From the Cheap Seats 17th July 2016


About the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, protests range, and rage, from claims of Brazilian government malfeasance, to high crime rates and related danger to camera-dangling tourists.


Numerous grim, head-shaking reports warn of the immense state of unreadiness for anything approaching a major sporting event. The latter dire warnings are often accompanied by scenic vistas of gravel on the sites of what will purportedly be Olympic sporting venues in the very near future.


Also, they had a little technical snafu in Rio recently, where a variety of body parts – notably unattached to the body or bodies concerned – floated in on the coast right where the beach volleyball is to be staged. This no doubt put a crimp in any plans by local officials to declare:  “Not only a world class sporting facility, but just look at the view!”


At risk of seeming a Sally Sunshine type, the thing to remember here is that we’ve heard a lot of this song being sung before.


(Not so much the truncated segments of dead people, admittedly. Also, the Zika Virus certainly adds a new wrinkle to proceedings. Anyway, the Russians are still dying to show up. Sorry, poor choice of words. And country.)


But thinking back to not long before the Athens 2004 games, the general if not universal tenor of preliminary reports was that most of everything verged on the spectacularly incomplete, the left hand didn’t seem to know what the right foot was doing, and there were a lot of piles of rocks and rather less evidence of anyone putting them together in a way that might achieve buildings.


The Greek economy was presumably also well on its way to doing some serious work towards achieving a giant exploding fandango of insolvency.


In the end, the event went ahead successfully, the venues were apparently complete, some even with roofs on them, and everyone forgot about all the rubble, people leaning idly against bulldozers, and suchlike warm-up activities.


The International Olympic Committee no doubt declared at the time that this was the Best Olympics Ever, which is something the IOC goes ahead and says at more or less every Olympics. One gathers there’s starter button installed on major IOC officials so that journos can save time – they just push it and the quote comes out automatically.


Regarding the Brazilian Government, and the various inequities and iniquities that prevail in Rio and beyond, it perhaps bears remembering some of the other countries to host Olympic Games.


From memory, the majestic preamble to the Sochi winter games involved massive dog culls and forcibly herding the indigent out of the way of the scenery. There was China. Come to think of it, Nazi Germany.


One additional thought. In the final analysis, hosting the 2004 Games didn’t seem to result in an economy-saving cornucopia of riches for Greece. Maybe the Brazilian Government never got around to reading that folder when they were signing off on the Rio bid.



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