Ok, I’m going to use the ‘O’ word – a dangerous undertaking if guidelines being circulated to Oxford businesses about the enigmatically named ‘torch-relay event’ are to be believed.

Ok, I’m going to use the ‘O’ word – a dangerous undertaking if guidelines being circulated to Oxford businesses about the enigmatically named ‘torch-relay event’ are to be believed.

It seems the very mention of the word Olympics could earn the wrath of the gods, without written consent from Zeus himself.

I appreciate the official sponsors need to have their position protected, even if they are mostly non-UK businesses, after all it’s well known that burgers, chocolate bars and bottles of fizzy pop are essential to bringing an athlete to the peak of physical perfection.

But the Games are a once-in-a-lifetime experience that most of us genuinely want to celebrate. Surely promotions themed around such an historic event should be encouraged, rather than viewed though the dusty prism of intellectual property rights.

As we tiptoe around this semantic minefield, we’re told to look forward to a welcome increase in business generated from an influx of visitors.

But with many retailers now having a global reach, I’m struggling to understand what would make them spend in a London branch of their favourite store rather than one back home. As the internet now gives even the smallest retailer a worldwide audience, it seems even less likely.

It’s a common misconception that hosting a special event will boost local trade. I have to say from experience that, by and large, they’re a bit of a nuisance. The idea that someone will come to see a demonstration of Bolivian elbow juggling and then feel irresistibly drawn to an orgy of consumerism is usually misguided, and the associated disruption surrounding the event will often outweigh any gains.

The Olympics seem to be no exception to this rule with scare stories about transport chaos now a daily event.

I’d say LOCOG is in serious danger of crushing any enthusiasm from both businesses and visitors even before the opening ceremony. Let’s hope, with so much at stake, we’re not going to see them make an Olympic sport out of shooting us all in the foot.

  • Ian Middleton, Managing director and co-founder, Argenteus