Thursday, August 02, 2012

Olympic Thoughts

No wonder it rained a lot yesterday - that many people of Great Britain breathing in collectively for the first time since last Friday must have lowered the atmospheric pressure considerably. It was good to get a couple of gold medals.

Many people lament the loss of the amateur ethos the games used to stand for. I recall that so many soviet-block competitors had their occupation down as 'army' in the 1960s-80s that only allowing democratic professionalism restored the balance. It was funny to hear someone suggest that Heather Stanning should be supported in her rowing career by the army rather than being sent to Afghanistan. Boots - change feet.

Many people lament the drug culture that haunted the Olympics for a few seasons. The random testing of competitors and mandatory testing of winners seems to have changed things for the better there.

So I wonder if the next round of laments might be about something that is harder to counter - the voluntary nature of the competition. It is reported today that Chinese teachers are on the look out for sports aptitude in those as young as eight. Such children are taken away from their schools and friends (and sometimes families) to be rigorously trained and coached in their discipline. For China it is too disgraceful not to win and less of a disgrace to abuse (if I dare put it that strongly) children. I have no idea how we counter that except by understanding that if a nation wants to do that to win Olympic gold then so be it. They will always top the medal charts and, a bit like in Scottish football from now on, it will be a competition to see who comes second to Celtic. Meanwhile we must protest diplomatically at restrictions on individual liberty, using sanctions if necessary.

Those countries which do not allow people to live in freedom make it impossible for a team of theirs to chuckle if the wrong flag is displayed. It's protest or suffer.

Which brings us back to the quietly subversive nature of our opening ceremony last Friday. Freedom to volunteer to try and win Olympic gold is priceless.

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