First Among Equals: The Voice


Imperial Visits: US Emissaries in the Pacific

For some time, Washington has been losing its spunk in the Pacific.…

Denying First Nations people a voice will achieve…

For some reason, I find myself yet again writing about this referendum.…

From Balloons to AUKUS: The War Drive Against…

When will this hate-filled nonsense stop? Surveillance balloons treated like evocations of…

It's frightening when you join the dots in…

By Andrew Klein In 2023 we see violence against segments of the…

Solar industry feeling the heat over disposal of…

University of South Australia Media Release The renewable energy sector is facing a…

Brits spy on master spy writer

By Andrew Lownie I have never considered myself as a dangerous radical or…

Criminals at Large: The Iraq War Twenty Years…

The arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for Russian President Vladimir…


Cultivated Delusions at the Tokyo Olympics

Australia’s Channel 7 team was all about ignoring history as its selected commentators went into describing, poorly, the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. The trio was poorly equipped culturally, geographically and totally (the Japanese component was barely credible: “We want to make things warm for you,” she chirped), to deal with the eclectic groupings of the athletes as they assembled. Clichés and platitudes clogged the commentary as each team strode into the stadium.

It would have been interesting had they noted the militaristic, political echo that follows the beginning, and end, of each Olympic Games. “In the Olympic Opening ceremony,” remarked Australia’s foremost sporting journalist Gideon Haigh in 2016, “serried ranks of well drilled, well resourced, uniformed national exemplars march behind their country’s flag. Nothing could be a more political event than that.”

And political it was. The torch relay was not, as the intoxicated romantics on the International Olympic Committee payroll claim, a creature of Greek antiquity but one of Nazi creativity. Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels were enamoured with the idea, though it was Carl Diem, secretary general of the organising committee of the 1936 Berlin games who first proposed it. That great German armaments institution, the Krupp Company, did its bit, creating and sponsoring the torches which were intended to burn for ten minutes. “The first torch manufactured,” writes German sports historian Arnd Krüger, “was used to ignite a new furnace for the production of long-range Krupp canons.”

Behind Tokyo 2020 was a sense of financed apology, with most of the Olympic commentariat bulging with self-interest in keeping this indulgent exercise on the road, even in the face of the worst global pandemic since the Spanish Influenza. This was a tournament imposed upon a populace by cadres of sporting officials, an anti-democratic, despotic, insensitive gesture based on revenue incentives and broadcasting rights. The focus had to be on the athletes, the show pony alibis, who distracted from the logisticians and backroom players.

The distraction was, at points, impressive: streamed images of torrential tears, the mingling of sweat from exhausted bodies and tormented competitors, the meeting of flags across competing tracks and ecstatic expressions of the human spirit. There was video footage of vulnerable winners and those barely defeated; sharp camera focus on such noble acts as the sharing of a gold medal between Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Mutaz Barshim of Qatar in the men’s high jump. This was flesh and feelings made substantive in film. “When people experience inwardly periods of greatness, they represent those periods through external forms,” said that man of theatre, show and murderous finality, one Adolf Hitler. “Their word thus expressed is more convincing than the spoken word: it is the word in stone.”

This was all meant to make a difference, and outside the main Olympic stadium and the venues this was taking place, Tokyo was facing an aggressive pandemic and public health restrictions. The stadium hosting the closing ceremony, from the air, looked like a capsule of insulated distraction. Those interested were watching at home; the stadium seats remained empty.

The pandemic-minded types were also far from impressed by the implications of holding the event. IOC president Thomas Bach opined that the COVID-19 infections surging in Tokyo had no links, directly or otherwise, to the Games. Tsuyoshi Masuda, head of the Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions, disagreed: “[H]olding the Olympics sent a strong message to citizens that infection control measures would become less strict.”

The budget minded types (how dare they question the uplifting image of the Games?) would certainly have raised their eyebrows at the official price tag: $15.4 billion. The calibration led to other options as to where the money might have been better spent: building 300 hospitals with 300 beds each; 1,200 elementary schools. “The problem is disentangling what is Olympics cost and what is just general infrastructure spending that would have happened anyways but ways but was sped up for the Olympics,” suggests sports economist Victor Matheson.

The bidding process itself demands that host cities and authorities will cover excess costs. “This means,” contend the authors of a study in Environment Planning, “that hosts get locked in to a non-negotiable commitment to cover such increases.”

Bach, being his usual ostensibly noble self, put the case that finance was no bar to the events. “We would have cancelled the Games 15 months ago,” he told The Associated Press. “Financially, it would have been the easiest solution for the IOC. But we decided at the time not to cancel the Games, not to draw on the insurance we had at the time.”

Such views should be treated with a healthy dose of stern scepticism. “For the IOC,” sports editorial writer for the Mainichi Shimbun Takiguchi Takashi points out, “what is important is not whether there are spectators in the stands, but that the games go ahead and are broadcast to the entire world.” Broadcasting rights constitute 70% of IOC revenue, characterised by such lucrative arrangements as that of NBCUniversal’s $12 billion payment for rights to broadcast all Olympic events from the 2014 Sochi Winter games to the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The response to the Olympics by its defenders has generally been one of cultivated delusion. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell was banking on it, given his network’s promise to broadcast 7,000 hours of the Tokyo games. From the moment the opening ceremony takes place, he insisted, “everybody forgets [concerns like COVID-19] and enjoys the seventeen days.”

