International Olympics: Beijing 2008

August 20, 2008

The grand opening ceremony by China to unveil the 29th Olympiad games in Beijing on August 8th, 2008 was impressive.

There were many “Gold, Silver and Bronze” medalists honored at this event.

The stellar performance by Michael Phelps as the “World and Olympic Champion” swimmer was incredible. His goals were to achieve “eight gold medals” to set up a new World and Olympic record in Beijing 2008. Michael realized his dream by winning “eight gold medals”, surpassing the record of the former athlete “Mark Spitz” who won seven gold medals in the same Olympic event. Michael’s name and fame reached sky high competing with the fireworks displayed at the Opening Ceremony of this international event.

Congratulations! Michael Phelps you are truly a great inspiration and a role model.

Also “hats off” to the Olympic marvels – Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, the “dynamic duo” of the Women’s Volleyball, “Ryan Lochte – wonderful performance with a gold medal and a world record”, Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Dara Torres – tremendous spirit.

Again Michael Phelps, Garrett Weber-Gale, Cullen Jones and Jason Lezak – in setting the record straight against the “French team” with gold medals after winning the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay swimming, the NBA Basketball stars and the entire U.S. Olympic team – terrific games!

All U.S. athletes put on a dazzling performance. The spectacular display of talent in all events by the U.S. Olympic team contributed towards the United States leading the Medal tally. We need to catch up with the host nation “China” on the “Gold Medal” count, even though it does not appear to be a great challenge.

All athletes were at their best given numerous factors related to age, past performance and last but not the least mishap with the “Women’s Gymnastics”. It was commendable that Alicia Sacramone handled the whole situation gracefully and proved herself to be a good sport.

A tribute to all athletes from different parts of the world –

Usain Bolt of Kingston, Jamaica wins the gold medal in the 100-meter dash in 9.69 seconds. The rumor that he might have a future with NFL further enhances the prospects for the athlete.

Several athletes from poor and developing nations showcasing their talent are praiseworthy for competing against developed and rich nations with far better facilities and advanced training programs. 

It has been a week since the 29th Olympic games started and it is not devoid of controversies;

The controversy involved the allegedly “underage” or minor “Chinese Female Gymastics” team with an advantage to seize the gold medal against the U.S team.

Not surprisingly some athletes testing positive for “performance enhancement drug”.

The very latest news; NBA forbidden from signing up the 7’2” Iranian Basketball Olympian Hamed Ehadadi as per the letter received by the NBA legal counsel according to Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo Sports that stated “We have been advised that a federal statue prohibits a person or organization in the United States from engaging in business dealings with Iranian nationals.”

Then the buzz about the “Spanish Basketball team” with several NBA players including the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and Toronto’s Jose Calderon, in the audacious team photo posing in a “squinty-eyed” gesture angered the Asian athletes accompanied by sparring of words in the Asian press media. This incident also raised the “double standards” issue among the African American NBA players.

The “Excerpts from the news article by Adrian Wojnarowski, Yahoo! Sports Aug 13, 10:24 am EDT – Thank you.

Gasol and Calderon aren’t just accountable to Spain on this Olympic stage but the global corporate entity that pays them more than $130 million in pro contracts. The NBA could’ve delivered a ready rebuke on Wednesday and there was none.

They’ll dock you $50,000 for ripping an incompetent official, but you can get a pass on an orchestrated racial slur? Gasol is kidding himself to say that he was pushed into it. Do you think Kobe Bryant would’ve been pressured to pose this way? LeBron James? Gasol is a serious, sensitive player with the prestige and clout for Spain to step up and say: Forget it, fellas. This isn’t happening. Only he didn’t.

As much as anything, this episode feeds a prevailing feeling among African-American NBA players that they’re the constant scapegoats for whatever issues – real or perceived – plague the sport. Without the public demanding a pound of accountability for European players, do they get a pass?

“The simple question is, ‘Would NBA commissioner David Stern and the league hold the American players accountable?’ And I think the answer to that is yes,” one NBA general manager said. “So why wouldn’t he hold the ‘other’ NBA players accountable – unless the rules only apply to the American players.”

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International Olympics and politics have collided since the origin of this event. Even though the Olympic event is symbolic in defining international solidarity with nations gathering together to pledge their support for peace and harmony, some nations have used the same event as a platform to air their political differences and hostility against each other.

There have been bomb threats, boycotts and even a hostage crisis….the notorious one being the “Munich massacre”.

Munich massacre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Thank you.

The Munich massacre occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by Black September, a group with ties to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization.

By the end of the ordeal, the terrorist group had killed eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and one German police officer. Five of the eight members of Black September were killed by police officers during an abortive rescue attempt. The three surviving terrorists were captured, and were later released by West Germany following the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner, a release that has led to speculation that West Germany had helped stage the Lufthansa hijacking.[3][4]

Israel responded to the massacre with Operation Spring of Youth and Operation Wrath of God, a series of Israeli air strikes and assassinations of those suspected of planning the killings.”

Perhaps the twenty first century could teach mankind to respect and understand each other as part of the “human race” and spare the sports event from becoming the battleground to resolve any political crisis.

Padmini Arhant