It's 100 days to go until the Olympics – apart from ticketing fiascos and a lot of interesting Channel 4 documentaries – my main reflection on the build-up to the Olympics is that it has been very very British.
Moving back to the UK a year ago I was very excited about a few things -the massive culinary options available in London, going to wonderful museums, and the Olympics being the top of the list. The move to London (after 6 years living overseas) was eased by the amazing multi-culturalism of the city and the melting pot feeling you get when walking around, eating out or going out to the shops. However, the build-up to the Olympics has so far, highlighted all of the less open characteristics of the Olympics and Britain.
Over the past few months, the government, the Royal family and all of the advertising around the Olympics have been pushing Britain, Pride in Britain, British flags, get behind ‘our’ guys and the wonders of Britain. We will show the world all that is great about British culture. For me, this is the wrong way of thinking.
Surely the main benefit of hosting athletes from over 100 countries is not in the promotion of our culture to those visitors, but the massive opportunity we have to learn about the other 100+ countries. The way this should be promoted is that this is London’s and the UK’s chance to learn about other cultures, being bought to us, rather than our chance to teach them.
The summer of 2012 – where open mindedness should happen.
You can ‘get behind’ our athletes, of course. But the wonderful thing about the Olympics is the level playing field of sport. The fact that the stars will be from small Caribbean islands, mountainous east Africa, Russia, Asia, South America – athletes will win because of talent and hard work and the Olympics is their open opportunity. The Olympics aren’t about how great the host country is, but about how the world is a wonderful place, full of different people good at different things, from different cultures that we can all learn from. London is a great city for this, because it can showcase so much that is great about the world coming together. The key piece of information for me that should be promoted is that every country competing in the Olympics has a resident in London. That is great!
All the British flags, and the insistence of promoting Britain (and the main massive corporate sponsors) above anything else, seems to me to be a confused interpretation of the Olympic spirit – the Olympics is not about distinguishing between us and them, our greatness your weakness.
To me the Olympics seem less and less about the underdog, the small players, choice and democracy and more about the promotion of confused messages of corporate culture, big companies, and an opportunity for the tourist board of countries rich enough to host the games to promote themselves. Let’s have more about the greatness of the world in the last 100 days before the games, and really make this summer 'the summer of open mindedness!'
One place this summer where we will be celebrating the world, a level playing field and open mindedness is at Danaqa – we work in 8 different developing countries from around the world and exclusively with small women’s led businesses