This is just me speaking, and you might have a different opinion. Fine.
But this old boy who has been around the block a few times, who chatted with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris about home runs, who walked with Walter Payton while he ripped decent-sized saplings out of the earth, who survived a party at Crobar with birthday boy Dennis Rodman — if I never see another Winter Olympics as long as I live, I’ll be happy.
Maybe I’m overreacting.
But I don’t think so.
I mean, what was that just-concluded, two-week-long thing we witnessed from Beijing?
A frozen Lifetime Network soap opera featuring abused children and snowboarder bleached-hair “slut strands” (as they’re called by performers)? An icy sequel to “Squid Game’’? A propaganda reel extolling the splendors of a Chinese isolationist boot camp?
No crowds, no cheering, no real shared joy anywhere that I perceived. Yes, COVID precautions played a role in the depressing Big Brother restraints and the silence.
But from an opening ceremony featuring masked athletes marching around a vast stadium seemingly empty save for wildly dancing Chinese stooges and Russian president and former KGB officer Vladimir Putin to 15-year-old Russian skater Kamila Valieva’s drug abyss to faceless bobsledders who might as well have been robots planted in tubes — these were the Games from a dark planet.
Cheating? Doping? The Russians — or the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee), as the delegation was bizarrely called — loading up a minor like Valieva with grandpa’s heart medication? Come on. Cheating equals Russia. Cheating is what you get when winning is about global dominance and disinformation more than sport.
The Russians are so dirty — check their history, check the documentary “Icarus” —that nobody from Russia should have been allowed in the Games. Not that the rest of the world, including the United States, is historically squeaky clean. But the Russians have the PED thing down to an art, a culture.
Also, of course, winning medals and distracting the world make it that much easier to invade a place like, say, Ukraine.
I can fairly say this, too: What right does any organization have to call something it creates the “Olympics,’’ supposedly a global athletic competition, when a huge part of the world never sees a flake of snow and its only ice comes from the refrigerator?
Hypocrisy is a motto of the Games. Has been for years. Think about it. China and Russia are in a quiet race to dominate the world, whether by human-rights abuses or cyber attacks or economic disruption. They should be censured. And yet three of the Summer or Winter Games since 2008 have been in one of those countries. You think the International Olympic Committee is on the up-and-up? Shall we get into the history of bribes in that group or its member sports federations and committees? I think not. This is only column length.
Something unsound was laid so bare in these Olympics that it became impossible to disregard and think about the competition. It’s a kind of falseness, a happy see-through veneer that attempts to hide the things that make our world go around — money, prestige, power.
Six hundred million Chinese viewers watched these Games, guaranteeing that it was the most watched Olympics. And that’s why the sponsors lined up to pay billions for ads. All those eyeballs.
It’s why Western nations didn’t protest, didn’t speak out about China’s abuses of, for instance, the ethnic Uyghurs whom it has tried to wipe out. Before the Games, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told American athletes not to anger Chinese authorities with outbursts or contrary statements. Good job, Nancy. It’s called self-censorship in the name of capitalism. Rule No. 1: Don’t tick off customers!
Former Disney CEO Bob Iger told the New York Times that moviemakers try not to desert their “values’’ because of business in China. “But there are compromises that companies have to make to be global.”
Just know that the box-office hit “Transformers’’ made $300 million in China for effect.
Maybe the problem for me is I don’t care enough about half-pipes and ski circles, costumes, sequins, makeup, kiss-and-cries or festivals that can be won by medal-champion Norway (pop.: 5.5 million).
Maybe it’s because of that Finnish cross-country skier who got his private part frozen during a race, which happened to him, if you can imagine, for the second time in his career.
Please keep it all away from me. Forever.