Another Olympiad

So the Olympics has finally started. Seems it’s been pretty low-key this time around, excepting of course all the media about the accommodation, venues, conditions, etc, which have overwhelmed any discussion about the actual sports.

I sense a level of cynicism these days that never used to be. It’s a sign of the times, but there’s also some pretty good justification for it. Sports followers in general got burned with the corrupt bosses at FIFA, and figure that the IOC are not much better – and possibly with good reason. On top of that you’ve got the recent fiasco concerning drugs and the Russian Olympic team, handled with customary finesse (not) by the IOC and WADA. Further proof that pure Olympic ideals have long been tainted by pragmatic and ruthless ambition. Then there’s the comical addition of sports that either don’t belong at the Olympics – like golf (and before that, tennis) – or which are so marginal as to be silly.

Then there’s the venue, Rio, which seems poorly chosen in the first instance (likely a result of IOC deals), seemingly badly prepared and unsuitable in general, and embarking on an expensive (PR) venture while many in the city live in poverty and without the basic standards they might expect if billions weren’t being spent on an Olympics instead.

People are jaded. We have incompetent, often corrupt politicians; big corporations riding roughshod over the common consumer; terrorists threatening peace of mind; and cynicism and greed on display everywhere you look. And for those who care, a climate slipping out of control while the world dithers and argues.

These are the reasons why England votes Brexit and why a clown like Donald Trump draws so many followers. People are sick of the old ways, the familiar lies, the same faces. They’re weary of corporations and party machines who deliver a product whether you want it or not. They want to reclaim some sovereignty over their own life, and in desperation, fear and perhaps some stupidity rush to vote out of the status quo, or clamour for the man who threatens it.

I suspect Hilary Clinton will become the next president of the USA, but up against someone like Trump it should never have been a contest. That it is speaks to the fact that people want change, and an old name and face like Hilary Clinton represents the old and hated ways. It’s why Bernie Sanders did so well, because he offered something different, and in so doing would be a surer bet coming up against Trump. It’s a telling point that many who supported Bernie – who is of the left – would rather vote for Trump than Clinton. It’s not the ideology, it’s having a voice, a say. People have been forced to the extremes by their frustration and anger, and the extremes join as in a circle.

Anyway, back to the Olympics.

I grew up loving the Olympics. So did my family. So did most of Australia. I’m sure over the next couple of weeks I’ll be drawn to it again, the swimming in particular, but then the cycling and the rowing too – and, well, just about everything else too.

This morning as I got out of bed the Opening Ceremony began. I had the TV on while I pottered about. I’m not really an Opening Ceremony sort of guy. The sports fine, but I can live without the bombast and theatre. I don’t recall ever watching an Opening Ceremony from first minute to last, except for the Sydney Olympics. I remember rushing home from work on a Friday night to watch it, as everyone else did – the bars would have been quiet that night. I was enthralled on that occasion, and proud. What it made it different was that it was our bombast, our theatre, and so it was mine too.

I remember 4 years ago, an uncertain time in my life (hasn’t changed that much) I made many predictions I came to regret. No predictions this time, but by all reports Oz is likely to do a lot better than we did in London. I’ll take that.



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