When London was chosen – on 6 July 2005 – to stage the Olympic Games in 2012, not a few people thought the Games had been given to the wrong city.
The Olympic Games are meant to demonstrate that despite differences in race and culture, the human race is one and that its various components can compete together fiercely, without wishing to destroy each other.
Britain, under the fake socialist, Tony Blair, had just taken part in a war, undertaken with the United States, that had made Britain unnecessary enemies around the world. The Iraqi people had no quarrel with the people of Britain.
In fact, the man whom the US and Britain wanted to overthrow, Saddam Hussein, had been murdering the Iraqis, and in killing Iraqis to get rid of Saddam, the US and Britain were subjecting the Iraqi people to double punishment. Why should a country that had engaged in an unjust war be accorded the honour of staging a show that would illustrate the oneness of the human race?
Fortunately, the Olympic movement was able to divorce Britain from its government and take a decision that has turned out to be right. For after two weeks of the Olympic Games opening in London, it is clear that only truly recalcitrant people can regret that the Games went to London, and not to the other contenders -- Paris, Madrid, Moscow and New York. This is borne out by the reaction of British populace to the Games. They have sown in the British people, a new sense of self-worth, which has spawned, in its turn, a new friendliness towards people from abroad.
“And 'Johnny Foreigner'”? One might ask.
“Oh, he's wonderful. We just happen to be better at the Games than him,” would be the stock answer.
Really? Yes. The thing is that at long last, the entire British population are being taught to know who they really are. Their most widely acclaimed athlete, Jessica Ennis, is a beautiful woman with a smile that can charm a million hearts. She looks like a copy-book 'aracial' person – her father is Jamaican-born and her mother is British. But she's so fair-skinned that she appears to be more suntanned than sun-DNA'd.
In fact, it was not until she won the heptathlon that I looked up her ancestry and realised she was of mixed race. Yet she had been “the face of the Games” for many months on posters erected long before the Games opened. How those who hate a multi-racial Britain must have abhorred that!
I can hear a sceptic ask, “But she's not the only one? Did Britons become 'race-blind' after the exploits of Dame Kelly Holmes (double gold -- 800m and 1500m
in Athens in 2008?”) Or Daley Thompson (decathlon gold in Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984?) Or Linford Christie (100m gold in Barcelona 1992)? Or Denise Lewis (heptathlon gold in Sydney 2000?)
Well, it is true that all these great British athletes who won medals for Britain are not white. But they had either been born in Britain or lived there for a ling time. The same, however, cannot be said of one of the greatest British heroes of London 2012. He is called Mo Farah.
Winner of the 10,000 metres gold, Farah was born in Somalia, and came to England at the age of 8, hardly speaking a word of English. His victory in the London Olympics 10,000 metres brought tears to the eyes of Britishers, white and black alike.
Racist journalists who had written contemptuously about “Plastic Brits” who were only British because they had obtained British passports, were left to wonder at how stupid they were. Mo is now 29; if he moved to Britain when he was only eight years old, from Djibouti (where he'd gone to, from Somalia) and was educated and brought up in Britain, which country has the right to claim his loyalty? Or does his skin colour change his upbringing?
A columnist of the London Independent newspaper, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, superbly captured the ironies in Mo Farah's victory, in the context of modern British politics, like this:
“Day after day” (she wrote) “we are woken by the Today programme [of BBC Radio4] telling us how bad migration is, how bad we migrants are, as do most of the papers, fiendish trolls, the far right and some nicely spoken, respectable citizens too. You'd think we are all terrorists, sex offenders, killers of daughters, illegal entrants, alien criminals, and procreators of too many more of the above.
The abuse heaped upon me for being an Asian Muslim incomer with attitude, would kill and bury me if I let it. We fight back because we are worth it and so is the state we live in. That poetic paradox may explain why immigrants don't give up.
“On Friday evening, getting on to a tube in Victoria, I met a Somali family wearing so much Union Jack kit they looked like a mobile tourist stall...They told me they were so happy because of Farah. They wanted their children to be like him, make this country proud of them.
Near us, a white family was just as joyous and for the same reasons. And I thought, this is brilliant, we are in it together. And then a smart-looking white woman in her forties muttered to a man she was with: 'They're not British. How dare they? Why don't they go back where they came from?' They got off at Sloane Square. You see, we immigrants can't win. But we'll never stop trying.”
Be that as it may, the BBC has done its nation and its nationals proud by devoting 24 channels to the Olympics (48 if you count both the high-definition and ordinary channels). This means that almost every sport can be watched live. I must admit that the first 10 days or so were incredibly irritating. Who wants to watch water polo? What is water polo anyway? Do they play it by chukka?
Or take synchronised swimming. Or sailing. Or curling.
So many games that require the use of equipment – sometimes very expensive and complex equipment – point to the origins of the Olympics as the playground of the rich West. When are these rich men's games going to be chucked out, now that the Olympics have grown to be truly global, not Western?
One disgruntled Internet Forum contributor spoke for many of us like this:
“We... are getting sick of all these Olympic swimming events. There's an infinite number of them; synchronized diving, water polo, 100, 200 and 400, freestyle, 200m front crawl; 400m backstroke, 100m butterfly, 100 and 200 breast stroke, medleys, relays, individual races, concrete platform diving, springboard diving, synchronized diving... it never ends.
They don’t do that in track. Track is just different distances and a couple of relays; the only variation is the hurdles.
To do the same in track, we would have to have 100m forward, 200m backwards, 400m while swinging your arms out like a butterfly, sideways running relay, track polo and synchronized starting. It's all nonsense, really. Running is running, and swimming should be swimming.
The funniest one is the breast stroke. Bobbing up and down like that in their colourful head gear, they remind one of agama lizards flexing up and down on the asbestos roofs where we grew up.”
OVERHEARD: [From a Sky TV cricket commentary]
NASSER HUSSEIN: Mickey [Michael Holding, legendary West Indian fast-bowler] Did you watch that Usain Bolt race?
HOLDING: Of course I did. I went up to my hotel room, ordered room service and then stayed up to watch. Bolt gave Jamaica a very good present for its 50th birthday [its 50th independence anniversary].
Before the race, people were talking all sorts rubbish about the outcome; about Tyson Gaye beating Bolt, or even Gatlin beating him.
But they were all silent after the race. Jamaica one and two! [Yohan Blake of Jamaica came second] What a birthday present for Jamaica”.
(By the way, despite a mighty storm in Kingston, Jamaicans celebrated Bolt's win in style, as the pictures on this website make clear:
Now, when cricketers like Michael Holding stop talking about cricket and turn to athletics, then you know something unusual has happened.
And, indeed, despite being beaten during his pre-Olympic trials, and thereby creating doubts about his fitness for the Olympics, Usain Bolt had an easy victory in London. He even set a new Olympic record, running the 100 metres in 9.63 seconds.
As you read this, he might be on the way to a new record in the 200m race, too.
Didn't I say it's been a brilliant Olympic Games? Watch this space – for more Olympics discussion and also, the [not forgotten] second article on cricket.