vrijdag 22 juni 2018

Enlightened Corners – The Russia 2018 World Cup


21 June 2018

London 2012 – A 'Festival Of Light'

By contrast, the London 2012 Olympic Games' opening ceremony was widely hailed as 'a masterpiece'. For The Daily Telegraph it was 'brilliant, breathtaking, bonkers and utterly British'. The BBC's chief sports writer Tom Fordyce commented: 'no-one expected... it would be quite so gloriously daft, so cynicism-squashingly charming and, well, so much pinch-yourself fun'.
'Cynicism', which certainly had been 'squashed', was off the agenda. In an article titled, 'Festival of Light', The Times preached from a patriotic pulpit:
'From London these next few weeks will come joy in a time of trouble, will come spectacular feats and great human dramas, will come triumph and will come tears. The great dream of the Olympic founders, that the Games would eliminate war, was naive. But they can at least unite us in common endeavour. Mankind has many moments of great darkness, but this will be a festival of light.
'Yesterday's opening ceremony was a triumph. Adventurous, self-confident, playful, entertaining and all with a sense of history. It was suffused, in other words, with the spirit of the Games to come... Festival of Light: Great feats of athletic ability; great unscripted stories of triumph and disaster; a great sense of national spirit. Britain will rise to a shining occasion... For our country, as well as the athletes from around the world, this is a time to shine.'
This was a time to exalt in Britain's greatness, 'a time to shine'. It was not a time to sneer at 'our' great wars of aggression.
In an article titled, 'Let's build on the triumph and hope of Danny Boyle's night', the Observer's editors also waxed lyrical on the opening ceremony:
'Sport has a special hold on the imagination. This is sport of the most special kind. We didn't drop the torch. We didn't foul up or shrink from the daring option. We put creativity first. Now, why on earth should all that go hang when it's all over?'
The Observer sought out any remaining readers not yet reduced to tears of patriotic joy:
'It sought to sum up a country - a very multicultural land manifestly - which had played a full part in world literature, world construction, world invention (even if very few of those feats are taught in our core curriculum these days). It was anxious to show us, in short, that we'd mattered - and hint that we could perhaps matter again.' (Leading article, 'London 2012: Let's build on the triumph and hope of Danny Boyle's night,' The Observer, 29 July 2012)
Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian:
'Here too the opening ceremony set the tone, suggesting that we should love the country we have become – informal, mixed, quirky – rather than the one we used to be.'
Freedland soared on a reverie of poetic possibility. The Olympics had offered hope of a place 'where patriotism is heartfelt, but of the soft and civic rather than naked and aggressive variety; a place that welcomes visitors from abroad and cheers louder for the Turkish woman who came last in a 3,000m steeplechase heat than it did for the winner.
'This is the Britain we let ourselves see these past two weeks. It will slip from view as time passes, but we are not condemned to forget it. We don't have to be like the long-ago poet who once wrote: "Did you exist? Or did I dream a dream?"'
The sublime, lovely and inspirational were everywhere in reviews of the London 2012 opening ceremony and Games.
Three weeks before the ceremony, Amnesty International published a report, 'Libya: Rule of law or rule of militias?', based on the findings of an Amnesty visit to Libya in May and June 2012.
The militias, Amnesty reported, were now 'threatening the very future of Libya and casting a shadow over landmark national elections... They are killing people, making arbitrary arrests, torturing detainees and forcibly displacing and terrorizing entire communities... They are also recklessly using machineguns, mortars and other weaponry during tribal and territorial battles, killing and maiming bystanders. They act above the law, committing their crimes without fear of punishment.'
Amnesty added:
'The entire population of the city of Tawargha, estimated at 30,000, was driven out by Misratah militias and remains scattered across Libya, including in poorly resourced camps in Tripoli and Benghazi.'
None of this was up for discussion by Britain's sports writers and broadcasters, nor even by its political commentators. It would have been deemed as outrageous for journalists to mention UK realpolitik then as it would for them to not make at least some passing reference to brutal Russian realpolitik now.
DE

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