ClareBear was 16 years old and the city was so safe, well lit and patrolled that I let her stay long into the night at various 'live sights' - even bought us mobile phones as I normally wouldn't let a 16 year old venture into town late at night. Truthfully? It was a wonderful three weeks. People were friendly, helpful, kind and filled with enthusiasm. The atmosphere was one of community and very welcoming. Crime rates dropped severely and it ended up being the 'best games ever'. Shame we couldn't sustain that atmosphere and cohesion.
Tonight on the news I watched as New Delhi was completely shut down for a three kilometre torch relay. This is after earlier in the week the US leg being run through alternative routes and warehouses to dodge protesters. I remember standing on Old Northern Road with a bunch of littlies, cheering as the torch went by. Not because I gave a flying fuck about the Olympics but because our little suburb happened to have a torch relay and I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to say 'I'd been there on the day'.
I am astutely aware of the Tibetan rallying against China. I think their timing is perfect to achieve a world focus. While the world watches the torch relay, it's a perfect opportunity to receive media attention but I'm also in typical empathic fashion disappointed at the level of violence and control that the torch relay is receiving. In 2000, not a secret service person in sight, although I'm sure they were there. We're not into dressing like Men In Black. Just families cheering from the sideline and if they were lucky, getting a glimpse of a previous or potential gold medallist. Whatever security was around, it was subtle and in the background. Now, it's a media circus. Cities being shut down . . blue track-suited Chinese secret service keeping the hoards away or worse still, the torch being diverted. So what's the point? Don't get me wrong, I really don't care either way whether the Olympics takes place or not.
I don't care for sport although I'll probably put up with Bruce McIvaney prattling on about Australia's fantastic swimmers, basketballers, rowers, walkers, pole vaulters . . and if I hear another word about that biatch of a hurdler Jana whatshersnottt, I'll throw a brick at the TV. It's as if no other country is competing . . .but I still believe that the Olympics should be beyond politics. I admire the Tibetans for finally getting their cause exposed on mainstream media (although it smacks of Western spin doctoring) and bringing their plight to the people. It's a great opportunity to present their cause and the obnoxious human rights record of the Chinese into the media spotlight. But . . . hands off the athletes. Stand at the side of the road, be exposed to the cameras, fly your flags, wave your banners, cry your tears and chant your grievances . . . just don't jump on these kids who have given up so much to become elite sportspeople.
If blame is to be laid, it's firmly with the International Olympic Committee for actually awarding China the Olympics in the first place . . would they have given it to Zimbabwe if they'd made a presentation? Would they have awarded the honour to North Korea? I think not. The fault lies not with the athletes but with a blindsided, IOC, for allowing a repressive Communist regime with an abysmal human rights record to hold this prestigious (to some) sporting event. Why isn't anyone giving them the finger?
Kudos Tibet, on April 24, the day before one of our most solemn day Anzac Day, keep protesting but keep it clean, peaceful and serene, as is your leader. Don't forget your origins and you principals. Beware the rent-a-crowd. You will lose empathy if you persist in violent protest . . . a peaceful fight will do your cause more good than mauling athletes during a torch relay. My prayer flags are flying for you. Seriously.
And get those bloody blue tracksuits out of the picture. Kev07 vows they won't be present in Australia . . we'll see!