A missed opportunity

In the final stretch for the «beautiful, the great and the true,» as the slogan has it, one cannot help wondering whether what Greece is about to present to the world will in fact be beautiful, great and true. The Games will no doubt be a great event – albeit in a distorted sense of the word. What is considered beautiful is subjective, therefore any opinion is no more valid than its exact opposite. Nevertheless, it cannot be disputed that Greece has missed a unique opportunity. Everything that we are anxious to imitate or overcome in respect to the Games’ opening ceremonies bears no relation to the events that took place in Athens in 1896, or those before that date. The aesthetic content of the modern Olympics was neither set by the ancient Games nor by the romantic philhellenes who revived them at the close of the 19th century. Unfortunately, it was shaped by the most deadly regime in history – the Nazis. Those mammoth totalitarian ceremonies in which fascism found its most complete aesthetic expression – unfortunately winning legitimacy from classical ideals: the glory of sportsmanship and the human body – were conjured up by a group led by Joseph Goebbels. It is no coincidence that another brutal dictatorship, the Soviet one, was the one to leave us with the most aesthetically memorable Games after Berlin. Displaying a huge lack of historical experience, Greece missed the opportunity to refashion the Olympics and the values of the Games – a transformation that would have begun to shake off that repulsive aesthetic legacy and its totalitarian undertones. Ceremonies encapsulate the spirit of the Games. Apparently these are going to be «big, very big.» Some may even find them beautiful. But for sure, they will not be true.