Olympic games

Paris, city of blight

You know that feeling when you haven’t seen someone for several years and when you do, you really notice the changes? Generally it is a melancholy moment: you spot the extra wrinkles, the added pounds. Occasionally it can be positive: gym-toned physique, amusing new green-and-orange hair. Lots of us had these moments as we emerged, blinking and bewildered, from the bunker of Covid. I’ve just had this same experience, but with a city. Paris. The French capital is a place that I know well. I must have visited a dozen times over the decades. I’ve seen the Louvre Pyramid go up, I’ve seen Notre-Dame go down in flames (on TV,

What does the Olympic torch have to do with Hitler?

The original Olympic Games established a basic canon of seven games unchanged over some 900 years: foot, horse and chariot races, boxing, wrestling, pankration, and pentathlon. This year’s Olympics feature 42 games, adding for the first time ‘competitive breakdancing, an urban sport that originated in the hip-hop culture of 1970s block parties in the US’. It has been ever thus since the Games were first revived in Wenlock in 1850, when soccer, cricket and quoits appeared. The first ‘Olympics’, started in Greece in 1859 – a minor, one-day event in the context of a huge agro-industrial exhibition – featured climbing the greasy pole. In 1865 a National Olympian Association was

Macron vs Putin: this summer’s Olympic battle

Dixmont, Yonne Last summer, Emmanuel Macron lashed out at France’s constitution because it prevents him from running for a third consecutive term in office. It is, he told his entourage, a ‘disastrous stupidity’. The majority of the French people would disagree. Macron’s approval ratings are dire, and a poll at the start of this month revealed that the youngest president in the history of the Fifth Republic has the support of only 7 per cent of the under-35s. Should anyone be surprised? Immigration is out of control, farmers have marched on Paris and teachers are at the end of their tether because of classroom intimidation. Anti-Semitic acts have surged since

The crazy, corrupt world of the Beijing Olympics

Gstaad OK sport fans, have you been enjoying the concentration camp Olympics? I’m sure the Uighurs in the Chinese gulag are riveted, especially watching the downhill, the trouble being that most of the one million Muslim prisoners have been issued with Equatorial Guinea-made TV sets, apparatuses that only show crocodiles swallowing humans. Joe Biden, in the meantime, has steered clear of the Games and has sent a message via pigeon to the Chinese: ‘You’re way out of line as far as King Kong is concerned and unless you sign the Schleswig-Holstein agreement do not expect any Americans to attend the première of Madame Butterfly.’ Good for you, Joe, you’ve finally

The Olympics have become a celebration of human frailty

Coronis Embracing one’s vulnerability seems to have replaced the higher, faster, stronger ethos of the Olympics. The very frailty that makes us human appears to have triumphed 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 Speccie 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

Tokyo’s doomed Olympics could be the worst yet

The Tokyo 2020/2021 Olympics, which begins on Friday, looks set to be one of the worst in the event’s history. A book detailing all the scandals and mishaps of the games would be longer then the Tales of Genji.  Won way back in 2013, it wasn’t long before allegations of suspicious payments materialised. Since then there have been: massive cost overruns, cock-ups with venues (the Olympic stadium was built without a crucible!), multiple gaffes and resignations from the principals, the relocation of the marathon, plus, of course, the one-year postponement and endless uncertainty wrought by the pandemic. The games will open under a dark cloud of public discontent. Polls have consistently shown a