08 August 2008

The curmudgeon's Olympics


The world will shortly simultaneously sit down to watch the same circus act together and feel the inner glow of connectedness. I can hardly wait. What am I to do between now and 10 pm here when the global telecast is scheduled to kick off?

I already feel a breathless anticipation for my pointless despair at the intergalactic disconnection between the hyperbole of the commentary and what the ceremony will actually be communicating. At least with the Eurovision Song Contest or America's Next SuperModel or the World Darts Tournament there is some refuge in unintended irony and self parody that permiates the execrable excess or frivolity of these events. Not the Olympics. We are exhorted to take this mush completely seriously and are hushed if we demur. Ughh!

I will watch some of it though. Initially mainly to see if any of the teams or athletes are brave and clever enough to outsmart statist officialdom and make an effective protest against China's repression. And later to have some currency in the schoolyard of polite discourse about our nation's competitive progress in the global battle.

The monumental hypocrisy and dishonesty of this orgy of nation state propaganda is however summed up by this, apparent apology issued by the US cycling team after being photographed arriving in Beijing with face masks on:

“The wearing of protective masks upon our arrival into Beijing was strictly
a precautionary measure we as athletes chose to take, and was in no way meant to serve as an environmental or political statement,” the athletes said. “We deeply
regret the nature of our choices. Our decision was not intended to insult BOCOG or countless others who have put forth a tremendous amount of effort to improve the air quality in Beijing.”

“Those athletes regret that action and have written an apology to BOCOG on their own behalf,” Scherr said. “They now realize and understand how their actions were perceived by the host nation and by the organizing committee.”

As if the sense of entitlement China has expressed about it's sensitivity to open discussion of Tibet or Muslim minorities or Falun Gong or the Church were not objectionable enough, the Chinese dictatorship has now been enabled by the BOCOG to compel young athletes honestly protecting their capacity to compete in an endurance sport, to humiliate themselves to the word to appease the sense of self worth of an authoritarian regime.
Which Maoist re-education text did they copy to compose this press release about what "they now realise and understand"? Do you laugh or cry? It seems that the Olympics is only serving to reinforce a contempt for freedom that the mono-focused glory seeking disciplinarians who pursue Olympic ideals seem to feel so comfortable with. Can this be a force for good in the world?

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