Flares and Olympiads

Some have questioned Greece’s ability to organize a flawless Olympiad. However, following Sunday’s basketball cup final, we can rest assured that everything will go according to plan. The spontaneous display of superior sporting spirit by about 2,000 fans – split in two camps, «the heroic people of Olympiakos» and «the heroic people of Aris» – is unshakeable evidence that in August we shall teach foreign visitors exactly what we have promised to teach them – what is more, for free: Fair play and sports as a synonym for peace. Besides, in a deeper sense, every flare that hit the playing area inside Lamia’s basketball venue was a symbolic replica of the torch that will carry the Olympic flame across the globe. We take pride in «our flame,» the «flame of the cradle of the Olympics» despite the fact that we are unable – both as a state and as a society – to organize a bloodless sports event, be that so much as a hockey match. Of course, before the lesson for our summer guests, we made certain of tutoring the foreigners who are already here: the Americans, Slovenes, Serbs, Argentineans and Finns who coached or played with the two finalists. We showed them the «beauty of the game,» «the joy of participation,» and the meaning of «truce.» But they looked stunned, shocked and ashamed. We shared their shame, didn’t we? Or did we, perhaps, hope that our team would win, even over the sport’s dead body? Did we overlook the barbarity, just like the so-called responsible officials and politicians did, making sure to congratulate the winner of the war so as to ensure a share of the vote? Demonstrators at a recent protest rally against the Games shouted a slogan that said: «The Olympic spirit must die in the place where it was born.» But their slogan is completely inappropriate. Because the spirit has long given up the ghost.

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