In London, there are going to be plenty of attempts to emulate Chinese methods. There will be pushy policemen, overzealous anti-terrorist squads and ludicrous attempts to protect the rights of the corporations that sponsor the Games. There have already been clampdowns on café owners who decorate shop windows with five bagels, and butchers who do the same thing with sausages. Apparently – can it really be true? – you aren’t meant to link an article to the official Olympics website unless you have nice things to say about the Games. Meanwhile, known graffiti artists have not only been ordered to stay away from the Olympic Park, they have been forbidden to possess spray paint and markers between now and November.
But at least in London, one is still allowed to complain about these things, to talk about them and to write about them. I know about all of these incidents, in fact, because I read about them in the Spectator (whose cover showed an athlete being strangled by the Olympic rings), in the Guardian (which investigated the graffiti story) and on a blog published by Index on Censorship (as well as on another site where someone gleefully wrote obscene things about the Olympics and linked them to the official website, just to see what would happen).