Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chinese Crackers

Having enjoyed a great jog over Wimbledon Common at 7:45 this morning
in glorious sunshine and then watching many runners and spectators having
an equally fulfilling time in the 2008 Flora London Marathon despite the
rain, it is clear how absurd the media comment about the Olympic
"brand" being tarnished by the free Tibet protests during the Torch relay, was.

These great sporting events are not about brands. Sure they need money to organise
some of which comes from sponsorship by companies with global brand names but
the atmosphere is largely created by the participants themselves and
the spectators. Tibet is a country whose population appears to have been
subjugated by China so protesting along the Olympic torch relay route
for the Bejing Olympics is a good way to make that point. There was no tarnishing
of the Olympic spirit that I could discern. Who really cares about "brands" or "brand names" anyway?

That the UK government permitted Chinese body guards all dressed in
deceptively sporty blue track suits to surround the Olympic torch during
the London leg of the relay did tarnish our own traditions of freedom of
speech and of any necessary security being largely provided by our still
mainly unarmed police forces.

The reports on the BBC of Lord Coe (himself a former Olympic athlete
and 2012 London Olympic comittee) about the blue track suited
body guards, were that:

"Former Olympic champion Lord Coe, who is now the head of the organising committee for the 2012 London Games, described them as "horrible".


"They tried to push me out of the way three times. They did not speak English. They were thugs."

reflect really poorly on the UK government's involvement in the
Olympic Torch relay security arrangements - more's the pity.
Gordon Brown's decision not to attend the opening ceremony of the Games
themselves, alas also seem very weak.

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