Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Theatre of the Olympics

The ubiquitous protests spinning in advance of the Chinese Olympics serve as a good reminder of how much theatre is involved in the institution. Now it's because of the Chinese crackdown in Tibet and China's growing power on the world stage. In 1980, the USA boycotted the Soviet Olympics because of the invasion of Afghanistan. The Eastern Bloc retaliated by boycotting the American Olympics in 1984. If the USA was hosting them this year, there would be boisterous protests of American involvement in Iraq and -- haha -- Afghanistan. It's nationalistic theatre. And corporate sponsorship. And only lastly sports.

Still, things could be worse. Consider the 1916 Berlin Olympics -- cancelled. Why? All those pesky U-Boats, I suppose, in the middle of the Great War. Or it could be the Nazi Olympics of 1936 -- held in Berlin after all. Or the Tokyo Olympics, cancelled due to the invasion of Manchuria. London was out in 1944 due to the Blitz and all that jazz. The entire Cold War period saw the injection of pomp and systemic imperial rivalries. Let's not forget the Mexican Army shooting down hundreds of students at the Tlatelolco Massacre and Black Power salutes at the 1968 Olympics. Or the Palestinian attack on Munich's Olympic Village in 1972.

Yes, it could be worse. Let the games begin! Unfortunately, we've got nearly four months to go before the actual "Games of the XXIX Olympiad" do begin.

Still, regardless of everything, China is most definitely on a roll. Here, for instance, is a model from Shanghai Fashion Week and furthermore, there are only only 751 days to go until the Shanghai Expo / aka the 2010 World's Fair! The theatre never stops . . .

Today's Rune: Fertility.


Charles Gramlich said...

China's on a roll. That's a succinct way of putting it.

Beth said...

Good post. I worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games for a couple of years, and used to be able to spout all sorts of Olympic trivia. It's going to be interesting watching how this plays out over the coming months.

Bubs said...

I just read that the first olympic torch relay in modern times was in 1936, and was largely staged so that Leni Riefenstahl would have more material for filming.