Why don’t we host the Olympics in the year 2016? We have it on the authority of our own John Coates this week that Rio de Janeiro is not remotely close to being ready, and other reports indicate little sign they’ll be able to turn it around soon.
Now, being unready at this stage of the game, and even much later, is hardly unprecedented. When I went to the hugely successful Athens Olympics in 2004, I couldn’t help but notice they hadn’t even finished the Acropolis yet, and I think they’d been building it for, like, centuries. But Greece still had a First World economy, a population that was as skilled as it was educated as it was passionate to put on a great Games.
Brazil – love it as we do – has none of those things. More, there is constant and growing social unrest, as activists rightly point out how ludicrous it is to spend such vast sums of public money to build a landing pad for a huge sports spaceship that simply comes and goes after two weeks, when rather more important and enduring things such as schools, hospitals, roads and sewers remain unbuilt.
The same reckoning applies to the World Cup next month, but while the population will cop that, as they are so into that sport, there is a real chance they’ll revolt against the Olympics. In that case, are we in Sydney not the obvious ones to host? We have an entire Olympic precinct where, on many a day, tumbleweeds are blowing down the dirty boulevard.
For an absolute minimum cost, compared to the initial outlay, we could host the whole thing. As to administration, we simply put the band back together. They won’t be hard to find. The bulk of the key ones have been on the Olympics caravan since, selling their expertise to host city after city, and they could simply come home again. Where are you Sandy Holloway? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. The Olympics is our baby, and it is time it came back from Rio.
PS. And after that we can host the Qatar 2022 World Cup of soccer, when that inevitably falls over, too.
The problem with drugs
The Geoff Huegill arrest, on alleged possession of cocaine?
I liked the response of Fitzphile Stewart Kade who tweeted IRONICALLY, because he was NOT being serious: “@Peter_Fitz International Drug Baron Geoff Huegill's reign of terror finally ends. Was there a shoot out?” No, Stewart. Just 30 police with sniffer dogs pushing their way through a peaceful gathering – consisting of droves of drunks and demon gamblers – to find those passive people who happened to be in possession of a white powder not yet legalised. I know, I know, it’s against the law to have such white powder. But how are those laws going, by the way? A report this week has it that such drugs are more available than ever before, across Australia. Sure, we can try to counter it by turning ourselves into a police state, but do we really want to live like that? Whether you and I like it or not – and I don’t, particularly – millions of our fellow Australians regularly take substances that are against the law. And prohibition is not working to limit them, never has worked, and never will work. A far more sensible approach is to treat the whole thing as a health problem, not as a criminal problem.
Kareem on top
On the issue of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, and the shockingly racist remarks of their owner Donald Sterling, TFF wrote a piece on Thursday commending the team for making their public protest. On the same day, however, American basketball great, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a much better one. After detailing many other racists things Sterling has done in the public domain, the legend of the NBA over 20 seasons went on: “So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.” This excerpt doesn’t do it justice. It is a thunderously well-written piece by a someone who has more cred on the subject than all the rest of us put together.
Banana campaign appeals
Meanwhile? Meanwhile, there has been another interesting racism story in sport this week, after Brazilian and Barcelona player Dani Alves was playing at away at Villarreal last Sunday and about to take a corner kick when someone threw a banana at him. With staggering aplomb and no hesitation, Alves picked up the banana, peeled it, had a bite, and made the kick – a beauty. All but instantly, his Brazilian teammate Neymar took a photo of himself eating a banana with his son, with the hashtag #WeAreAllMonkeys and the whole thing taking off, with people of all stripes, and colours, around the world releasing photos of themselves eating bananas. The whole thing has wonderful overtones of the famous story of what happened after the forces of Adolf Hitler invaded Denmark during World War and issued an edict that henceforth all Jews would have to wear a Star of David symbol on their upper arms. The following morning the Danish King emerged with such a symbol, saying, “We are all Jews.”
What They Said
A Geelong supporter, to the Hawthorn players, after his side thumped the Hawks in a keenly anticipated match: “Pull your pants up! It’s all over!”
Steve Roach calling the football on 2GB last Sunday, after Manly scored their seventh try in 32 minutes against a Canberra Raiders side as hapless as they were hopeless. “I think even the ballboys are going to score today.” They just about did. The Sea Eagles went on to a crushing 54-18 victory.
