Olympics, GPs and what is it all about anyway?

By | 6th July 2012

Olympics 2012Over the last 4 years we, as a nation, have become ever more Olympics obsessed.

My daily newspaper has been counting the days to go for over a year. Ticket sales have already eclipsed all previous Olympics.

It is difficult to believe that it will only be a couple of weeks in the summer when London and Weymouth become the centre of world attention. Almost in the blink of an eye it will be over. And we’ll all be wandering what it was all about.


I’ve already been caught up and carried along with the hype. We picked up our daughter from university at Plymouth on the very weekend that the Olympics hit the town. Over 40,000 people crowded onto the Hoe to celebrate … a flame. Lord knows what the hysteria will be like when the fireworks really start. But even though we waited an hour at the side of the road and in all honesty there wasn’t really an awful lot to see, it was still an experience I would not have missed.

I can’t help but feel that there is a parallel between general practice and the Olympics and it has to do with disasters. Historically whenever a new crisis emerges the government feels responsible in some way. Either for causing the crisis in which case blame has to be apportioned elsewhere or alternatively for solving it which usually results in making things even worse.


For example if there is a food scare such as salmonella in eggs invariably a minister will face a few questions as to why her department could have allowed such an appalling thing to happen. Rather than simply saying that such problems occur from time to time but the experts will simply deal with the problem they will make a statement to demonstrate that although there only expertise in the matter is the ability to appreciate a good scrambled egg and the talent to develop diarrhoea and vomiting like the rest of us, they do really understand the complexities of the situation.

Such comments invariably backfire. Why does the public and the media expect politicians, who are obviously quite bright, but whose academic talents may be limited to Aristotle and Plato, to be expert on everything from salmonella to Sadam to the Sudan. When their real responsibility is to simply run a good department and ensure that public money is well spent. I would much more respect a politician who admits their ignorance but reassures us that the appropriate expert is doing what matters.


Which brings me back to GPs because it is amazing how often a crisis occurs that when the politicians do share their wisdom with us, he / she invariably finishes with a quote that if they have any concerns then they should see their GP. It doesn’t matter whether it is an epidemic, a health scare or problems with extreme weather. It is assumed we will be able to fix the problem! But now it is the Olympics which is disaster obsessed.

Yes MinisterIf anything out of the ordinary occurs the media immediately theorises how this will adversely affect the olympics and asks what the government is doing to prevent such a disaster. It is only time before the minister is trotted out and we will once again find ourselves responsible for the smooth running of the Olympics!!

Celebrate excellence

What would be a good outcome for the Olympics ? – I would like to think that all countries of the world come together and celebrate excellence in a whole host of different sports. It used to be that the athletes we praised would hold down full time jobs and be purely amateur, gaining little from their endeavours but personal satisfaction. They represented a pinnacle to which we could all aspire. Invariably the heroes and heroines would not be household names and would fund their own expenses. Competing was everything winning was an occasional happy by-product.

British Olympics does not aspire to such goals, we now pay homage to celebrity athletes and winning is everything. We pour millions into sports so that the nation can feel proud of our achievements every 4 years, at a time when most of us are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Success will be predominantly measured in gold and to a lesser extent in silver and bronze. I’m not sure that anything else matters much anymore.

Somewhere along the line the world lost sight of the old Olympic ideal and we’re all a little poorer because of that.

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