Saturday, August 16, 2008

A word about the Olympics

I'm jaded on the Olympics.
I don't know what did it.

I wasn't bothered that the fireworks display was 'fixed up' so it'd appear brighter and bigger.

I was annoyed, but not all that surprised, given China's nature, that they pulled a bait-n-switch with the endearing little girl that lip-synced at the Olympics.

But the Chinese girl's gymnastics team did me in.

Nobody really believes these girls are old enough to be in the Olympics. They don't look 16. They look like the pre-pubescent 13-year-olds everyone suspects them to be. And it's not that they won the gold in the team events that upsets me. It's the aura of deceit that the Chinese are pulling, an aura that other nations and the Olympic Committee is helping uphold. The age on the passport is the only thing that matters, and they are holding to that caveat as an excuse to not investigate the allegations that three of the members on the Chinese gymnastics team may be too young.

Are we really surprised though?

This is a nation that starts training before the kids even get to be kids. They live in training camps and faciilties and their entire lives are sports. It's not enough to be good, they have to be great. And if, at 13, a girl can win the gold, what is it to change the age on a passport in a nation who's government is involved in every aspect of an Olympiad's life? If a 13 year old is better than a 16 year old because she is lighter, limber, less 'mature' physcially, than what is it to change a number?

I think our girls are great. They are world-class, and I think they can hold their own against girls a few years younger, but the truth is, it's not okay, and it's not right, because we don't let our 13 year olds compete for very good reasons. If we're keeping our best athletes home because they aren't the correct age, is it really 'okay' to let other nation's get away with it?

And, if it isn't (which it's not) why won't the Olympic Committee do something about it, investigate it, find out the truth?

They won't, because in an event that is supposed to have nothing to do with politics, politically, it would be a huge slap to the Chinese if it's found they lied, and politically, slapping the host-nation of the Olympics isn't a good idea.

And that is why I'm jaded on the Olympics.
Because this Olympics, more so than any other, is all about the politics.

The Chinese girls who are most likely too young to be performing will win their medals. The American girls who win their medals will pretend to not have an opinion about whether or not the girls were too young, because it IS all about the competition for them, but it will be in their minds... what if they got to compete against the 16 year olds....

In soome sports we'll dominate, in others, we won't, and Phelps will be hyped up for being the most winningest athlete ever, (he's part merman, didn't you know?), and the Olympics will fade from our minds as fast as they dominated our television screens, but the sour taste that the aura of deception the Chinese left won't fully fade.

It's just a reminder that this nation is a nation who shows you only a careful mask. What you see is never what you'll get. I think it'd be good to remember the olympics for the future... because the Chinese are becoming big players in the world. It would be wise to deal with both the mask and what is behind it as well.


Sanya said...

Meh, if you don't think our female gymnast Olympians weren't training ten hours a day when they were thirteen... you're deluding yourself, darling.

With that said, the disregard for the rules is genuinely breathtaking. All the international competition data had those girls as much younger just a year ago. I guess the Chinese government is counting on Westerners not recognizing Chinese names and faces.

RainyPM said...

Age falsification in gymnastics isn't a new thing:

What's amazing to me is that although it happens all the time, it was only punished in one case. Apparently this isn't a very important rule to the committee.

And I agree with everything you said. I was trying not to let it bother me, but it really bothers me that in the case of the tie between the American and the Chinese on the uneven bars, the Chinese girl won the gold. If it IS an advantage to be lighter and smaller, which I believe it is, then the gold should go to the American, who scored the same score at what could be considered a "handicap."

Cheaters are just so very annoying. If the Americans were the cheaters I'd be ashamed of our team, even if we won.

RainyPM said...

Here's that link again, but shorter: