27 July 2011
When there are 365 days to go a big event, is that news? Every media outlet has gone bananas today over the fact that in precisely one year's time, Sir Ian Botham will light one of his farts* and get the Olympic flame burning in London, with the world watching.
It isn't news. It really isn't. Yet broadcasters have done entire shows from the half-finished venues and everyone has it in their bulletins and publications. Will the first anniversary of the Games in 2013 warrant a two paragraph piece? Of course it won't. Yet date-related news stories should surely only refer to the pertinent year or subsequent anniversaries, not in advance. Hell, the Olympic organisers even felt obliged to spend money - within a budget that's roughly £7bn more than initially estaimated - on commemorating the event with a ceremonial first view and use of the facilities, hence why Tom Daley had to dive into a brand new pool at 8 o'clock this morning for the benefit of cameras and microphones.
I felt obliged to mention it on the breakfast show I covered this morning and kept cocking it up because I didn't know how to phrase it. I've never had to explain that "today is the day when in a year's time something big will happen" before, and nor would I ever expect to.
For once, my grievance isn't around London-centricity, as it's evidently the only place in Britain that could ever host the Olympic Games. I adore Manchester, but when it went after the 2000 Games ("Oh Athens is a city of towering spires, oracles ancient and grand; it's the ancestral home of the Acropolis, the birthplace of sport and of culture and art; but it's not half as handy for Salford") it was a joke bid, simply because no Olympic committee - straight or corrupt - would ever have given its signature event to a country's third city. In fact, unlike many, I'm all for the Olympics here, despite it going over budget and a sense of dread over what right-on crap will be depicted as typically British in the opening ceremony. Once the Games are underway, I'll watch much of it.
But until they actually begin, the only news story related to it will concern the progress of the competitors and the development of the venues. Not a date on the calendar that everyone knew was coming anyway.
The Paralympics, by the way, begin on August 29th 2012. Let's see if everyone goes bonkers when the equivalent date this year reaches us in just over a month.
*might be Sir Steve Redgrave, really (but not lighting one of his farts)...