We won — but what?

Acknowledging the successful organization of the Olympic Games by a country that until the eve of the opening ceremony had been an object of scorn, and speaking in the language of the host country as required by courtesy, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge assured us we had «won.» We do not know if he himself chose the particularly verb (which applies more to buying and selling than to the joy of victory) – or whether it was suggested by Greek advisers, but the choice was apt, since the Olympics are above all a huge market, where every medal has a material value for winners and sponsors. The regulator of this market is the «Olympic Family,» whose leaders use their power to make distressing diagnoses in public about the state of mind of sporting officials in the host country. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. So it is not possible to make one single summation of the Olympic Games acceptable to everyone. The Games had their tangible parameters as well as their intangible ones, financial and ideological. And as we cannot yet precisely estimate the material parameters (what astronomical amounts were eventually spent and what was wasted on useless «security» systems such as the zeppelin), it is by no means easy to estimate the cost to us on the level of ideas, nor whether the emotions released will contribute to a lasting sense of self-respect or remain at the level of self-congratulation and arrogance. The «long Greek summer» that began in Portugal and ended in a party that did not include its guests and which climaxed in a typically «Greek» celebration (sporting victories are usually celebrated in nightclubs), also had its fair share of rainclouds, from the doping and the hypocrisy surrounding it, to attacks by hooligans on the «Olympic Spirit.» All of this will remain with us, when the brilliance has worn off.

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