Petty jobsworths manage to confuse an entire event

The post which was going up has been ditched because of something truly bizarre I’ve just had the misfortune to witness.

We’ve all seen the jobsworthery of petty officials and their rules, most famously mentioned by Usain Bolt and these international athletes must be just dying to get the events over, the parties done and get the hell out of this petty, fascistic Britain.  Such a great shame, such an embarrassment to this nation.

Here’s how it went.

The high-jumping women were all highjumping and most got through the height of 1:93.   That apparently freaked the officials who weren’t counting on so many getting through.  Their idea was that at least some would drop away, this was how they had it planned, this rebellion in many jumping higher than expected was an anomaly which needed to be remedied.

So this little man you see in the pictures [note his demographic], replete with clipboard and pen, called all the women over and started explaining …

… in English …

… to mainly non-English-speaking women …

… that too many had got through.

He wanted to know who’d like to pass and wanted to write it on his clipboard, so that the officials could clear the highjump area of women.   There were apparently too many highjumpers milling around for the officials to be comfortable.   Now the fact that in any other area of the world, the competitors manage without any problem to be in the highjump area, to one side, watching their rivals, did not occur to the British officials.

They needed this thing regulated and under control, so that everyone’s enjoyment could be enhanced.  It’s not just you who are important, highjumpers – it’s “Everyone” who must be considered.   The girls just looked at one another – the English speakers were flabbergasted, the others were bewildered but knew something disastrous had happened and this added to their own natural nervousness at this stage of the campaign.

One middle-eastern lady tried pointing out to him her name on a second sheet on his clipboard and his response was to ask, again in English: “Do you want to pass or jump on this next jump?”

They were just looking at him so his response was to repeat it in English. They just looked at one another and the American girl laughed.   How on earth can you know if you “intend” to pass or not unless you’re watching your own defaulting and see what the rest of the women are doing?   The whole point is strategy.   To do that, you must be in the area, observing the competitors.

Some woman official came over and he said, “All right, you all go with her and listen to her.” It was on the Beeb broadcast just now. So they all went with her and she said exactly the same thing.   So they were standing around, bewildered and some came back to the little jobsworth.


Now at this point, let’s look at the key factors:

1.  These re international athletes, speaking different languages;
2.  They are not children, to be herded into an area to lectured;
3. You don’t address them in English and then, when they fail to understand fully, you harangue them in English;
4. Nor do you think they’re dumb foreigners and in your most tolerant manner possible – dear oh dear – put your hand on your chest and patronize them by speaking English more slowly, as if to idiots.


The American said: “So what you’re saying is that we all have to either pass together or jump together?”

He said:, clipboard being wielded: “I just want to know if you’ll pass or jump.”

“Well, if we pass, can we stay over there?”


“Can we recall that pass?”

“No, once you pass, you pass.”

“But that’s bizarre,” said the German, “we always have the choice whether to jump or not.”

“Look,” he said, a sympathetic smile on his face. “I just want to write down here whether you’re passing or jumping.”

Not a clue the way highjump actually works.  One girl actually tries to explain to him:

He’s obviously losing it and the American tries to get it crystal clear from him but he’s done explaining now so she has to ask him specific questions.   He repeats that no one can stay over at the highjump.

“But we’re all through to the final – we’re all finalists,” explains the American, then has to try to explain to her friends/rivals what is going on.

The French girl comes up to him and tries to deal with him one to one, to make some sense of it.  She uses what English she has.  He goes back to his smiling, hand on heart mode and repeats that he wants to know if she is passing or jumping.

The American tries to explain that they need to be over there, that it is part of highjump for anyone who gets through to watch the others and decide whether to pass or jump, given that each jumper only has three shots and can transfer that third shot to a higher height.

He’s not interested.  “Look, all I want to know is -”

“Well, if we all agree to pass, can we all go for the next height?”

“I don’t know about that.  Yes.  All I want to know is … look, do you want to pass … or do you want to jump?”

She doesn’t answer but tries to explain to the non-English-speaking women.   He’s had enough of it and decides to individualize himself, taking his clipboard and turning to each woman in turn.  He looks at the French woman and asks: “Do you want to jump?  Do you want to pass then?”

She doesn’t reply so he turns to the Turkish girl and mindful that he has just dealt with a Frenchwoman, he says to the Turk: “Bonjour.”  He gets nowhere and turns to another.  “Do you want to pass?”

She’s almost crying and it’s not too inventive to describe her reaction as howling: “I don’t know!  I don’t know!”

“Look,” he puts on his air of great condescension again, “I just want to know if …”   Now he has to keep asking because that’s his job, innit, and it’s more than his job’s worth to do any differently.   Thinking that maybe something might be wrong here doesn’t cross his little mind.

2:18:42 of the vid and the Beeb commentator comes into it, explaining that the official is trying toi persuade the women to all pass. The American takes the jobsworth on.  “I hear what you’re saying but that’s just not fair.”

