Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics 11 Billion Translation Farce - Arabic Is In Gibberish.

Another day, another Olympic calamity. Now it emerges that a train company has printed a poster featuring information about security during the Olympics in English and seven other languages. Unfortunately it turns out that the Arabic section is 'gibberish'.

So what's going on, and just how much should we be worried about the Olympics turning into an incredibly expensive farce?

The poster shame

The poster in question was produced by First Capital Connect, which sent it to 13 stations. The company swears that it used a 'professional translator', but that the company that made the poster substituted one font for another, so it no longer made sense

The Council for Arab-British Understanding told the BBC that the Arabic lettering was 'ridiculous' and unreadable. It also said that studying the language for just one week would have taught a translator the basic rules and they would have realised that letters which aren't joined up and are printed back-to-front are not going to read well.

It is yet another nail in the coffin for any hope that the Olympics would reveal Britain as a world-class country capable of holding a summer picnic - let alone a global sports competition.

Endless farce

Clearly the major damage has been caused by the security farce which has now seen 3,500 troops called up to provide security and another 1,200 on stand-by, as G4S admitted it had fallen far short of its target for security officers and was now conducting a desperate hunt for bored students to take up the post. This will be a very visual sign of the failures of the company and of the organising committee and the government which were supposed to be working with them.

Then there are the much-criticised Olympic Lanes on the roads around London, which have caused havoc on the M4 and have created a situation on some roads where drivers either have to drive in a bus lane or an Olympic lane - both of which will see them fined £130. Add in the four hour tour of London for the athletes hampered by a driver who can't use a sat nav, and you have a ridiculous farce before the doors even open.

And don't even mention the failure to sell out the venues - or even give away tickets for some of the GB women's team football games. The top tier of the stadia are facing closure because we cannot summon enough enthusiasm for what is supposed to be our national sport.

More to come

Anyone who has ever been to London will be able to do the maths and come to the conclusion that anyone trying to get to the games will either get trapped in overcrowding on public transport or lost on the roads. They will then show up stressed and late, to have their food and drink confiscated by a military serviceman and a massive queue which risks them missing the sport they have come to see. They can then spend £50 on lunch while they contemplate the hell of doing it all again in the other direction.

Ruinous disaster

All of this would be bad enough if we were running the austerity Olympics on a shoestring, but these games are record-breakingly expensive. The original budget of money to come from the taxpayer was £2.4 billion, but in 2007 the government bit the bullet and raised it to £9.3 billion. This included £5.3 billion for building the venues and infrastructure and £600 million for security. The latest news is that the event is running £2 billion over budget - so the total taxpayer cost of the event is an astonishing £11 billion.