At the time of writing this there are apparently 79 days, 11 hours, 50 minutes and 37 seconds left until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. I'm aware of this not because, like some fat Texan kid in a Burger King queue, I am overheating at the prospect of 27th July arriving. I really couldn’t care less. I Googled it and found a load of websites with digital countdown clocks. The one I chose to peruse is www.theolympicgamescountdown.com , it tells us, "We are now waiting for the next summer competitions in the capital of the UK in 2012 (Cannot be written due to legal threats)."
At first I thought the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games might have an elaborate plan to keep the name of the city secret so some of the big foreign hopes get confused, don't make it and we win more medals, or, in case Al Qaeda pitches up in his exploding underpants and ruins the fun for everyone.
More likely, it's because there is an official site, http://www.london2012.com and London 2012 is now an official brand, and with official branding comes official merchandise and with official merchandise comes official overpricing.
It seems if you put the word official in front of anything then you can get away with charging almost any price these days. Just look at the official logo. Take a look at the official online London 2012 shop, http://shop.london2012.com where a very fetching London 2012 Union Jack gym sack will cost you £8. It’s sold as a ‘lightweight bag with multiple uses – from a gym bag to a backpack – and the London 2012 logo in Union Jack colours make it a fun keepsake for the future’.
A very resonable price indeed but what it fails to say is that it’s really a piece of canvas and a piece of string which are normally given away free by most High Street retailers with every new pair of trainers. However, if you fancy that then you might also go for an official keyring at £12, or a pair of the official Team GB replica kit men's swimming trunks for £29.
The UK Tourism Insight website http://www.insights.org.uk/default.aspx claims that the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games are forecast to generate tourism gains totalling £2.34bn (at 2006 prices) over the period 2007-2017 for the UK as a whole, of which £1.85bn will benefit London (source: Oxford Economics The Value of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to UK Tourism). No wonder Seb Coe abandoned his political career.
And, according to Neilsen Media Research, 4.7 billion viewers worldwide (approximately 70% of the global population) viewed some of the 5,000 hours of television broadcast coverage of the Beijing Games and London 2012 is expected to attract a global TV audience of over 4 billion spectators.
Must just be me then.