How badly do you want all of the major actors in the Olympic farce to fall flat on their faces over the next fortnight?
No terror attacks, of course – that would be tragedy. Rather, I wish for nothing but the worst for the Chinese government, the International Olympic Committee, NBC, and the insufferably arrogant International Olympic “movement” that touts the games as proof that rather than being “Killer Angels,” mankind is, in fact, capable of playing nice with each other.
Never mind that every single sport (or nearly all of them) have a World Championship every couple of years or so where athletes and gamers from all over the world come together and have a gay old time without anyone calling out the tanks. The winners are feted just as gloriously at these championships. They get to stand on podiums and hear their national anthems played. The difference is that NBC usually isn’t there pawing at you for a vacuous interview as some blow dried bimbo asks you how it feels to lose your race, coming within two tenths of a second of winning a gold medal thus making you immortal.
Cut the “brotherhood of man” crap. The prune faced, super rich, superannuated fossils that run the International Olympic Committee are laughing all the way to the bank because once again, they believe they have put one over on the rest of us. The IOC has been using the “peace, love, dope” angle – with all of us being the dope – for 100 years and have cleaned up royally. We’re talking about revenue greater than that for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and the National Basketball Association combined. That’s $4 billion in ticket sales, broadcast rights, T-Shirts, and toilet seat covers. And that doesn’t include the various country’s individual Olympic committees. The Olympic logo itself is one of the more valuable trademarks on the planet.
It used to be that only “amateurs” were allowed to compete in the Games. That was always a questionable proposition because even before the eastern bloc countries made a mockery of the term, plenty of western athletes were getting money under the table from nationalist boosters in their own countries.
Now, they make no bones about it at all. Track and field athletes get appearance fees and huge bonuses for medals from their sponsors. And if you don’t have a sponsor (or play professionally in sports like tennis, baseball, basketball, or soccer) American corporations have hired hundreds of world class athletes, given them make-work jobs that they get paid a salary even if they only show up to collect a paycheck.
In the end, we aped the commie bloc to build an Olympic team second to none.
The Games begin on August 8th with an opening ceremony that we are told will outdo in regimentation, and lockstep, mindless, slavish, robotic grandiosity the catatonic crowds at a Kim Jung Il birthday celebration in a North Korean stadium. No one does government mandated fun quite like the commies. And while in the stands, when you’re told to hold up that flash card by God you better thrust that piece of cardboard skyward with all your enthusiasm or else. But woe betide the luckless card chucker if they accidentally turn the wrong side of the card to the front! I’m sure the Chicoms have some suitably draconian punishment for fouling up the massive display of military precision in flash card propaganda.
The theme of this Olympics is going to be “One World. One Dream” which, by definition, begs the question of whose “dream” we are talking about. I doubt very much whether there is much room in there for the “dream” of individual liberty: More like the nightmare of communist control. But that’s okay. The massive display of citizen coordination and participation by the Chicoms at the opening ceremonies will no doubt impress the lame brained among us.
And the world will marvel at how far these clever Chinamen have come since the days of Mao and Chou en-Lai when regimented displays like this were reserved for marching off to the fields in forced labor battalions in order to bring about another non-”Miracle” of Chinese agriculture.
This is why I wish the Chinese government ill in their efforts to portray their prison in a positive light. Hopefully, Mother Nature and the bureaucratic stupidity of the communist state will help that process along. Already, the Chinese are taking desperate measures to rid the city of Beijing of pollution that would lead to the cancellation of events like the Marathon and the longer endurance events. They have “seeded” the air with pellets that are supposed to disperse the choking smog – with mixed results.
Failing that, why not just deny that the pollution exists at all, that all that coughing, phlegm expelling air is really just fine – just a little humidity that’s all:
As Beijing’s polluted air came close to exceeding levels even the Chinese consider dangerous yesterday, one of the International Olympic Committee’s most senior figures dismissed the yellow-grey haze that periodically hangs over the city as mist, and blamed the media for overstating pollution problems.
