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3 posts categorized "olympics"

August 09, 2008

The Opening Ceremony to End All Ceremonies?

What you don't do if you're watching the Olympic Opening Ceremony among fellow Greeks, is point out the mediocre elements (or outright weird) of the Athens Opening Ceremony. To this day, I have no understanding as to why Bjork was chosen to participate in the Opening Ceremony, and I don't even want to start on that crude dress she wore, but it wasn't the dress, it was so much more, the very thing that arty adults don't admit: Bjork being vocally challenged.

The Beijing Opening Ceremony was a visual feast in every sense, and thank goodness Sarah Brightman was chosen to participate (I would have screamed if they opted for some faux 'trendy' non singer) in a duet. Where does one begin to describe the color, historical artistry and choreography of the opening ceremony? I'm still bewildered about the drummers, but what really had me locked on the event was the way the Olympic rings were raised from the ground, and the grand final, the Olympic cauldron.

The Australian media has been making a big deal about the pollution aspect, but one look last night, and early today, it didn't seem like a huge drama. Prior to the Opening ceremony, the venues were captured, and their architectural artistry is unbelievable. There were funny moments (for me), especially when the spectators were all requested to stand for the Chinese national anthem. It's ironic when you know that the President of the United States is there, and he probably has to stand for the national anthem of a communist country.

Verdict: The Beijing Olympic Opening Ceremony will be a hard act to follow.

August 07, 2008

Olympic Competition Behind the Scenes

We're all aware of healthy competition, but the current style of competition among the three allies - US, UK and Australia - on the eve of the Olympics is both amusing and frightening. The sports ministers of Australia and UK have started their own little bet on who'll beat who in the medal tally, and what gets me is that none of these three teams are certain.
They're yet to see the Chinese team. I think they'll faint at the sheer size of the Chinese Olympic team, who - without a doubt - have spent the past four years training to the max. Then there are the whispers of performance enhancing drugs, so the US, UK and Australian teams can go on and on, but they're yet to face their formidable opponent - the Chinese team. I'm waiting for the Opening Ceremony just to see the size of the Chinese Olympic team. It will probably take us all back to the Moscow Olympics, reminding us all of the size of the USSR Olympic team.

August 03, 2008

The Five Ringed Circus - The Olympics

I'm torn about the Olympics. In the contemporary era, the Olympic Games are all about endorsements and deals. They have been dominated by performance enhancing drugs, and I have to confess that – as a Greek – I sometimes think the Olympic Games should be canceled, for a new tournament to take its place. The original Olympic Games weren't about endorsements and money, nor were they about performance drugs – probably because these drugs didn't exist in classical times – and they were held in one place each year.

The chosen venue for the Olympic Games is all about clout (when Atlanta was chosen as a host in 1996, many in Australia referred to the Olympiad as the 'Coca-Cola Games'), especially when one considers the pollution in Beijing and the potential health issues. Such pollution can impeded performance; I feel sorry for marathon runners. How will they cope if the nefos doesn't clear to acceptable levels? Therefore, why was China chosen when this pollution problem was known? And get ready to hang on to your jockstrap because the Chinese Olympic Team will overpower every other team in terms of numbers. It will probably make the USSR Olympic Team of the past seem like little league in terms of numbers.

Athletes today are like celebrities. They wouldn't cope if they competed in true Olympic spirit – which had nothing to do with endorsements and money. In Australia sport takes first priority over other news. For example, if there was a choice between covering a nuclear reactor disaster and documenting the latest athletic scandal, the latter would win each time.

This week, Australians have read about two sport related events that have dominated newspapers. The first relates to Sonny Bill Williams, a rugby league player who walked out on his contract and took a plane to France (via London) to play for French rugby team Toulon, but the second sport related fuss relates to a relationship breakup within the Australian swimming team. I don't know what the big deal is, personally, but on a sarcastic level, I think this relationship break-up indicates how naïve Australians are. I don't know if that is a good or bad thing, but swimmers Eamon Sullivan and Stephanie Rice could have reaped more money as a couple – according to the 'professionals', like agent Max Markson. In other words, athletic profitability increases in proportion to relationships. Further, it may not be about who a person is, but whom one fucks. Take Victoria Beckham, the only thing she does is prance around in designer clothes being photographed by paparazzi. She doesn't have a career, and hasn't had a career for years, and if she was on her own, without her male appendage (her husband) she wouldn't be faux celebrity she is. But the Beckhams are smarter than most couples; they've got it down-pat. They're a brand.

And this is what Olympic fever can be about. In today's terms, in the public eye, relationships aren't just about the relationship; they're also about endorsements. According to Markson, if the swimmers reconcile after the Olympics, their dollar value will increase. It's a sad indicator of the superficiality accompanying athletics. In Australia, not all athletes or potential athletes are able to support themselves. Those who are fortunate to have endorsements don't have to worry about the financial outlay to travel to Beijing or train each day, but the new athlete can only hope for endorsements because the government doesn't do a lot to subsidize the financial cost over the years it takes to evolve into an elite athlete. Sports curriculums in schools aren't sufficient to groom any individual into an athlete. We don't have sports oriented scholarships at universities.

At the end of the day an athlete is all about their performance – not their looks, their profitability (via magazine spreads, etc) – and if the latter outshines the former, then they shouldn't be considered athletes, but cash cows. It's understandable for certain companies (manufacturers of sport equipment and apparel) to have athletes as spokespeople, but it becomes a farce when endorsements exceed athletic accomplishments – the Anna Kournikova effect.
On some level, the Olympic Games have become a huge media/endorsement junket.


Postscript: Stephanie Rice in FHM. Therefore, athlete or wank fodder?

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© Anastasia Mavromatis 2005 - 2008