This is just me speaking, and you might have a different opinion. Fine.
But this old lad who’s been around the block a few times, who’s chatted with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris about circuits, who’s walked with Walter Payton as he pulls decent-sized saplings out of the ground, who survived a party in Crobar with birthday boy Dennis Rodman – if I never see another Winter Olympics in my life, I’ll be happy.
Maybe I’m exaggerating.
But I don’t think so.
I mean, what was this two week thing that just ended that we witnessed from Beijing?
A frozen Lifetime Network soap opera featuring abused children and bleached-haired “bitch locks” of snowboarders (as artists call them)? A freezing sequel to “Squid Game”? A propaganda reel extolling the splendours of a Chinese isolationist training camp?
No crowds, no cheers, no real shared joy anywhere that I perceived. Yes, COVID precautions played a role in Big Brother’s depressing restraints and silence.
But from an opening ceremony featuring masked athletes marching through a vast stadium seemingly empty save for wildly dancing Chinese stooges and Russian President and former KGB officer Vladimir Putin to the drug abyss of the 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva to faceless bobsledders who might as well have been robots planted in tubes – it’s a Dark Planet’s Games.
Cheating? Doping? The Russians – or the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee), as the delegation was oddly called – loaded a minor like Valieva with Grandpa’s heart medication? Go on. Cheating equals Russia. Cheating is what you get when winning is about world domination and misinformation more than sports.
The Russians are so dirty – check their history, watch the documentary “Icarus” – that no one from Russia should have been allowed to participate in the Games. Not that the rest of the world, including the United States, is historically perfectly clean. But the Russians have PED as an art, a culture.
Plus, of course, winning medals and entertaining the world makes it that much easier to invade a place like, say, Ukraine.
I can also say this: by what right can an organization call something that it creates the “Olympic Games”, supposedly a global sporting competition, when much of the world never sees a snowflake and that his only ice comes from the fridge?
Hypocrisy is a motto of the Games. For years. Think about it. China and Russia are engaged in a quiet race to dominate the world, whether through human rights abuses, cyberattacks or economic disruption. They should be censored. And yet, three of the Summer or Winter Games since 2008 have taken place in one of these countries. Do you think the International Olympic Committee has the wind in its sails? Will we go down in the history of bribes in this group or its member sports federations and committees? I do not think so. This is just the length of the column.
Something unhealthy has been laid bare in these Olympics that it has become impossible to disregard the competition and think about it. It’s a kind of falsehood, a cheerful transparent veneer that tries to hide the things that make our world go round – money, prestige, power.
Six hundred million Chinese television viewers watched these Games, ensuring that it was the most-watched Olympics. And that’s why sponsors lined up to pay billions for ads. All those eyeballs.
This is why Western nations did not protest, did not denounce China’s abuses towards, for example, the ethnic Uyghurs whom it tried to eliminate. Ahead of the Games, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told American athletes not to anger Chinese officials with outbursts or statements to the contrary. Good job, Nancy. This is called self-censorship in the name of capitalism. Rule #1: Don’t Tick Customers!
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger told The New York Times that the filmmakers are trying not to give up their “values” because of business in China. “But there are trade-offs companies have to make to be global.”
Just know that the box office hit “Transformers” grossed $300 million in China.
Maybe the problem for me is that I don’t care enough about halfpipes and ski hoops, costumes, glitter, makeup, kisses and screams or festivals that can be won by the medalist Norwegian (pop.: 5.5 million).
Maybe it’s because of this Finnish cross-country skier who had his private parts frozen during a race, which happened to him, if you can imagine, for the second time in his career.
Please keep all of this away from me. Always.