Monday, August 06, 2007

Down with the Olympics!

Who besides me hates the Olympic games? Every two years my senses and sensibilities are assaulted by an eruption of national chauvinist excess dressed up as a summer or winter sports competition. The national medal count bug not only infects the totalitarian steroid-enhanced, chromosome-augmented and blood-enriched athletic nations like the DDR, Bulgaria, the USSR and the PRC, but also the democratic steroid-enhanced, chromosome-augmented and blood-enriched athletic nations like the USA. My exposure to the absurdity of the Olympics came with the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I lived in Belgium at the time, and read the French weekly Paris Match on a regular basis. For a while it looked as though France would not win a single gold medal in the Tokyo Games. Sack cloth and ashes all over Paris Match. Then horse power came to the rescue: Pierre Jonquères d'Oriola won a gold medal in the individual showjumping event. Paris Match went nuts and devoted half of an issue to d'Oriola and his blooming horse, Lutteur B (which was Anglo-Norman and therefore not even French!). Sad, sad, sad. I was in the process of moving back to the USA in 1984 when I was exposed to the full chauvinistic hype and dementia of the Los Angeles games. By the time Atlanta rolled around i 1996, I was fortunate to be living in London, far enough from the madding crowd not to get another case of the Olympic hives. Much to my chagrin, London has 'won' the right to stage the 2012 Summer Olympics. At least the odds are low that British athletes will win more than a few medals (and most of those in strange sports nobody else competes in). There should therefore not be too many medal-induced jingoistic eruptions. Huge amounts of money will be wasted on sports facilities that will be underutilized as soon as the games are over. Even larger amounts of money will be wasted on inappropriate infrastructure. Not all hope is lost, however. There is a chance that the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics could a debacle on a scale sufficient to kill off the Olympics for another millennium and a half. Just imagine the scene. Every free-Tibet NGO, every save-the-Uigur activist, remember-Tiananmen-Square militant, Falun Gong would-be martyr, activist-against-Chinese-neo-colonialism-in-Africa and devotee of environmental sustainability will be converging on and congregating in Beijing. If the authorities let them do their thing, the domestic political consequences could be spectacular (and the Games could be seriously disrupted). If the authorities use Tiananmen-square lite tactics, there could be walk-outs from the Games. There is hope for those who hate the Games.

1 comment:

Ivan Kitov said...

I'd like to join your club. As a fee I'd like to suggest to extend the set of items which excellently fit your post. I made a thought experiment and replaced words related to sport to terms related to economics, politics, arts, etc.

It fits. I found no change of meaning.