DIDN'T GET IT! We didn't get it! We just didn't get it! I'm so goddamned happy that we didn't get it! Because you know, if we'd gotten it, we'd end up having to take it -- right up the keyster, as they say. But we didn't get it so, really, there's no reason why we should have to take it. Up
the keyster. Except that there are a lot of people here who still don't
get it, and now that we didn't get it, they're going to push for us to
try again, to get it, and they don't care how long it takes to get it,
as long as we do. And then we'll really have to take it. Up the keyster.
They just don't get it.
I'm talking about the Olympics. As you may have heard
by now, Beijing was the winning bidder for the 2008 Olympic games, beating
Toronto and Paris for the "honour" of hosting the international festival
of corporate sponsorship and drug testing. And sport -- amateur sport.
Played by commercially endorsed professional athletes. Right. Well, at
least Toronto did better than Paris at something.
I hate to sound so harsh about the old Olympic games but
I haven't felt right about them since Munich, probably. I remember Montreal,
ironically, with some fondness, but after that -- well. Steroids, hormones,
political boycotts, NBC, Nike, Pepsi, beach volleyball, you name it --
I'm hardly a big sports fan, but at the end of the day, at least you know
wrestling is fixed.
I feel bad for the athletes. This is it for them -- the
last, best arena where they can prove themselves as shot-putters, javelin-throwers, rhythmic gymnasts, sprinters, tri-athletes, you name it. (I don't feel bad, however, for the U.S. Olympic basketball team -- along with hockey,
the worst violation of the Olympic spirit of amateurism in the name of
commerce since, probably, "Nadia's Song".) I mean, I'm sure winning a medal
-- even just competing -- in the games was proof that you were among the
best, a chance to gauge yourself next to the best in the world. Nowadays,
most people assume you got there thanks to a relentless national athletics
program funded by advertising partnerships and a fistful of performance-enhancing drugs, and that your medal is just plated tin if you don't get an endorsement deal from Nike, Reebok, or Adidas, at the very least. The rising tide of cynicism has overwhelmed everything good about the Olympics.
I suppose it was possible, once, to host an Olympic games
without selling your city, or country's, soul for the privilege. I suppose
that hasn't been possible since Berlin in 1936. Montreal went into debt
a billion dollars for their 1976 games, and they still haven't paid off
$300 million of that. They're still totalling up the figures for Sydney.
It's like the credit card binge that haunts you to your grave.
Toronto, let it be known, was willing to hock everything
-- our future, our autonomy as the richest city in the country -- to get
the games. Or rather, a cabal of politicians and developers were willing
to sell the family farm -- our family farm -- for the chance to rake off
profits, fast-track development deals and subsidize construction. They
might still do it. We already have one moribund sports facility that went
into debt and needed a bailout from public money -- I can only imagine
what they might have done with a velodrome, a rowing course, a pool. Hell,
I bet they'd have levelled parkland for beach volleyball, just to use the
land for condos when it was all over. I wish I was joking, but I'm not
-- these people are capable of anything.
The cutback-happy provincial government has been devoted
to strip-mining the city for its tax base since they got into power, and
they'd worked out a clever provision in their Olympic agreement that would
have ceded control to them if it went over-budget, which was as certain
as Dick Cheney's next heart attack.
But we didn't get it. And I'm as happy as a
Frenchman with a chainsaw.