Aug 092008

By any other definition, the four-yearly global contest in sport can only be described as adversarial battle between nation-states, some of whom would dearly love to have at each other with real weapons of destruction.

I’m aging, and I’m jaundiced, and I’m definitely NOT a sports fanatic. If it doesn’t have four wheels, travels quickly and uses an internal combustion engine as the motive force, then I’m not likely to be overly interested. I view the quadrennial gathering of sporting nations as a commercial grab fest by media interests, politicians, industry and associated commercial entities at the expense and gullibility of those vacant enough to be wooed by the glitz, glamour and hype. Good for the sporting types and athletes, at least the successful athletes, because they wind up attracting commercial endorsements as a trade-off for their willingness to prostitute themselves to their sporting interests. Those who don’t grab gold …. well, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I suppose.

When the olympic games were first created, they were an event structured on war, or rather, a perceived need to avoid it in favour of an adversarial sporting contest between aggressor city states, which had heavy religious overtones in the honouring of dead heroes and as a means of restricting the carriage of weapons or insinuation of warriors into the sacred Olympia precinct. Fertility rites also played an enormous part, which seems to have carried over to modern times if one pays any attention to the MSM penchant for focussing on "Hottest Women of the Games". Cute, but yet again, commercialistic. Nothing much has changed between ancient times and modern day, save for the commerce flow and high-level of technology on display. The aggression between nation states continues, albeit covertly in a sporting guise, the politicans continue to make good on any opportunity to promote their own ideology, athletes still cheat but at least don’t risk execution. Some might say a lifetime ban is akin to having one’s head lopped off, but if one dances, then one must pay the piper.

The little I did see of the Beijing opening ceremony last night – there was nothing else on the box and I cannot abide stony silence – was startlingly expansive in the use of technology at the highest levels. Surely a message to the rest of the so-called developed world that China was right there with them in her use of the very latest computerised and industrialised developments. I was especially taken with the giant LCD screen which scrolled across the floor of the Bird’s Nest Stadium, with dancers scribing patterns across it as they moved. The ceremony was all about China, and rightly so. Always technologically in advance of the western world, and clearly so today. I found myself wondering at the excuse China uses to avoid meeting the other industrialised nations on the climate change stage, that she isn’t as advanced as the rest of the world. I also found myself chuckling sardonically at the profligate use of fireworks – something which is inherently Chinese – in light of the terrible atmospheric conditions China’s industrialisation has presented her people with. If clear skies were sought for the next 14 days, any hopes for same must surely have been dashed in the smoke from the tonnes of black powder smoke released into the Beijing skies last night.

Fourteen days of sporting hoop-lah, political statements, human rights suppression undoubtedly, and at the end of it all the world will go back to exactly what it was before 8 August 2008. Nothing will change, an inordinate and obscene amount of money will have been expended, commercial interests will have expanded by even greater amounts and individuals, in the main, will come away with warm inner glows but a knowledge that the roller-coaster has dropped them off and rocketed onwards. Bit like taking a shot of well aged scotch on an empty stomach. Warms the cockles, lightens the mood but still leaves one wanting something just a little more sustaining, please.

If you enjoy the hoop-lah, then good luck to you, but for mine, it’s 14 days with one less free-to-air television station and even less palatable viewing entertainment than usual.

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