Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The “Oh, No” Olympics

The Olympics kicks off on Friday evening, and I’m sure I’ll watch a bit of the opening ceremony, if only to see how it stacks up against the pretty darned crazy opening ceremony for the London Olympics four years ago. I also get a kick out of seeing the outfits each country is wearing. Beyond that, I probably won’t watch much of anything.I’ll keep an eye on the the American medal count, I suppose. (USA! USA!) But I just don’t find the Olympics, especially the summer games, all that interesting. Sure, I like the against-all-odds human interest stories, especially those about athletes from really poor countries. And, of course, I want “us” to win, even though I can’t name more than a couple of members on Team USA (Gabby Douglas, Ali Raisman). But mostly I’m turned off by too much hype, too may pros. 

But even though I haven’t been following what’s happening all that closely, from what I’m hearing this edition of The Games could be really something. And not necessarily in the showcasing Brazil and/or thrill of victory/agony of defeat senses.

As of Monday, some of the venues aren’t yet ready. The water is so befouled that open water swimmers are being told not to put their heads under water. There’s fear of zika buzzing around, and some athletes – mostly professional golfers – have pulled out because of it. A number of members of the Russian squad have been banned for doping. And the robberies of athletes have already begun. A Chinese athlete was vomited on. This was a diversionary tactic. He ended up being robbed, as were the photographers accompanying him.

Then there was the fire in the building housing the Australian team. While they were evacuating the premises, there rooms were pillaged. Among the items taken? Zika-proof shirts.

Let the games begin!

Rio, with its juxtaposition of glitter/glam/wealth with the abject poverty of its favelas, is a high crime city, so the robberies are no surprised. Visitors are being warned to be very careful where they walk.

While the Olympics-relate robberies chronicled up to now have goofy elements – the vomit diversion, the zika-proof shirts – the most bizarre thing I’ve read about the Olympics is that the opening ceremony will supposedly include a simulated robbery.This was reported in The Boston Globe on Monday. Okay. Maybe the word “reported” is too strong a word. In an item in a celebrity news/gossip column, it was reported gossiped:

We hear that Gisele Bundchen will star in a bizarre scene in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. Deadspin reported that the strange segment, revealed during a recent dress rehearsal, features Tom Brady’s supermodel wife being assaulted and robbed, but ends on a happy note. Here’s how Brazil’s UOL described the scene in which Bunchden is “assailed”:

“Another curiosity was on account of a passage where Gisele Bundchen, parading to the sound of “The Girl From Ipanema,” was approached by an actor on the scene that resembled a robbery. In the end, however, occurred the message was of peace.”

After the simulated mugging, Bundchen reportedly takes pity on the young perpetrator and ends up protecting him, according to media reports. (Source: Boston Globe)

Us podunk locals are, of course, ever-eager to consume any info on either one half or the whole of our power couple, our glamour puss duo. “Our” Tom Brady, quarterback (from game five on anyway; that’s when his suspension ends) of the New England Patriots and his Brazilian super-model wife, Gi.

But what the heck are the organizers doing with “our” Gi. If you were a crime-ridden country, would you be showcasing a crime? With arguably one of your most famous citizens as the victim?

From what I recall of the quite out-there opening ceremony of the London Olympics, they focused on the foundation of the National Health System, James Bond, chimney sweeps, and a parachute-in from someone impersonating the Queen of England. There may have been coal miners in the mix, but I don’t remember anything that highlighted some of the less glorious aspects of British life or history.

This would be like a Chicago Olympics that highlighted gang-related murders. Or a Russian Olympics glorifying the Gulag (or doping).

I’m all for transparency. I don’t like denial. I don’t want people slapping a smiley face over problems. But that doesn’t mean that you have to air your dirty laundry when your country’s on global display.

Maybe the robber is a poor kid from the favela, and that’s why Gi forgives him. As opposed to a member of one of Rio’s notoriously violent gangs. 

Anyway, I won’t be able to resist watching the opening ceremony. For me, the games will probably begin and end there.

Nonetheless: USA, USA. And, since she’s a local girl: Ali, Ali, Ali!

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