|Albertville '92 Opening|
While that particular circus plays out, we also read of American and Australian athletes being held captive without food or drink for over four hours. No, not due to a security problem, but by a confused bus driver experiencing his first day on the job in a city with which he lacked familiarity: London.
If that seems far fetched to you, it should not. I vividly recall the early days of the Olympics around Albertville, France, when our group tried to travel by hired bus from Courcheval to Meribel. As the crow flies or skiers ski, this would have been about 6km, but as the bus lurched to and fro on steep, icy Alpine hills, it became perhaps four times as long. The driver took one wrong turn after another, and then needed to back down the steep inclines and somehow make hairpin turns with that fifty-foot long toboggan on wheels. In reverse.
Anyone familiar with how the Olympics are organized, financed, operated, and then quickly abandoned can tell you that the stories coming out of London are average stuff. Boosters from Salt Lake City to Athens get the bright idea that the Games could be a boon to the local economy; unsuspecting citizens think it's a far-fetched idea and pay little attention; soon, politicians, boosters and unions see the possibilities of big payoffs; by some miracle and more "favors" somehow the effort wins Olympic Committee approval; the banks with no skin in the Games line-up to organize the debt load.
Then, the fun begins until the bill comes due for taxpayers. Oh well.
|Atlanta '96, Ali|
What about Athens? Are you kidding? Holy Moussaka!
But don't lose heart; all of this junk fades into the background when the athletes from all the nations march into he stadiums for the Opening Ceremonies; and a small jeune fille rises up from the ground on a pedestal, higher and higher singing La Marseillaise; the archer shoots his flaming arrow to light the torch; the aged and shaking gold medal winning boxer climbs the many steps to do the same.
Anyone who has been there** will tell you, these are some of the finest human moments you will ever experience. Trust me, every one is thinking: damn the cost and corruption.
And we must keep in mind that journalists are the natural enemies of the Olympic machine, which is so inherently dependent on the co-conspiring machines of politics and finance. It is the media's job to point out everyone's shortcomings (except its own), especially politicians, financiers, and giddy local boosters.
|Opening Ceremony Box, Sydney '00|
The sooner the athletes enter and silence everyone else, the better for all of us.
* Friday, July 27
** The author attended Opening Ceremonies at Albertville & Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Sydney in 2000.