The Sydney Summer Olympics
An Exercise in Political Imagery
15 September 2000
Did you watch the opening ceremony? Those
of us who have watched our share of such happenings over
the years, realized
20 minutes into the event that it was going to be marked
by everything we have learned to associate with Summer-Olympic
pomp and circumstance. The huge cheering crowds, the expensive
background props, the surreal dancing themes (I'm sure
they must have had some kind of meaning, at least for Australians),
the boring speeches and the panoramic views were all there,
making up the usual Olympic spectacle.
Present, too, were
all the symbols of political imagery which have been part
of Olympic events since their conception in
ancient Greece, and throughout decades of modern history.
The officials, the flags, the banners, the security, the
sponsors and the PR were all visible during the ceremony.
Another hugely expensive diplomatic exercise is undoubtedly
underway "Down Under".
And what are we to expect
during the next couple of weeks? Sure, there will be the
excitement of sporting competition,
the national pride in victory and the humiliation in defeat
that is inevitably part of the show. There'll be the usual
doping scandals and numerous weird happenings. But penetrating
all that, there will be political and diplomatic ups and
downs that will spice up the events. For, their sporting
passion aside, the Olympics constitute the world's largest
political exercise. It has the ability to transmit powerful
messages, to enhance ideologies and expose administrative
scandals. Some of these happenings have already appeared:
the Australians' use of Aboriginal themes during the opening
ceremony in an attempt to reconcile with the racist crimes
that gave birth to the colony and its culture; the marching
of the athletes of the Korean peninsula under one flag
and under the watchful eyes of the American diplomatic entourage;
the appearance of the semi-independent Timorese team, marching
on the soil of the country that betrayed their trust during
the 1974 Indonesian invasion. These were all events that
are bound to be passionately debated around the world.
at the News Insider we'll be closely watching the Sydney
Olympics. And, who knows, amidst all the action, we might
even get to enjoy some of the sports.
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