This ploy has worked, at least in the past. Robert Baade and Matheson note the buoyancy that follows the holding of the games: in London 2012, for instance, there were those proud to be British and even happy to pay amounts “above any costs associated with actually attending any of the events.” Despite Japanese success in the medal tally, Tokyo 2020 promises a different story.

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

 322 total views,  2 views today


Login here Register here
  1. Neilw

    Happy to say I ignored it all.

  2. Roswell

    I’m with you, Neil. I didn’t watch any event or even read about any event. My interest factor was a fat zero.

    Some might label me as unpatriotic, but so be it. I reserve my patriotism for the cricket and my AFL team.

    I’m American born, but I’d crawl over broken glass to watch the footy and, to a lesser extent, the cricket.

  3. wam

    I recorded and watched the games and it was a terrific games, With the advantage of fast forwarding the interminable adverts and the inane commentary. These advertisers drove the program and I longed for the ABC days when we would see every athlete and every sport.
    How many of the 486 olympians and 33 sports were seen on ch7?
    I was called purile(sic) by a retired murdoch journalist for criticising his facebook post comparing our athletes with those of china america russia and the poms.
    In my peurile arrogance I countered:
    wow xxxxy you chose countries to illustrate your point, with heaps of jingoistic oi oi oi attitude, of how good we are.
    Certainly our athletes are terrific and we, as a country, usually compete well above our weight but I merely suggested that all olympians deserve our praise for the effort needed over the last 5 years. If you had chosen other countries, we are not so good by comparison. To call that ‘childlike’ is harsh
    Try this: the septics sent 613, the chinese 777, the poms 376 ROC 333(russians were banned for doping))and we sent 486 are interesting. facts for comparison?

    ps How many of those 486 were not seen on ch7? That is another matter for consideration? Remember when it was on the ABC we pretty well saw every Australian and no advertisers dictating what we see and what we wont.
    Rossleigh you missed some great sportsmanship and some marvellous efforts.
    As an americophobe I was pleasantly impressed by the american attitude on display.
    Perhaps it was down to the lack of spectators??
    And footy showed a shit team nearly beat a weak team with unfit and poorly coordinated forwards and, luckily, strong backs. We were saved by a few well timed marks from a tall BOG.

  4. Roswell

    Yeh, Rossleigh. Where’s your sense of patriotism?

  5. Andrew J. Smith

    Can you imagine those poor C7 commentators watching a sporting event historically dominated by the ‘top nations’ of the US, UK and dominions along with Europe, now becoming the domain of the lesser non European nations increasing in number…….

  6. Consume Less

    @Neilw, ditto.

  7. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. a ”nice” distraction from the incompetence and scandals of the Australian Liarbral; Nazional$ COALition misgovernment making an un mitigated mess of controlling our COVID-19 Pandemic orig9inating with the disembarkation of infected passengers from the Ruby Princess in Sydney allegedly at the direction of Scummo so that his fellow Supplecant$ of the unChristian Hell$inger$ Cult for Greed and Paedophile Protection could get home in time for lunch.

  8. Harry Lime

    As a boy at school,Iwasn’t half bad at athletics and football, and enjoyed it immensely.We all had heroes and people we admired greatly for their feats..Herb Elliot for example (trained by a lunatic) and other people of note, whom the passage of time has scraped from memory,and I/we took a keen interest in the latest records to be broken.That was a long time ago when cheating and payment was unheard of,but with the passing of the years,the invasion of ‘professionalism’ and the rise of corporatism in all it’s money grubbing splendour, it has ,like most everything that the pursuit of money engenders, turned to shit.Same for the football codes,the players are no more than employees of corporations in a restricted environment,the rules a fucking raffle.
    Back to the just finished olympics..apparently the IOC (Idiot Overbearing C*#nts) have sway over National governments,just like those other transnational corporations that set the rules and pay no tax.Although I admit I enjoyed the traditional Aths and swimming,for example,it was extremely hollow without spectators,never mind the dickhead commentators.Skateboarding? Synchronised Drowning? Flinging the Ribbon? What next ,Ballroom Dancing?The 200m Foxtrot…,Darts? At least it was a temporary diversion from the ongoing trashing of our country.

  9. BB

    It was Channel 7, you weren’t expecting any actual semblance of intelligent broadcasting or commentary were you?

  10. Brozza

    @BB – no, my expectations re: commentary were never exceeded. The olympics for the most part was a bit like listening to the ultra jingoistic commentary one has to put up with when watching a Matilda’s or Socceroo’s home game. Totally cringe-worthy.

  11. Pagnol

    Hi there Harry Lime. Apparently the host nation can introduce new events to the games. In 2032 given our current situation and the performance of the Morrison government we could introduce shitfuckery ( apologies to Juice Media).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: