Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympic Spirits: Chairman Mao; Moscow; Beijing and London

The opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics have been widely lauded in the British media at least though not Team GB's kit which the Indy describes as having
a 1980s Next Directory look.

From the main opening ceremony excerpts I saw on TV, its participants
would undoubtly sweep the board for gold medals in synchronised everything.
However this whole opening ceremony concept I find disturbing. The mass simultaneous synchronised actions by hundreds of human beings takes place at the expense of the celebration of individuals' idiosyncrasies yet surely the Olympic spirit should be about manifesting and celebrating individual sporting prowess?

Yesterday's synchronised Olympic opening ceremony reminded me more of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s with Chairman Mao's Little Red Book and the 1976, swim by 12 000 people across the River Yangtze to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mao's swim, than of the celebration of the sporting
endeavours and achievements to come of men and women individually and in
small groups. There is too much nationalism and national flag worship in
today's Olympics which maybe reflects modern man and woman's preoccupation
with nationality and territorial rights, a preoccupation which also seems to affect most
of the animal kingdom. Mankind is supposed to comprise homo sapiens
but the sap. characteristic is alas often not apparent in our behaviour.

The 1980 Moscow Olympics largely eschewed national flags and anthems and the
athletes' successes were frequently celebrated with the international
olympic committee's own flag and anthem. Will the London Olympics 2012
reflect the Moscow or Beijing interpretations of the games' spirit; or
its own hopefully more idiosyncratic one?

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