Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Olympic spirit

Honestly guys, just quit while you're behind. This Olympic torch debacle needs to be stopped.

I love the Olympics a great deal more than your average person. When I was really ill back in 1999, the thought of the Sydney Olympics in 2000 was a strange sort of encouragement to me. OK, so I might still be ill and stuck in the house but at least I'd have a month or so of amazing sport to soak up from the sofa.

The Olympics are unique. So many countries; so many sports; all meeting together to compete for the greatest prizes and provide a sporting spectacle like no other. Please note: a sporting spectacle.

I've been nervous about Beijing being awarded the games from the off. I believe that the decision to hold the games there was a political one and that it has set the scene for a potentially disastrous Olympics where the world's focus will not be on the sporting talent on show, but on the political actions of the Chinese government.

I won't pretend to know all the ins and outs of the Tibet situation but from what I've heard it seems fairly clear that China are knee-deep in a volatile and violent situation which they are exacerbating. Many people feel understandably strongly about this and they have a right to protest. I disagree with the way in which many have done so, but behind the headlines there are plenty of protesters using the Olympics and the relay in particular to make their voices heard, but peacefully with respect for the Games and the competitors. That's fine by me. Sport is a great tool for change but it should never be used at the expense of the sport itself.

Sadly this is the situation in which we find ourselves currently. Pictures of gangs of security guards and policemen surrounding the torch are doing nothing to bring the Olympic spirit to the world. Extinguishing the flame and sticking it on a bus? Absurd. Carrying on regardless will only damage the tournament more. China seem intent on carrying out their ridiculous plan to take the torch through Tibet and up to Mount Everest. It is utter folly. Mark it down as a lesson learned and get yourselves sorted for when the games actually begin. Either that or they need to get themselves out of Tibet.

On a slightly lighter note... what the Dickens were Denise Van Outen and Konnie Huq doing carry the torch? It's celebrity gone mad. In case you missed my point earlier: the Olympics is about sport! Is it so shocking to suggest that only sports-people take part in the relay?

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