Issue 08, Volume 85
Aug. 8, 2012
AH, THE OLYMPICS. The time that comes every two years, in which citizens beat their chests like gorillas defending their territories, while proudly proclaiming that their respected home countries are better than their opponents.
The Olympics serve as an ever increasing means to promote excessive nationalism through the opening ceremony’s Parade of Nations and of course, the pitting of nation against nation in sporting events.
Fans fill the arenas donned in their respected countries’ colours, imbibe copious amounts of food, drink, merchandise, and of course, alcohol, and become cheerleaders for their countries.
What bad ever came from a healthy dose of nationalism?
Nationalism has played key role in controversy surrounding the 2012 London Olympics for three key reasons.
First, NBC decided to place excessive profits at the forefront of their Olympic strategy in deciding how to deal with a tribute to the victims of the 7/7 terror attacks in London which claimed 52 victims, days after the 2012 Summer Olympic hosts were named.
Rather than air the tribute, NBC decided to cater to their America audience and broadcast a rather long and irrelevant interview between Ryan Seacrest and Michael Phelps.
It’s bad enough that NBC is time delaying Olympic coverage— to ensure greater profits from prime time viewership— but to purposively omit a tribute to a terrorist attack is in poor taste. Censorship for the purpose of profit is still censorship.
The second controversy surrounding nationalism involves the International Olympic Committee refusing to allow for a one-minute moment of silence to the victims of the 1972 Munich Massacre.
The president of the IOC recently commented that the opening ceremonies were an inappropriate forum to commemorate the Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Olympics, opting to lead a minute of silence in the Athletes’ Village some days after the opening ceremonies and after multiple protests and organizers condemned the IOC.
Indeed, it is interesting that the opening ceremonies served as an appropriate forum for one terrorist tribute, but not another. Why the distinction?
Finally, there are many who believe that the entire opening ceremonies served as a leftist plot to promote left-wing ideals, and some are even suggesting that the ceremonies were designed to help Barack Obama’s chances for re-election (I fit into neither group A nor B).
Those who adhere to these beliefs cite that the opening ceremonies portrayed the industrial revolution as oppressive. Who could claim that this was the case? What is oppressive about child labour, a lack of safety provisions, little to no labour laws, minimal pay and the high rate of job-related injuries and death?
They also claim that the billowing smoke stacks which rose from the ground were a critique on corporatism and excessively promoted extremist environmentalism.
Rush Limbaugh claimed that the ceremony was an indication of how liberals wish to arrange the world: ‘”That’s how the libs want all of us to live. That’s where global warming— minus the smokestacks and the pollution, they want to get rid of modernity. Anything modern, get rid of it. That’s when the planet was not being destroyed.”
Opponents to the opening ceremonies also note that they served to promote socialism and collectivism through the promotion of Britain’s National Health Service. Further, they objected to the imagery of Mary Poppins, dancing nurses and children bouncing in hospital beds, although, I am unsure as to why.
The real question arises, what was the opening ceremonies intended to
I cannot answer this question: I get more confused each time I watch the spectacle. Scenes of sheep, pastures, Mary Poppins, the Queen, James Bond and the National Health Service paint a composite picture of something I am unaware of.
Indeed, this year’s opening ceremonies were quite different. Uniquely British, however, the event served to confuse many across the globe.
Having said this, they were a spectacle like any other, and much like the games will be soon, the opening ceremonies came, and went.
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.