Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Soft Power

Poor old Liu Xiang, China's superstar hurdler, once again, barely starting the race before pulling up through injury... or was it the heavy heavy burden of expectation... or the fact that he wore unlucky no.13, not only in London but also four years ago in Beijing? Whatever, you've got to feel for him. 
I've been keeping fairly up-to-date although the time difference is obviously pretty inconvenient. Still, Alyssa & Naomi are well into it. Alyssa's even got a sticker book. Great to hear her enthusing about it on the phone just now. I just about remember Mexico 1968: the Fosbury Flop, Bob Beaman, David Hemery.. Munich was clearer: Mark Spitz, Olga Korbut, Mary Peters, USSR pipping USA in the basketball, but I have a blank about Montreal, other than Nadia Comoneci and that film of ELP playing Fanfare for the Common Man in an empty stadium a year later...
It's become such a big thing now: political, obscenely expensive, patriotic-bordering-on-nationalistic... But it's always been more than just the sport. If we continue from '68 (Black Power salute) and '72 (Black September massacre), Montreal '76 saw a boycott by most African countries because of New Zealand's participation (whose All Blacks had recently played in Apartheid South Africa), Moscow '80 saw a boycott by USA and a host of other countries because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Los Angeles '84 saw a tit-for-tat boycott by Russia and other Eastern Bloc countries, and so on... Having said that, in recent years one could argue that the Olympics have actually become less Political (with a big P) and more about cultural showcasing.

No comments:

Post a Comment