Remember that this is in the middle of the jumping competition, not before it.

And whatever you might think of certain American ethnicities and their entitlement, she’s right on this one.   They have to be over there to watch what’s going on, not herded over into some holding yard for highjumpers, away from the action and not getting in the way.

One of the women now goes off [in the background] and puts face to palm:

That man, having created an international incident over nothing, now forces a “pass” out of every woman and one by one they drift away.  The German girl is the last one left and she just stands there, looking at him.  The Beeb commentator calls it a “contretemps” and the jobsworth as a “shop steward”.

And we wish to be taken seriously in the world.

Now the German, who is called Friedrich, goes for the 196cm but all the other ladies had said they’d pass, pressganged into it by the jobsworth.  Many of the girls said yes, believing that all the girls had said yes – the question of English language again.

Friedrich, very upset and jumping alone, with all the other women herded away, fluffs her attempt of course and it’s a bad scene all round.   I’m appalled at this interference and pressure of offiicialdom, way outside their brief and the way they’re upsetting all the competitors.

Will the press run this tonight or will it ignore it all, in the interests of presenting these games as “well run”?

11 comments for “Petty jobsworths manage to confuse an entire event

  1. August 9, 2012 at 13:16

    Around the 2 hour mark in this video –

  2. Chuckles
    August 9, 2012 at 13:48

    I’m sure you know my feelings about bureaucrats of any flavour by now, but I’m interested to know whether our box-ticker is an IOC or local official, and from whence the authority to do anything at all is derived?

    In short, if all the athletes had said ‘No. Get stitched, go away.’ which of the Gods would have been angered, and rained down opprobrium, hand-wipes, fresh towellettes, and small presentation posies.

  3. August 9, 2012 at 14:28

    Oh, the shame 🙁

  4. Sniper
    August 9, 2012 at 14:38

    Thank God! I was beginning to lose faith in our ability to make a weapons-grade, industrial strength fuck-up out of nothing.

    However, I would deduct marks for the lack of a Hi-Viz jacket; just poor preparation that.

  5. August 9, 2012 at 15:07

    “Such a great shame, such an embarrassment to this nation.”

    It is. I’m not a fan of the Olympics, but this shouldn’t happen.

  6. August 9, 2012 at 16:52

    There’s a point in the vid when the American woman is explaining it, plus the Beeb. Apparently there were two heats and 14 only were to go through. Why 14 when it’s not a case of lanes is another question.

    All those women jumped 193. Apparently though, because 7 from the other heat had already been selected [why?], one of these had to drop out. The only way they could resolve the issue of their own making was to force all girls except this German to pass.

    From what I can gather, this girl was then made to try for a higher jump in order to qualify and of course, upset as she was by this whole thing, she fluffed it. It was the American girl who said it was unfair, one of the Nordic girls said it was completely wrong and that pic where one goes away and puts her face in her hands – that’s the German girl on learning this.

    As Sniper said:

    a weapons-grade, industrial strength fuck-up out of nothing

  7. haiku
    August 9, 2012 at 18:35

    After (quite frankly) not believing your story – NOBODY is capable of being that asinine – it struck me that the Olympics is of course the world’s biggest collection of otherwise totally insignificant petty nothings functioning as officialdom – and is therefore capable of most anything.

    As the saga of the rythmic gymnastics – amongst others – proves.

    Unfortuntely these things happen when you reach above yourself.

  8. August 9, 2012 at 18:45

    Haiku, I do get the tongue-in-cheek but will still run what I did at OoL. I went back through the whole vid and this was what happened:


    It’s worse than I thought. That’s an English voice as well, by the way. OK, he demands from the German girl, pen in hand, waiting to write her response on the clipboard, that effing clipboard: “Are you going to pass or not?” He hasn’t explained it to any of them properly and they’re bewildered – look for yourself.

    Then get this, he pressures the German girls: “Yes or no?!” How TF can she answer that when she doesn’t know what’s going on?

    2:05:57 – he’s now telling the Turkish girl, who has just checked her name on the clipboard is there: “You want to jump or pass?” She can’t speak English and moves her hands in a sideways manner to mean – end of my jump? He does not explain but just repeats his demand.

    German girl says: “But we;re all in the final.”

    He says: “I’m not saying that. All I’m asking is do you want to pass or jump?” Not only is he smug but he has upset all the girls now, they turn one way, then the other, nonplussed. This is a disgrace.

    Two girls answer: “It depends.” Of course it effing depends – even I know that. The American adds: “I’m not going to say now …” She then turns away, laughing, which he misinterprets and asks: “All I need for you to say now is if you’re going to pass or jump.” He hasn’t taken onboard one effing thing the girls have said.

    Now I’m boiling over.

    One girl says it’s absurd. The American says, rightly: “What – other people will jump and I must pass?”

