The Olympic Spectacle

English: The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, ...
English: The Olympic Flag flying in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, outside the provincial legislature of British Columbia, in recognition of Vancouver’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Olympics of course roll around every four years. I’m not particularly a sports fan, and in fact I don’t think that I’ve watched any of it this time, except for the excerpts on the evening news show. That doesn’t stop me feeling pleased whenever one of my countrymen wins a medal.

But much of the Olympics is not about the sport. Much of it is to do with how the host nation is coping with the huge sporting event, and this time the host nation, Brazil, has come under fire for a number of reasons. Obviously big spending on sport in a poor country is not a good look, and if things go wrong with the accommodation or the actual venues, then it looks even worse.


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Unfortunately it’s the nature of the beast for things to go wrong. There is a high need for accommodation, for athletes and officials and this pretty much has to be flung up in a hurry given the short time frames. Hence athletes arrive to find unfinished quarters and other such issues.

The same is true of the venues. In a country like Brazil where there isn’t a lot of money to spare, things like water pollution are a fact of life, and a rushed clean up is not going to fix that. Even in this country harbours and marinas can sometimes be less that perfectly clean. Such is life, in spite of strenuous efforts to clean things up.


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I believe it to be true that many of these sports venues may become white elephants after the games, especially those for the minor sports. It is unlikely that there will be the level of usage from local athletes after the Games that would permit them to be kept open. The accommodation areas may fare better in this respect as there is always a demand for accommodation. I believe that this is true for all past Olympic host nations, at least to some extent.

The Olympic Games do draw people to the host country, to spend money on tickets and accommodation, not to mention the myriad of trinkets and souvenirs that they will no doubt purchase. It’s questionable however whether or not the host country is going to profit in either the short term or the longer term from the Games. Of course they hope that people will enjoy themselves and maybe return to spend more money.


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News crews having been going out in Rio and asking the locals their opinions on the Games, and naturally, they are not very positive about them. If you are living in sub-standard accommodation and you see millions being spent on short term accommodation for visitors who will only occupy them for a few weeks, you would likely not be positive either. The locals’ opinions on the news crews who ask silly questions is not, however, recorded.

Most nations have one or two representatives. When a really small nation gets a medal of any colour, the world’s press tend to descend on the winner and breathlessly ask the same old questions. “How does it feel to win a medal?” and “How will the folks back home be feeling right now?”. Of course the athletes are ecstatic and the folks back home will be proud too. Such cookie cutter question and answer session are so predictable that they become amusing.

Medal presentation at the 1936 Berlin Olympic ...
Medal presentation at the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, Sivano Abba-Italy (3rd place) Gotthard Handrick-Germany (1st place) Charles Leonard-USA (2nd place) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Of course, that not a comment on the amazing achievements of the athletes from small nations who win medals, some of whom will have scrimped and saved to attend the games and may not have had the opportunity to be coached by the best coaches, but it’s a comment on the predictability of the media’s responses.

Nations always have high hopes for their athletes, and are unreasonably disappointed when they come up against the best in the world and don’t do too well. Of course the athletes from a small nation don’t have the resources and coaches that the larger nations do, and so when an athlete from a small nation claims a medal, it is a significant event, not that this diminishes in any way the achievements of the athletes from the larger nations.


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There are many unique features of the Rio Olympic Games. One of them is the presence of athletes who are competing as refugees. They have (so far) obtained two medals, a gold and a bronze in shooting. These athletes (there are 10 of them) have undergone great hardships, often travelling long distances through multiple countries, and to nevertheless be able to take part in the Olympic Games and even win some medals shows a great deal of fortitude.

Another is the perceived risk from the Zika virus. It’s commendable that so many athletes have ignored the risk and come to Rio anyway. The only group that stayed away purportedly for this reason were some of the golfers. As the linked articles suggest there may have been other reasons for their absence.


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Brazil is not known as a particularly safe country to be in, though it isn’t thought to be as dangerous as many countries can be. However, there does not seem to have been much in the way of trouble between the local population and the athletes, support staff and spectators who have come to Rio.

One notable exception was the case of four American competitors who were supposedly robbed at gunpoint while celebrating a medal win. As it turned out, what really happened was that the four were drunk and trashed a service station. The station’s security guard pulled a gun to prevent them driving off and made them pay US$50 to cover the damage that they had done.


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Scandals are part of the Olympics, and the drugs scandal has been the worst so far. At one stage it looked as if the whole Russian team was going to be banned, as it was alleged that there was a government led doping programme in place.

While it was evident that some athletes do take performance enhancing drugs, the fact that in Russia this was actively encouraged by the state was a shock. In the end Russian athletes who could prove that they were clean were allowed to compete. While this is good for the athletes themselves, it was a let off for the Russian state doping scheme. This is not a good look for sport and unfair to other athletes.


