Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Look at all those happy smiling oriental faces, the colourful costumes, the delightful dancing, the precision marching, the fireworks, the buildings, the sheer scale of inventive entertainment…China is such a lovely place, isn’t it?
Now, let’s get this straight, I love sport. Some world shattering events in Beijing misted my eyes. But I am a bit of a fundamentalist and would eradicate all those activities in the Olympics that seem too far removed from the traditional business of the athletics stadium, the pool and the gym; football, tennis, BMX and so on. But, leaving my asceticism aside, the biggest blot on the Olympics’ showcase of human endeavour these days, is the marketing of a deceitful image of a host country that seeks to hide its inhumanity, institutionalised corruption and imperialism under the saccharine glitz of the ‘ceremonies’.
The notion of promoting national pride goes all the way back to Hitler. Miraculous fusions of Busby Berkeley routines, mammoth pyrotechnics and hi-tech gimmickry have now become competitive in their own right. Each successive Olympic Games presents the host country with an even more costly and wasteful mountain to climb. China’s sins remain in the shadows behind the TV set. And not just the gross suppression in Tibet, the pillaging of African resources or its internal, geriatric dictatorship, leading to the slaughter of the young at Tiananmen Square, but the every day abuses of its citizens such as the neglect of the thousands of bereaved and homeless families following the recent earthquakes or, in order to stage the Games, the rape of the most basic resource of all.
This latter concerns the huge consumption of water at the Games, not just to hydrate the enormous population that had been so dramatically gathered in one place but also the lush environment created as a backdrop to the spectacle. To do this, the Chinese authorities effectively endangered the livelihoods of thousands of poor farmers by stealing their water. It takes a truly oppressive regime to regiment multitudes, create fantastic architecture and promote a profile of itself so far removed from actuality that the huge circus that gathered in Beijing and the audiences around the world, embrace its presence as a leading power in the new world order, while, at the same time, averting their eyes from the inhumane governance of its own population and that of its neighbours.
We should dump the Olympics unless some kind of moral compass is used to measure the culture in which it is to be staged.
So that’s stuffed London, then! In fact it’s stuffed just about every country that I can think of!