The controversial Bejing 2008 Olympic Games are over, the baton has passed to London for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The 2008 Games have been mired by China’s occupation of Tibet and consistent abuse of human rights by a totalitarian regime. There have also been a number of Chinese breaches of agreements, notably the agreement to set an area aside for protests where Chinese citizens could make protests during the Games. Protestors were required to apply for a permit to protest. Some of these would-be protestors were promptly taken to prison for making an application and the remaining protestors are still awaiting their permits. The opening ceremony film footage was ‘enhanced’ by adding computer graphics to suggest fireworks that never existed, and where the young Chinese girl selected to sing at the opening was recorded and another child used to mime to the recording. Perhaps trivial deceptions, but there were also allegations of serious deception by entering under-age competitors and falsifying their dates of birth.
However, the Chinese reprised the spectacle of the Nazi Olympic Games in Berlin, as only a totalitarian regime can, and the facilities provided for the Games were excellent, all being completed in time for the event.
We now enter a period of picking over what happened in competition, with governments seeking to bath in the glory of their medal winners, unfair criticism of the performance of some athletes, and excuses and allegations from those who failed to win the medals they thought they deserved.
Gold for attacking athletes went to Chinese Television for their show trials of athletes who failed to win gold. Unedifying interviews pilloried athletes who ‘only’ achieved ‘inferior’ results by winning silver or bronze.
Gold for attempting to claim the glory of athletes for a political party goes to Scottish Prime Minister “Bottler” Brown who was quick to suggest that he would be arranging Honours for British medal winners.
Gold for brass neck goes to the Eurocrats who are attempting to seize the medals won by British competitors for display as ‘European’ medals in some blaoted Eurocrat’s office in Brussels.
Gold for whinging goes to those Australians who were angry that Britain won more medals.
The reality is that every athlete who qualified to join a national team had already demonstrated great skill in a particular Olympic discipline. Those who won medals demonstrated the greatest skills under the pressure of world-level competition. Whatever resources were provided by governments and commercial sponsors only served to assist the determined efforts of athletes who had dedicated years of training and competition to get to the Olympics. It may be sad that some athletes were not as well supported financially as others but the key ingredienta are the dedication and determination of young people to work hard over a long period to reach Olympic level. Where a Government decides to award additional Honours, in an attempt to bask in the glory, this devalues Olympic medals and the Honours system. The real honour is the Olympic medal, award not on the whim of some politician on the make, but by a judging system that recognizes extreme achievement. Those athletes who then go on to give their sporting lives to their sport and to helping other athletes to achieve may well be deserving of Honour by their nation. It is also unfair to those who qualified to compete but failed to win a medal. Perhaps the fair solution would be to create a new honour to be awarded to all national team members, their coaches and all who provided support for the competitors as members of the greater team.