Friday, 8 August 2008

Sport, smog, rights and elaborate opening ceremonies

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In around half an hour's time the Olympic opening ceremony will begin in Beijing, though of course it remains to be seen whether it will be, well, seen, by anyone through the smog.

Either way, what are perhaps the most controversial games since Berlin in 1936 will have officially opened with the standard absurdly extravagant extravaganza and, in between the actual sport, we'll be constantly reminded of the human rights issues and commentators (hopefully not the sporting ones) will continue to question whether China should have been awarded the games in the first place.

But, as our current cover story points out, the Olympics (and sport in general) have long been shrouded in politics, religion and money, and the real question is whether the event itself can shine through the smog and ideology.

It's a sporting feast, even if half the sports are niche to say the least, and I for one will be watching.

Oh, and if anyone wants to see how an Olympic opening ceremony shouldn't proceed, follow the fate of the doves of peace in this clip from the 1988 event in Seoul. (If you want to speed things up skip to around 4mins)