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Salt Lake Pity

One of my one of my overriding concerns over the next couple of weeks is to avoid any TV coverage of the latest outbreak of ‘Olympic-itis’ from Salt Lake City. The last thing I want to do with what little and precious spare time I have at the moment is to spend it watching a bunch of po-faced fitness fanatics running up and down mountains and listening to a wailing selection of national anthems most of which sound like Turkey’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.

That’s what it all feels like to me: Eurovision on steroids, which is ironic given the Cromwellian intolerance of the IOC for any of their participants swallowing so much as a paracetamol lest it give any of them an ‘unfair advantage’. But I say let them take all the steroids they like. Who cares if they grow horns? In fact, let them grow six titties, four sets of genitals, a spare arse and a third leg. At least it would make the relay races interesting and that I would pay to see.

Short of that I think I’ll pass because former footsoldiers of the East German secret police dressed in sequin jumpsuits and doing triple-salkos is the very antithesis of my idea of entertainment and is it just me or is there something disturbingly reminiscent of the Nuremburg Rallies in those torchlit opening ceremonies? For sure the sight of all those glowing hopefuls being paraded around in their humiliating ‘national costumes’ with a ‘Strength-Through-Joy’ grin on their faces has a jumper-over-the-head factor of about 50. Those about to die of embarrassment, salute you!

I suppose it would be extravagantly churlish of me not to mention the transformation of Olympic events from taxpayer boondoggle to corporate sponsor-fest which, at least, has put a stop to the bankrupting of cities in which the spandex-circus was unfortunate enough to land. In those days they were not so much athletes as locusts in lycra, devastating a whole landscape before buggering off and leaving behind grand white-elephant stadia like monuments of a long lost race.

But corporatisation has had the unfortunate side-effect of morphing the games from dull and condescending expressions of post-war aspiration to multi-culti clappy-happy jamborees in which we are all supposed to enthusiastically join in North Korean style.

The Olympic Games are an expression of 20th century state collectivism; the manifestation of a time when ‘golden youth’ had to have spiffing lungs and rippling muscles in order to be productive citizens, a healthy individual meant a healthy polity and a nations worth could be accurately measured by how far its citizens could chuck a rock. The fact that the British usually collect less medals than an average French combat division is one of the many reason why I love this country.

The Olympic Games is an idea that has outlived its usefulness. At best it is arcane, at worst it is faintly sinister and, even if it were neither of those things, it would still be a dreary, nauseating waste of time.

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