Why didn’t the Australian Crime Commission investigate doping in Olympic sports as well as “the big five”, rugby league, rugby union, AFL, cricket and soccer?
The Organised Crime and Drugs in Sport report released yesterday noted how professional Aussie sport was “highly vulnerable to organised crime infiltration through legitimate business relationships with sports franchises and other associations”.
But nowhere in the report were the Olympics even mentioned. The report examined case studies involving Rugby League and the AFL. And yesterday’s press conference extended to Rugby Union, league, AFL, cricket and soccer. The report mentioned how sport had become a highly profitable exercise at global and international levels. According to ABS statistics from 2006, sport generates $8.82 billion per year.
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In the late 1960’s, the great Italian thinker Umberto Eco cast his gaze over the World Cup and the Olympic Games and was troubled by what he saw. Forty years on, his analysis of professional sport remains just as valid, perhaps even more acutely so.
Sport is a waste - but what a glorious waste it is. If I fling a stone for the sheer pleasure of flinging it, and not for any utilitarian end, I have wasted kilojoules accumulated by eating, and earned by work. Now, this waste is profoundly healthy. It is the waste necessary for play. And humanity has a deep physical and mental need for play.
Play means being free. The mantra of the early trade unionists was: “And on the seventh day, they played sport. Just for the sheer pleasure of it.”. That eight hours recreation symbolises something, it symbolises modern society’s freedom from the tyranny of indispensable work.
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There should really be two Olympic Games. Not because the Olympics are terrific, but because they’re an increasingly meaningless measure of human achievement.
The first Olympics could be limited almost exclusively to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and France. On the grounds of fairness, you could broaden the list of competitor nations to include other athletes from advanced economies such as Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Australia.
The second Olympics – let’s call it the meaningful Olympics – would be contested by the rest of the world. Mali, Guatemala, Chad, Uzbekistan, Laos, Fiji, all of them competing for the first time in years on something that actually resembles a level playing field.
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As far as missiles go, James “The Missile” Magnussen is a bit like the rocket they tried to launch in North Korea a few months ago which made a fizzing sound and ended up lying on the tarmac.
If the Olympics are meant to teach us life lessons the lesson from Magnussen’s failure is a very old-fashioned one, that pride comes before a fall. Not only did Magnusson fail to “medal” in the relay – to use that ludicrous verb – he is also unlikely to win any medals for being gracious in defeat. In the lead-up to London he acted as if he had one hand on the gold, grabbing the microphone and declaring “brace yourselves” after the Olympic trials back in March.
On Sunday, like that ill-fated North Korean missile, Magnussen had a hissy fit of his own with a display of pursed-lip poolside churlishness where he said he had “no response” and “no idea” as to what went wrong, before wandering off leaving his three better-performing teammates to face the music.
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In one of the world’s most impressive displays of bristling military might, the UK armed forces are creating a £600 million Olympic ‘ring of steel’ that includes installing surface-to-air missiles on apartment building rooves.
There’ll be an aircraft carrier with 800 Royal Marines, Navy ships, RAF helicopters, private security, and 13,500 service men and women – more than are deployed in Afghanistan, according to the Daily Mail.
The Thames will be filled with laser-equipped sharks. Graeme Garden will be in charge of intelligence. The Ministry of Funny Walks will train a handpicked squad of bobbies. Dad’s Army will be brought out of retirement to shepherd small children across the road.
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It’s 10 years today since the start of the Sydney Olympics, otherwise known as the greatest party ever. Flew by, didn’t it. This isn’t a long, boring treatise on the legacy of the Games, although if you want to have a whinge about white elephants, or elephants of any colour, don’t let me stop you.
I, for one, can’t believe the NSW government is blowing $45 million to revamp the Sydney Showground for the Western Sydney Battlers or whatever the new AFL team ends up being called. Wait. It’s the NSW government. Of course I can believe it.
But like I say, this isn’t a whinge piece. It’s basically just an invitation to share your memories of that wonderful time.
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