    Now the girls are laughing at the absurdity and the jobsworth [2:06:54] completely misreads their laughter and [look for yourself] now grins a grin I wish he wouldn’t and asks: “Are you jumping or passing?”

    Shoot me now.

    The girls speak together: “Are we all passing? OK? OK?” They’re all agreed. America asks: “Can we recall our pass if we need to jump?”

    “No,” he laughs, all very good-natured of him. The girls are amazed. One asks if they can sit over there in the centre [to see what happens]. Because it does depend, in high jump, on what the others do.

    “No, no,” he laughs.

    French girl passes. He writes it down and then turns to the Turkish girl and demands: “Bonjour – jump or pass?” The fact that she is Turkish cuts no ice with the d**k.

    She explains: “I speak English a little.”

    Guess what his reaction is? Yup.

    She cries: “I don’t know.” She is not aware of what the hell is happening and he hasn’t explained it in her language with interpreter, nor given her any chance to have an interpreter.

    This is so outrageous, quite aside from the fact that he should not be accosting these girls in any way. It needs to be explained to the team leader or official from the countries concerned. Forced passing is not something any of them have met before.

    I’m now seriously shocked. This is one of the most wrong things I’ve ever seen.


    Now, get this – the girls decide that if they all pass, they can save themselves for the next round. So all girls there say to each other: “OK, pass.” The jobsworth, the instant he has their consent, scribbles that down, smiling.

    Please – just look at him with his clipboard at 2:07:52. I need a paper bag.

    Just watch the next 20 seconds in which he descends into bullying. He fails to write it when the German girls says pass so he says hold on and orders her to come back and asks the question again.

    She quietly says pass and walks away.

    Is there some way we can report this man?

    Turkish girl is now over with her coach, asking about it. German girl too. Hugs her.

    2:10:49 American girl comes over and he demands a decision: “I need a decision.” She asks the other girl what she did. The other girl is bewildered.

    2:11:04 He demands that she says it again: “I need you to say it again – loud.”

    Another American girls urges her: “Don’t say it.” General talk among the girls, some shrieking.

    He’s got what he wants and interprets the talk among them as everyone saying they’re passing. He runs away quickly.

    This is worse than when I first saw it.

    2:11:52 The girls are discussing it, worried. One girl doesn’t understand and remember all of this is in English. What the bunch who were accosted don’t know though is that the slimy little man has gone around to the other girls standing alone and browbeaten them – the non-English speaking girls. Some have not passed because they didn’t understand.

    Therefore they have an immediate advantage over those who did.

    2:12:10 You can hear his horrible voice calling out: “Ariane, Ariane?” That’s the German girl.

    American girls go to where the officials are sitting in the shade and demand an explanation. Can’t hear the response.

    2:13:04 Shot of girls together, including the Russian now. One girl asks did everyone pass? Another answers no, no. Confusion.

    Long pause in vid. Beeb’s commentator starts talking about how beautiful the sunshine is. This is actually a replay.

    The German girl finally gets the 193. So, there are 13 on 193. The officials say they’ll only take 12 to the final. Someone must go out. The German girl gets everyone to agree they’ll all pass, which means they’ll all go through but some didn’t say that and thus she must jump the 196 instead, which she fluffs.

    OK – think you’ve seen enough. The German girl seems more culpable second time around but still – that petty official is still way out of order.

  9. haiku
    August 9, 2012 at 19:15

    I watched the video.

    The participants are asked to make a decision based on insufficient data: certainly the implications are not spelt out.

    This to protect officialdom from their [officialdom’s] f**k-ups. To which officialdom will never admit.

    My suggestion would be to start by relieving officialdom of their Olympic wind-breakers and ID cards, then for the all on 193 to re-jump, starting in a couple of days time to allow nerves to settle.

    I would also suggest that the organisers – at minimum – employ polite English-speakers as officials …

  10. Moggsy
    August 10, 2012 at 07:10

    Personally If I were half of them I would lodge a protest. That was practically sabotage, Maybe it was sabotage. Thinking on it I would probably have told him “don’t be silly, go away, or I will complain about you”.

  11. August 10, 2012 at 07:45

    Haiku found these:

    1. 1120:

    ATHLETICS- Women’s high jump

    The high jump handbags have been put down – Friedrich fails with her third attempt at 1.96m, just clipping the bar with her heels. So she fails to reach the final.

    The 12 qualifiers include American indoor champion Chaunte Lowe and defending champion Tia Hellebaut of Belgium.

    2. 1110:

    ATHLETICS- Women’s high jump

    There’s a hoo-ha in the women’s high jump because 14 women have alll cleared the qualifying mark of 1.93m but only 12 are allowed to go through to the final.

    The judges look like they are being sticklers for the rules and want to eliminate the two jumpers who took most attempts to clear 1.93m including Ariane Friedrich of Germany.

    Friedrich is now taking on 1.96m, but she’s failed with her first two jumps.



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