Monday, March 24, 2008

odiously chauvinistic and military

Malcolm blinked at the television feed of the lighting of the Olympic flame: not because it was so naff and stage-y, but because of the conflicts of symbolism.

On the one hand there are the pronouncements of peace and international harmony. On the other, heavy-handed policing of demonstators.

Yet, behind all that is the ultimate irony, and one deliberately forgotten by all those who run these things.

The Olympic flame had appeared at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, but the nonsense of the torch relay was a creation of one, Albert Speer, as part of the 1936 Berlin charade, and the glorification of Nazism it involved.

Maurice Roche says of the Berlin Olympics:
At the opening ceremony the recorded voice of Baron de Coubertin was relayed, Hitler declared the games open, and the legendary winner of the first modern Olympic marathon, Spiridon Louis, who led the Greek team, presented him with a symbolic olive branch from Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games in Greece... At the opening ceremony the symbolic Olympic flame was dramatically lit for the first time ever by a torch from the torch relay carrying a flame originally lit at Olympia. The world's biggest ever aircraft, the 300-metre long Hindenburg airship flew over the stadium and the city trailing huge flags. At night Hitler's architect Albert Speer cfreated impressive new dramatic 'light architecture' effects with powerful searchlights over the stadium, which echoed his similar 'theatre of power' effects at the 1934 Nuremberg rally...

Finally the organisers were able to make use of the development of media technologies to make the Berlin Olympics a distinctive and notable 'media event'. Firstly, it was something of a minor TV event in the city of Berlin since, for the first time a major sport event was shown to the public by means of closed-circuit TV transmitted to over twenty viewing rooms around the city and seen by over 150,000 people over the course of the event. Second, and more importantly, it was a major radio 'media event', being broadcast around the world to what was estimated to be the biggest ever international radio audience. However, in spite of all its achievements, a contemporary observer of the Berlin Olympics, Peter Wilson, a British journalist, felt that 'the prevailing air was ... odiously chauvinistic and military'.
Nothing has greatly changed since 1936.

Malcolm finds the whole tone of international sport so flag-wavingly militaristic it is war by other means. The hosting of these events becomes increasingly shrill and nationalistic.

When the party-pooping demonstrator, in a good cause, disrupts the rising-tide of nuttery they should be cheered. Sphere: Related Content

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