Why we aren’t looking forward to the Olympics

A few years ago, the UK celebrated the announcement that London would host the 2012 Olympics. A few negative comments followed shortly afterwards regarding the expense of such an undertaking – especially as the World Economy was suffering from what one could describe as a very bad case of hiccups – but generally we were all happy that we would be hosting an Olympic Games during our lifetimes. Little did we know that the wonderful success of winning the rights to host the games would actually cost us so much money!

Over the next couple of years, Lord Coe and his team did a quite amazing job. Despite the doom and gloom regarding the credit crunch, the UK was going to deliver the Olympic Games on time and within budget. Some people in the East End of London were understandably a little put out that they were being moved on but the area would benefit from some very significant investment – and London would proudly boast world leading sporting venues. All well and good, but lets not forget that this was all costing the London population in extra council tax.

As the project continued, the Organising Committee had one or two minor wobbles. Such as the ticketing fiasco. Well, I call it a fiasco, they secretly call it a huge success. The London Olympic Games is sold out. Even the most unpopular sports have sold out. There shouldn’t be any television images showing empty seating in any of the grandstands at any of the events. Of course, 99% of ticket buyers didn’t get the tickets they wanted. But the Games Organisers were happy – even when the re-sale system crashed on the first day due to the overwhelming number of people trying to offload their unwanted tickets.

Suddenly in mid 2010, Daytona received a colourful “newsletter” telling us the wonderful news that London and Surrey Roads would be the venue for the Olympic Road Racing. I happen to like cycling and road racing – the professional version that is. I abhor the cycling nazi’s on the roads around where I live who think all motorists should be shot (even though they are mostly motorists themselves 6 days a week). You would therefore think that I would be pleased to learn that the road races would be coming through Esher this Summer – and that I could line the route and cheer on the cyclists FOR FREE!

Unfortunately that is not the case. Instead, I have to work out how to make up for the fact that Daytona Sandown Park will have no public access from 6am until 7pm on three days this summer. Over a popular weekend in July and a Wednesday in August, we will have to close the venue. We will lose out on something like £40,000 of revenue.

There are no rights of appeal against this enforced closure. We have no opportunity to claim compensation from the Games Organisers. We have to either come up with a special event where our clients can camp at Sandown Park and race throughout the weekend – or we have to close. We are thinking about options for long endurance races and either telling drivers to get here for 5:45am or we have to invite drivers to camp at the racecourse over Friday or Saturday Night.

All other businesses within the circular route are similarly affected. If they had asked me, I would have suggested they use the opposing lanes on a dual carriageway route for the races so that the closed route didn’t circle major areas. Then all the people of Esher wouldn’t be effectively landlocked for 13 plus hours each day.

But they didn’t ask me… So whilst I hope that the Olympics are a glittering success, I shan’t be celebrating as the people who will be making a fortune out of the games do not have to pay compensation to those of us who are barred from getting on with commerce…

Jim Graham



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