Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Peking ducks.

I was rather amused to read that Chinese Officials have described as ‘Vile’ the actions of the pro-Tibet campaigners seen valiantly in action during the Peking Olympics Torch relay in London and Paris.

Oh and I did mean to type Peking. I very much doubt if Paris has won the 2012 games we would all be referring to ‘Pareeeeee 2012’, so I don’t see why we should seem obliged to change the English pronunciation of China’s capital either.

Vile is having to watch the Chinese paramilitary police sent in the guise of the ‘Sacred Flame Protection Unit’ barging and bullying their way through the streets of London. Who let these people in? I have also heard several Chinese commentators complain that the campaigners have shown ‘bad manners’ and been ‘rude and disrespectful’. In comparison to what my friends?

Vileness, brutality and vicious thuggery are what these people have been seeking to highlight.

I do like sport, lots of it (even on the days when the results don’t go the way you want – sigh) but the Olympics seems now to have sport as only one of several objectives. The whole event has turned into a jamboree of corporate sponsorship. Although we are led to believe that sport and politics shouldn’t mix the IOC has ensured that it is politics of the highest (or perhaps lowest) order, the votes and the cash and the junkets all going hand in hand.

The whole thing makes the Premier League and the Indian Cricket Premier League look positively Corinthian in their values. It’s a waste of time and money that could be better expended on improving the human condition in a tangible and more permanent way. What real long term benefit is there in a two week festival so we can see whose steroids are working the best and leaving behind it only the rotting hulks of oversized stadia, gathering moss and cracks as its Ozymandian legacy.

World championships and Cups should be sufficient to prove who can go furthest, highest and fastest. You don’t need to bleed cities dry when many facilities already exist or are adaptable.

You don’t need to clear street vendors off the streets. You don’t need to start rounding up dissidents so no-one interrupts the row of the nodding smiling thousands dragooned into putting on a show for the world.

I’m not going to change anything but I’m not going to watch it. I’m not going to buy the sponsors products.

Not that there will be of course but I’d love it if there were a mass boycott. If the governments of Cuba, Venezuela, the Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma (and representatives of any other petty tyranny you can bring to mind) still want to send their athletes along then good luck to them. In between races they can all sit down together on the grass and tell sad stories about revolutionary struggles. And then they wouldn’t come to London so we wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of allowing ‘Sacred Athlete Protection Units’ to beat up anyone who looked at their charges in a ‘funny way’.

But even better there still may be time for the Parisians to take up the mantle from London if they want to. The money already stolen from local and junior level sport could be returned to these areas where it could make a real and lasting difference.

I'm sure for a few youngsters inspiration might be drawn from watching sporting excellence on television. But it may serve them better to have more facilities to enable them to spend that time participating themselves.

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