On mutant birds and decisions on other people’s health

A while ago I discussed the marvels of the first interesting games for a while. By now we should all know that Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin didn’t exactly have at heart what the Olympic Charter states as the International Olympic Committee mission(s).

You can check in wikipedia, a beautiful long list of mission statements, what high goals for humankind! A small cup of ‘encouragement’, and a teaspoon of ‘cooperation’, but all in all, the most preposterous missions are the ones not related to sports itself:

  1. to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes;

To oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes? C’mon! As far as commercial abuse goes, the 1996 Coca-Cola games topped the list.

And where is the political abuse opposition? I was just listening to an interview to author Anton Rippon, Hitler’s Olympics: The Story of the 1936 Nazi Games, and he rose quite a few good points.

If you check the countries where the Olympics have been held, it seems that political problems, tyrannies and dictatorships have been acting as a magnet for the modern games.

The 1916 games were cancelled, but they should have taken place in Berlin. Nazi Germany finally held the summer and winter games in 1936 (!!!), WW2 Japan was meant to hold them in 1940, Soviet Moscow in 1980, Neo-con USA in 1984, and for 2008, nothing better than political hotspots, Chinese Beijing and Russian Sochi for the winter games.

The theory goes like this, if oppressed countries hold the games, only good can come out. Well, oppression has nothing but increased in China since Beijing won the race for the 2008 games, social cleaning seems to have reached a pick, censorship is rampant and they had the -PR nightmare- great idea of carrying the Olympic torch up the Everest summit, in Tibet.

I can only wait to see what the Russians have in store for as in the winter, nuclear missile dodging perhaps? Gas and petrol burning orgies? 200m threats? Bullying slalom?

As any do-gooder of our days, buried in the IOC’s mission statement, we can find the usual new-wave we-are-also-concerned-about-the-global-warming argument:

  1. to encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues, to promote sustainable development in sport and to require that the Olympic Games are held accordingly;

Now Hobbes, just take a look at this picture taken a few days ago:

The Chinese can ban excavations and concrete pouring at construction sites; they can shut down inefficient coal boilers, stop work at quarries, cement and concrete plants around Beijing; they can order heavy-polluting firms in the city to cut emissions by an extra 30 per cent; Beijing can try to control traffic from July and remove an estimated 1.1m vehicles off the road; they even plan to ban the exterior use of paint and other materials containing solvents (?!) and temporarily close down some furniture, car repair and printing businesses; even neighbouring provinces will also suspend or reduce production at coal-burning factories and power plants before and during the games.

But No matter what the Chinese try, pollution promises to be the main topic of discussion during the games.

Growing at an estimated 10 per cent per year is receipt for disaster –in terms of over 2h marathon runners- in a mainly coal-fuelled economy.

I wonder what IOC’s action plan to ‘encourage and support a responsible concern for environmental issues’ in Beijing has been. It has been as ineffective as the SEC, FED and FSA overseeing the subprime debacle. Bad judgement must be an inherited trait of acronyms.

Some sportsmen and women are already pulling out of the races before they even start. Arne Ljungqvist, the IOC’s top medical official, in a central bank chairman style stated that ‘the heat and humidity could prove more of a problem for athletes than pollution’.

Yeah, sure, why don’t YOU try to go jogging in town for 2 hours?

As usual in cases were you make decisions about other people’s health (or money), contradicting himself he said that events demanding high respiratory function for more than an hour could be rescheduled, depending on pollution and other factors such as heat, humidity and wind. I wonder if many records will be bit this time around. We shall see. Panem et circenses.

Until tomorrow,



One Response

  1. […] Life without Hobbes wrote an interesting post today on On mutant birds and decisions on other people’s healthHere’s a quick excerptAs any do-gooder of our days, buried in the IOC’s mission statement, we can find the usual new-wave we-are-also-concerned-about-the-global-warming argument:… […]

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