All Olympics Are Local


I’m not watching the Olympics.

But, why not?  Since I was a child, I’ve loved the Olympics — and this year, nuthin’.  I mean I can’t even seem to bring myself to watch hot girls from my country dive, for heaven’s sake.  So what happened?

Well, the first thing that happened is that residents of Vancouver, myself included, voted “yes” to hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics — and that may have been a mistake.  I almost voted “no”, to tell you the truth;  and in the end it was only the knowledge that our Provincial politicians were going to fuck this city up out of all recognition anyway, that softened my stance.  I figured, if the Olympics are just an excuse to wreck the joint anyway, then it’s not like they’re the only excuse the powers-that-be will ever find…and so maybe we could get a goddamn safe highway to Whistler out of it at least, ya think?  Or maybe some kid in PoCo who wants to be a speed-skater could have a proper oval within a thousand miles of his home for once, to train on.

Of course I didn’t, for some reason, properly anticipate the terrible air of Olympics boosterism that would result from that “yes” vote — so much mind pollution!  But I could almost live with that anyway, to tell you the truth.  It’s something else — something only related to the mind pollution and the boosterism — that’s really turned me sour.  And it’s not quite China that’s done it, although China is surely the engine that’s driving the nausea along…rather it’s a very specific and noxious kind of politicization of the Olympics,  as a knock-on of the China situation, that’s kind of made me wish all Olympics everywhere would just plain piss off.

And here’s what it is, in a nutshell:

We’ve been bought.

Meaning, we’ve been dragged into the defence of the Olympics brand-name.  I don’t know what it’s like in other cities and countries, but here, with 2010 looming, everybody who can get a mike in front of their face is working overtime stacking ideological sandbags against the idea that it might occasionally be worthwhile thinking about the negative political impact of Olympics on their host countries.  And there is something phenomenally odious about how suddenly everybody in Vancouver with even a slight public profile feels unashamed about pretending to some kind of expertise in history and political science, just so they can say “we want our shot.”  I recall a feeling of rage at seeing Charmaine Crooks, once an Olympian herself, hold forth on how the Games are actually a force that promotes democracy (or at least does better than retarding it)…and I’m sorry, I don’t care what right-wing think-tanks say in the privacy of their consultations with Ministers, to publicly defend the Olympics on these tired old grounds of “trade promotes democracy”, a thesis left dramatically unproven through the twentieth century if you’d care to check the record-books, is indeed to politicize them…even as you rail against protestors’ attempts to do the same thing.  And that’s not only hypocritical, it’s demeaning to reasoned debate — these are political ideas, and as such they should come with the normal sort of warning labels.  “The views presented in this editorial are not necessarily those of the public broadcaster.”  “The Chair recognizes the Honourable Member from Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.”  “Stuart Smalley is a caring nurturer with a certificate in Communications and Home Economics from a local community college, but he should not be considered widely-read, unless you count knowing the alphabet as being widely-read.”

I have heard so much from my talking heads, about how deeply unfair it is to politicize the Olympics, how it is essentially stupid to do so, as well as essentially kind of inhumane…

That that’s it, man:  I’ve checked out.  And yea, though the hammer is broken on the anvil, still the bullshit will go back to the money-men, who made it. I mean if somebody out there wanted me to see the Olympics as a bloated Oscars afterparty for Thatcherites, they couldn’t have picked a much more effective way of doing it.  This did all used to be about sports, on some level, didn’t it?  And maybe outside the borders of my city, it still is.  I hope so.  But here, it often seems to be just about propaganda, and nothing else.  Like, I’m expecting Christopher Nolan to reference the Olympics in the next Batman movie, kind of.  If ypou know what I mean.

I guess it all boils down to it being too uncomfortable looking at China, right now, for me to watch the Olympics.  Which usually I enjoy.  I guess what I’m saying is, this big Hall of Olympics Membership just has too many damn mirrors in it.  And, y’know…if I could just look at something else for a while, that’d be great.

Just ’til it’s over.


3 responses to “All Olympics Are Local

  1. This did all used to be about sports, on some level, didn’t it?

    Yes and no.

    Anytime there’s a social issue that needs to be worked out, we tend to come at it through sports first. Jackie Robinson made the major leagues long before Rosa Parks was on the bus. The corruption of the 1910s and ’20s was first fought during the Black Sox scandal. The people going after drugs in the 1980s went after ballplayers first. One of America’s first moves in ending the Cold War in the ’80s was to pull out of the Olympics. And so on, and so on. I don’t know if something similar’s going on here, but I don’t know that it’s not.

    Which is not to say that you’re wrong not to watch. I’m not enthusiastic about China either, and I am not a fan of the IOC. I’d like to see a study of just how much money the individual IOC members get, and where it comes from. Doctor Doom is a member of the IOC, right?

  2. The IOC and Hu Jintao and the Chinese politburo spreading a message of love. Banning the Iraqi team because their Olympic organisation lacked proper accreditation, even though they were happy when Uday Hussein – that well-known rapist, torturer, mass murderer and all-round sports aficianado – was running the shop. Jacques Rogge declaring world peace just as Georgian and Russian tanks head for a big splat-down in South Ossetia. And posh people awarding each other gold medals for arsing around on horses.

    Any ironist worth their salt has got to love the Olympics.

  3. Yeah, no wonder Doom retired the other year.

    There’s another side to the Olympics, I guess. The side where somebody who’s shit-eating poor gets to reverse their situation by being really, really good at cross-country skiing or something. In fortunate countries like Canada, that kind of success can be very meaningful for individuals — even individual observers — basically because it leaves the status quo intact.

    Hmm. More to say after I stop being dizzy.

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