have become somewhat confused as sacked government ministers are rewarded and Olympic and Paralympic athletes feted for the achievements which have delighted and inspired so many over the last few weeks.
“A millionaire with a private cinematograph, all the necessary props and a troupe of intelligent actors could, if he wished, make practically all of his inner life known. He could explain the real reasons of his actions instead of telling rationalised lies, point out the things an ordinary man has to keep locked up because there are no words to express them. In general, he could make other people understand him.” So wrote George Orwell in his 1940 essay 'New Words'.
Something unlooked for has happened over the last two weeks. Many of us have been turned from Olympic scepticism towards – if not an entirely uncritical enthusiasm – a frame of mind which acknowledges it has caught a glimpse of the kind of society which we could be, and has taken inspiration from it.
Halfway through the Olympic Opening Ceremony, Paul Mason, Economics Editor of the BBC’s Newsnight tweeted, ‘Entire ceremony has echoes of catholic priesthood who taught Danny (and me) - rerum novarum etc’. I was glad when I read this, as I was beginning to think I’d been imagining it.