Here it is – just in time for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Peking:
The first article by our sports expert Klaus J. Wäschle:
Let me say one thing up front: I collect opening ceremonies of Olympic Games. Of course, I mean videos of the ceremonies, and both those of the summer and winter games. I am capable of watching them again and again and the producer’s ideas appeal to me. The shows of some artists are just as fascinating as the outfits of some athletes. In my opinion, the two most memorable ceremonies were those in Barcelona and Sydney.
On Friday, August, 8th, 2008, however, I will not sit in front of the TV set. It was a conscious decision of mine not to watch the opening ceremony of the games in Peking. I shall refrain from taking part in the discussion about whether or not Peking should have been selected as the venue for the games. The “Lords of the Rings” of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) probably had reasons of their own… But I do not wish to see the spectacle of a system’s fake joviality and cordiality that will disappear very soon after the athletes have departed.
I heard the IOC Vice President Dr. Thomas Bach when he spoke at an event. He appealed to the general public to stop the human rights discussion concerning China in general and with respect to Tibet in particular when talking about the Olympic Games. Instead, he wants us to look forward to the Games. Moreover, says Bach, most of those who criticize it are only self-appointed China-experts who do not really have any insight or understanding. Here we go: let us look forward on order – or at least on recommendation … Bach himself will certainly look forward to his special, personal appearance as he will be allowed to carry the Olympic Torch through Peking for some minutes.
Apparently, an employee of the Sports Information Service at Neuss, too, has been looking forward to his appearance: being one of five journalists, he had been chosen for this “honourable” task by his organization. Now, however, he has to pass on this honour. His reports were a little too positive and had put the veil of silence over most of the problems. As a consequence, he had to leave before the day X.
There was one person who was doubly happy: Dirk Nowitzki. First because he qualified for the Olympic Basketball Tournament with his team and then perhaps because he will be carrying the black-red-golden banner during the Opening Parade. I understand him, because for an athlete, it is still one of the greatest goals in life to participate in a tournament that only takes place every four years. Nowitzki only succeeded in doing this after several attempts, regardless of all his success as a professional and extremely well-paid player in the USA. He has every reason to be delighted.
The same is true for Rainer Schüttler. After reaching the semi-finals in Wimbleton, the professional tennis player from Korbach in Hesse managed to secure for himself a last-minute ticket for the Olympic Train. He even had to fight for his right to start in court – and won. Who knows, perhaps he will again partner with Nicola Kiefer, reach the finals and then win. Four years after the unforgettable finals of Athens, where they narrowly missed the championship after five sets. I would rejoice for him!
Regardless of their professionalism: for an overwhelming majority of athletes, the Olympic Idea is still the prevailing sentiment. It is more important to participate than to win. After all, there are almost 11,000 athletes competing for a total of 302 gold medals in 28 disciplines. Even if you take into consideration that there are 16 or even more gold medals for the winning soccer, hockey or other teams, there is no doubt that many athletes must leave empty-handed.
It can happen after very narrow victories or due to hopeless inferiority. The final lists of results will not make a huge difference. It is said that the winner of the silver medal is already the first loser. Personally, I consider this absolute nonsense. Because if you came in second among the eight fastest men in the world on the 100-metres distance, you have been a huge success and accomplished extremely much. But sometimes the athlete himself is not happy with being second best and shows it clearly, too. And that is something I will again watch, along with the winner’s delight. That is something I can do even without having watched the Opening Ceremony.
My private renunciation of the live report by ARD will not have any influence on the general quota of watchers. I am sure several million people will follow the spectacular show in Germany alone – among them the Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal President Horst Köhler (who are not going to Peking in person??). They will probably see more wherever the camera moves than the on-site spectators. After all, the pictures you can see with your own eyes under the veil of smog are likely to be less precise. Even with extreme sight problems, Thomas Bach will not get lost. The security teams along the streets will show him the way.
(Translated by EG)