Games Over

CORONIS—Embracing one’s vulnerability seems to have replaced the higher, faster, stronger emblem of the Olympics. The very frailty that makes us human seems to have won over the need to excel, or so the Games’ sponsors tell us. Not that I watched any of it. Not a single second, so help me you-know-who. I liked Sebastian Coe’s remark in last week’s Spectator about taking advice from Djokovic, who quit the mixed thus leaving his partner in the lurch. I’ve always liked and admired Coe and always mistrusted the Serb, but then I’m a small-timer where sport is concerned. One thing I’ve never done is quit, however, and I did compete on a high level in tennis, karate, even polo. Judo came later on, and I remember when I won the world championship in Brussels 2008 for the 70-year-olds and over, my coach told me just before the final, “You’re a bum fighting another bum, so if you lose, find your own way home, I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” Talk about putting pressure on the poor little Greek boy. But it worked, and to us old-timers it’s called tough love.

The Spartan mothers said something similar to their sons when they went off to war: “I tan I epi tas.” With it, or on it, meaning the shield. Today American female pundits would probably demand jail for such mothers, cowardice and solipsism having replaced courage and self-sacrifice. The Olympics as a universal idea is now a crock, the Games having fallen from grace through their corruption (only FIFA is worse) and their commerciality. Seventy-three percent of their revenue comes from broadcasting, and television is the priority. I’ve attended two Olympics: Rome in 1960, the best ever, and Athens in 2004. Symbols and gestures from athletes were rare back then. My spies tell me that back in the States, TV ads were stuffed with insufferable social justice messages concerning female and trans empowerment. Thank God I was in Coronis and listening to Bob Geldof’s wisdom rather than infomercials about the mental health of minority athletes. Once the Games were over, the mental-health bandwagon rolled on because it suits the sponsors. Quitting athletes makes it easier for the sponsors to protect their product. Take the cases of Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles. They’ve never been more popular, more worshipped, more talked-about as a result of throwing in the towel. As an American female pundit put it, “Black women backing out is powerful.” What utter crap.

Sir Bob Geldof the Wise says that these were virtual games. That athletes, like rock stars, cannot perform with the same intensity and passion in front of empty seats. Yet the Brits did it, as did the Chinese, Japanese, Italians, and Russians. The Americans were humbled in certain sports, and the women’s soccer team has proved itself the worst ambassador ever, being obnoxious, selfish, boorish, and unsportsmanlike. If a gold medal for using foul language existed, the American female athletes would have swept the field.

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