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Breaking the Chain

An elephant named Neelakantan owned by trying ...
An elephant named Neelakantan owned by trying to break its chain on . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good friend of mine has posted at least one picture a day for a long time now. He has posted for well over a thousand days without a break. It’s a phenomenal achievement and I’m in awe of his accomplishment.

Just recently he has been ill and confessed yesterday that he had been close to breaking the chain, which would have been a real shame. But his predicament led me to consider my own blogging and the drives that make me add a new post every week and prevent me from breaking my particular chain.

Figural sculpture representing 'Introspection'...
Figural sculpture representing ‘Introspection’ at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can’t speak for him of course, obviously, but I can do a bit of introspection on my own blogging. When it comes down to it one can only speak for oneself and attempts to speak for others are doomed from the outset.

I have tried before to create a blog and failed. I’d get three or four weeks into it, I’d forget and then months would pass before I thought of it again. This time I’m well past the 100 posts and pushing on. To put it another way I’ve been burbling on for around two years and I’m still going.

25 Years – The Chain
25 Years – The Chain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t do it for an audience, though around 100 people have “followed” this blog over the months. I don’t know how many people, if any, actually read this blog on a weekly basis. So although I put it “out there”, I do it mainly for myself, even though I hope that those who stumble across it like it.

So what is different this time? When I started this blog it was intended to be a record of my culinary activities and each entry was just a few hundred words. Then I switched to posting more general stuff and the number of words reached 1000 per post. Early on I decided to post once a week. Now I post pretty much only “general stuff” and waffle on for 1000 words.

English: cooking in desert
English: cooking in desert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posted earlier on how I choose the subjects that I post on. Roughly speaking something suggests itself to me or I sit down and pluck a subject out the air at the last minute. I don’t generally find it difficult to reach 1000 words – Look! I’ve already typed more than 300 words and I haven’t yet got to where I thought I was going when I started!

I was going to talk about the urge to keep the chain going. Come Saturday I might have an idea in mind, maybe not. If not I might not have even thought about the blog, but come Sunday it is nagging at the back of my mind.

The grotesque nagging wife
The grotesque nagging wife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s no question that I am going to write the blog entry, but my enthusiasm may be low. It may seem a chore, something that is going to take up my time, when I could be slouching around doing nothing. I call that relaxing.

But I may also have thought of something that I want to write about. I may have some idea of the points that I want to make, but I always think that I won’t have enough ideas to bulk out the article to 1000 words, even though I have never failed to reach that limit every time!

...More Than 1000 Words
…More Than 1000 Words (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I expect that in the early days of my blog, if I had missed a week that would be it. I doubt that I would have picked up the thread again. The chain got longer and longer and it would seem to be a shame if I were to break it now

As it was, I nearly broke the chain when I and my wife went away for a weekend, and I didn’t have the time to write the blog for that weekend. However, I had posted that I was going to catch up, and catch up I did, thank the little gods. Even though I may not have many regular readers, I felt an obligation to any that I might have to keep the chain complete.

English: The M2 missing link, Ballymena See 19...
English: The M2 missing link, Ballymena See 190444. A view of the site for the missing motorway, some eleven years after the M2 had opened. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a period coming up in the future when it will be very difficult for me to post weekly as usual. I will be away from home for a month or so and will not have easy access to my usual computer. I will have to work out a way of getting past this period, either by cutting down my posts in size or just by declaring that I will be skipping a few weeks.

Preparing and planning for a break is a bit different to having difficulties in posting because of illness or some other reason. If illness or other reason prevents one from posting and forces a break there is of course the possibility of making an extra post to re-link the chain. Posting weekly as I do, I have a week to catch up, but my friend does not have that luxury as he posts every day. I’ve been able to catch up before my next post is due, so far at least, so it is less likely that a break in my chain would be fatal.

The missing-link between corset and corselette...
The missing-link between corset and corselette from 1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, when we talk about likelihoods, we must take into account the people involved. The blog in question has gone through several versions, including a version on Usenet newsgroups and a web-based version. It started as a newsletter for New Zealand expatriates, but has evolved into a blog featuring my friend’s interest in photography. And birds. So it has survived and evolved, and I hope and suspect that it would continue to survive and evolve even if some event should occur which causes a hiatus.

English: Sgùrr a' Mhaim and the Devil's Ridge ...
English: Sgùrr a’ Mhaim and the Devil’s Ridge Taken just as the ridge drops down to the hiatus in the ridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about mine? Well I’m frankly amazed that I have managed to keep going for so long. My previous efforts have lasted a few posts at the most. Obviously, at some time or other my blog will cease. I just hope that I can keep it going for a long time yet.

I don’t think that I will run out of ideas and if I do I can just take a metaphorical pin and stick it in the Internet somewhere and pull out a topic. After all, Google has an “I feel lucky” button. Pressing that button reveals that 22 January 2015 was Grandfather’s Day in Poland. Hmmm, I could make something out of that, I think.

"The Favorite" - Grandfather and Gra...
“The Favorite” – Grandfather and Grandson – “Ο Αγαπημένος του Παππού” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)