Field Theory by Hadyn Green

33

Out of the Blocks

I am a huge Olympic fan.

I was watching the Daily Show the other night (via the free full episodes they stream) and John Stewart totally stole the joke I was going to use to open my Olympic postings:

“Are you ready to catch Olympic fever? Actually it doesn’t have to be the Olympics for you catch it. Seriously, stay away from their pigs and birds”

Naturally he said it better than I could.

During the Sydney games I parked myself in Shadows (the student pub at Auckland Uni) and drank and watched the games for most of the day (the parts where I didn’t have lectures, obviously).

During the Athens games I watched everything I could, but was annoyed that I couldn’t pull down more information.

Now, here we are in 2008. The Future.

This weekend I had the TV going with TVNZ’s coverage of the women’s hockey, my laptop streaming men’s gymnastics, Amy’s laptop streaming weightlifting. I felt like some kind of super villain sitting in his control booth. But like any super villain, I wanted more, more! MORE!

I checked NBC.com to see if I could somehow get some of the feeds they were advertising. However, even after downloading Microsoft’s Silverstream, pretending to live in the States (you’re all invited to my house in LA to watch my DIRECT TV Cable) the video wouldn’t play.

Even the TVNZ feeds won’t play if you’re overseas.

I understand the television market stuff, but it does seem to screw ex-pats. And what about our troops stationed overseas? Surely we’re all doing it for them?

Before the games started there were a lot of people asking about whether or not China should have been awarded the Olympics based on their human rights record. I’m not going to defend China on this, but what would we be complaining about if any of the other countries who bid for the 2008 games got their wish?

First of all finding a country's record on human rights is not the easiest of things. So I defaulted to Amnesty International's descriptions.

Japan put in a bid for Osaka. They would’ve been slammed on war crimes or the covering up of said crimes, the role of women in their society, but mainly for the whaling.

France put in a bid for Paris. Ummm, they’re bad to immigrants, but I’m sure it’ll be the nuclear tests that’ll bite them in the ass.

Turkey put in a bid for Istanbul. Wow, imagine the uproar if this went ahead.

But the runner-up to host the 2008 summer Olympics was… Canada (Toronto). Canada is just so damn nice. It’s the antithesis of China. Even Amnesty International only really calls them up on the fact that the police use tasers and they are a bit mean to indigenous people. But they just so damn nice, eh.

So perhaps when the venue was being selected human rights wasn’t at the top of the voters’ agenda.

There also seems to be some local anger towards the Olympics or perhaps a chance to highlight issues. Or at least that’s how I’m interpreting the two attacks (that we know of) on foreigners. A TVNZ commentator was attacked with a broken chair and suffered minor injuries and then a man and his wife (with links to the the American volleyball coach and New Zealand) were stabbed by a man who then jumped to his own death. Will a death at the hands of a Chinese “radical” draw attention to the plight of the average Chinese person or be more a reason for the police to crack down on the population?

So while the debate about human rights seems to have died away now that the competition has started, it can still be felt bubbling under the surface.

It should be pointed out that there were five other teams who did not make the final round: Bangkok; Cairo; Havana; Kuala Lumpur; and Seville. Wouldn’t the Havana games have been fantastic?

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Here is the list of sports I managed to watch this weekend in my control booth.

  • Weightlifting (women’s two categories)
  • Cycling road race (men’s and women’s)
  • Archery (women’s team)
  • Artistic gymnastics (men’s and women’s team)
  • Men’s and women’s swimming heats and final’s (400m individual medley, 100m breaststroke)
  • Women’s hockey
  • Basketball (men’s and women’s)
  • Handball (women’s)
  • Soccer (men’s and women’s)
  • Equestrian (dressage)
  • Synchronised diving (women’s 3m springboard)
  • Boxing
  • Rowing

That’s not a bragging list by the way more of a stock take.

During the New Zealand women’s hockey match against the Japanese (which was fantastic by the way), Jaimee Claxton, was wearing a makeshift armband that said: “4 Dad”. Does anyone know why?

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The one thing that’s been driving me batty is the commentators complaining about everything, especially the weather. It’s too hot, it’s rainy, too humid, too hot, too misty, too smoggy, too everything.

During the hockey one commentator complained that:

before I came to Beijing I was told that it would rain twice a week. Well I’ve been here [a week] and this is the first time it’s rained!

Yes, he was complaining that his weather rule of thumb wasn’t working.

During two different sports I have heard commentators say that while it may look clear on the television, visibility is actually really poor. And to be fair it was quite bad at the rowing, where from the start you couldn’t see the finish. Lucky they travel backwards in a straight line then.

Then were ones (and it was plural) who complained about the “mist, haze and smog, though it’s hard to tell which is which”. So there may actually be no smog then? Not if you’re talking to Pete Montgomery (bless his overactive mouth).

Maybe the commentators should just toughen up a little. Maybe they should think about the athletes who usually have travel from really hot countries to “colder” ones for the Olympics.

But it is interesting to point out that despite the “athletes will suffer because of the conditions” rhetoric, world records have still been broken. One of those records was broken in the driving range on the archery range by the Italian team (and possibly again by the South Koreans). And I just watched the American's smash another in the pool now (I'll post about Mr Phelps later on).

And the rain wasn’t the only thing the archers had to put up with. In between rounds the sound system blasted out bad Chinese pop music. At least the Swimmers got to listen to faux-rock.

The only athletes so far whose complaints I shall indulge are the dressage riders (and horses). Why did they have to wear the full get-up in that heat? Where are the Nike light-weight sports top hats?

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