Air quality in Beijing remains a big cause for concern three days before the start of the games. Members of the US athletics team arrived in the city wearing face masks yesterday and organisers are preparing to postpone or relocate endurance events including the marathon and road cycling if smog levels reach dangerous limits.
But yesterday Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC’s medical commission, said he was confident that pollution would not harm athletes or visitors, and suggested media coverage had created a false impression of pollution levels.
“The mist in the air that we see in those places, including here, is not a feature of pollution primarily but a feature of evaporation and humidity,” he told the IOC’s annual session. “We do have a communication problem here. Once the misconception has become sort of established in the minds of people, it’s not that easy to get the right message through.
Then there’s the delicious thought that the commies could shoot themselves in the foot by showing their true nature to the world. They’ve already told journalists which websites they can access and which are out of bounds. Now it appears they’ve really stepped in it and demonstrated why being a real journalist and living in a totalitarian state can be a painful experience:
Chinese police Tuesday apologised for roughing up two Japanese journalists as Beijing’s Olympic commitment to allow foreign media freedom came under scrutiny three days before the Games opened.
The apology came after border police “clashed” with the Japanese journalists who had arrived in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region after an alleged terrorist attack Monday left 16 police dead, Xinhua news agency said.
“The local foreign affairs department made an apology Tuesday to two Japanese reporters,” Xinhua said.
A photographer for the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper was forcibly detained late Monday and kicked by police in the city of Kashgar, his employer said.
A reporter for the Nippon Television Network was also detained and treated roughly by Chinese police who pushed his face to the ground, the network said.
Obviously, Chinese police must work on their people skills. Manhandling and kicking peasants is one thing. Who are they going to complain to? But roughing up journalists is a no-no. Such news unsettles the populace and reflects badly on the state. Not that the government doesn’t approve of roughing up journalists from time to time – just as long as they’re Chinese journalists all is well.
But its not just the Chinese government and the Olympic Movement I want to see with egg all over their faces. The National Broadcasting Company paid more than $900 million for the right to broadcast from China’s workers’ paradise and are wrestling with a dilemma that no American news organization should have to think twice about; if the Chinese police start bashing heads at protests, should we cover it?
Hundreds of athletes will parade into a stadium in front of world leaders, including President Bush, and a huge global television audience. If an athlete holds a protest sign or waves a Tibetan flag, how will the Chinese hosts react? Will the television networks show the scene? How will the Chinese handle the media for the rest of the Games?
The stakes are high for both the network, which paid $900 million for broadcast rights for the Olympics, and the reputation of NBC News. If it covers any controversies aggressively, it risks drawing the ire of the Chinese and interfering with coverage of sports events. But if it shies from coverage of any protests, NBC risks being criticized in the West for kowtowing to China — particularly since its corporate parent, General Electric, is aggressively expanding its investments in China.
One thing is for sure, vows Steve Capus, the president of NBC’s news division: “If there’s news, we’re going to cover it.”
Given other stories about how NBC has been “negotiating” over covering human rights controversies, Mr. Capus may be behind the curve a bit. I have no doubt NBC news would love to cover street clashes between protestors and Chinese cops. But I am equally sure that any such coverage will be a corporate decision and Capus may find that he’s been cut off at the knees. Everyone remembers Tienanmen Square and the government pulling the plug on networks broadcasting the crackdown. Would NBC corporate risk their $900 million investment just to capture a few minutes of ugliness when their hosts demand they only cover the spectacle of sport and the glory of the new Chinese Empire?
Negotiating freedom – as some western journalists are doing with internet access – doesn’t cut it in my book. Bartering freedom of the press so that you won’t offend a host country smacks too much of grovelling. Imagine if all western journalists got together and decided they wouldn’t take any restrictions on who or what they can cover and that they should be able to access any damn webpage they want. This would leave the Chinese government with a choice; kick them out or put up with a little freedom of the press.
The helluva it is, we’re going to have to go through the same thing in a few years when the Winter Olympics are held in Russia. I’m sure Putin & Co. will put on quite a show when their time comes.