Swans chairman Andrew Pridham on Buddy Franklin’s treatment by you mongrels in the media: “They think because he’s big and strong he doesn't have feelings but he does get bullied at times.” Exactly! We’re taking your names, you bastards!
Lance Armstrong still thinks he won the Tour de France seven titles: “Yes, I feel that I won the races. I know that is not a popular answer, but the reality is that ... it was just a messy time. It was basically an arms race, and we all played ball that way.”
Knight Alex McKinnon slowly improving: “It’s just a matter of time before I hopefully get more movement in my legs. I’ve got a great sensation of feeling through my legs. It’s a lot of positive signs.” Bravo the Knights who will pay his salary out, and the NRL, which has offered him a job for life.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was taped by his wife of 50 years, talking to his girlfriend of a few months: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you're associating with black people. Do you have to? You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it ... and not to bring them to my games.”
Jesse Jackson, an outspoken African-American leader and former US presidential candidate, called for fans to boycott Clippers' games: “If we are just going from picking cotton balls to picking basketballs, then we are not making progress. It's about dignity.”
Brumby Matt Toomua quoting Nick Cummins after his two-try performance against the Chiefs: “I haven’t had a bit of ‘double meat’, as Badge says.”
Milan's Mario Balotelli to TV hosts after a loss: “When Milan wins Mario is great, when it loses Mario is bad.” When Mario speaks about himself in the third person, we shift uncomfortably.
ESPN’s Steve Bunce on Alex Leapai fighting for the world title: “Imagine if David had a tiny cousin, then that is Leapai against Wlad’s Goliath. Leapai should be back in Logan City, Queensland, playing with his six kids and getting ready for church and taking a break from his job as a delivery driver.”
Wladimir Klitschko after the fight: “You have truly a lionheart. You never stopped. You were challenging, you were bold. You had great desire to become a champion. Not many of my opponents have that type of attitude, that type of heart.”
Alex Leapai: “The Lionheart will rise again.”
John Coates unimpressed with Rio's Games preparations: “The IOC has formed a special task force to try and speed up preparations but the situation is critical on the ground ... The worst I have experienced ... Worse than Athens ... [Rio also has] social issues that need to be addressed.”
Rabbitoh Greg Inglis, too, says you gotta love this city: “As big as it is, Sydney is very small ... The people who live here in Sydney will realise what I am talking about. When I first came here I hated the place and didn’t want to be here but that changed very quickly. I couldn’t be happier.”
NRL chairman John Grant, announcing the Kangaroos line-up: “At lock, Paul Gallen, from the Cronulla-Sutherland Hawks ... On the bench, Daly Cherry-Evans of the Manly Seagulls.” Odd.
Team of the Week
Waratahs. Their season hinges on the game tonight against the Highlanders. Make or break, gentlemen – now or never.
Gillon McLachlan. New AFL boss.
Port Adelaide. On top of the AFL Ladder. Their chairman, David Koch, has done well since taking over a basket case.
Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers. Contest the A-League grand final on Sunday.
Cootamundra Rugby League Club. Celebrate their centenary celebrations when Cootamundra Bulldogs play Wagga’s South City Bulls at the newly named Les Boyd Oval, Cootamundra. RAH!
Neil Robertson. The Australian snooker player – I think the blond one who burst on the scene a few years ago – became the first player to make 100 century breaks in a season.
Young Yabbies Rugby team. After not winning a game in 2013, this year they tapped local former Super rugby second-rower Will Caldwell to give them specialist forward coaching, and last weekend took CSU Reddies in the Waggas to register a THUMPING 27-24 win. Rah!
Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club. The Bergs commence their 85th season on Sunday with the annual ritual of members jumping into the pool with huge blocks of ice. They’re an odd mob, but hugely likeable. This year also marks the 20th season of women being admitted as members of the club.
Buddy Franklin. Misses the match against Brisbane this week, as one of his troubled knees has flared up again. It has just been revealed that he has not been able to train properly, day by day, since early in the season because of those knees. Hey, did someone kick the tyres?
Cameron Smith. Young Australian golfer narrowly missed out on victory in only his second professional event in the Indonesian Masters.
RIP Ryan Tandy 1981-2014. The troubled former NRL player, involved in a match-fixing scandal four years ago, died from a drug overdose last Monday. (Lifeline 13 11 14)