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Vancouver 2010 Wrapup

Published by marco on

Short Track (or How Sports Works for the uninitiated)

Short track speed skating got the short shrift right up until the end from Eurosport. Apparently, there was a bit of a controversy with one of Apolo Anton Ohno’s races. More details are available in the article, Apolo Ohno Disqualified in 500 Meters, Wins Relay Bronze (Fanhouse)

I didn’t see the video because of the blanket NBC hatred for non-US residents and the NBC stranglehold on video content from the Olympics.

That does not prevent me from having an opinion, of course.

I think the other skater isn’t really allowed to say anything one way or the other, even if he wanted to. The judges and video replay have the last word and that’s it. If someone could say, yeah, but, regardless of what the video shows, I know I fell on my own, then it open the door to manipulation. In this one particular case, it might be considered justice, but it would open the door to manipulation if a skater’s opinion mattered in the outcome of the race.

Also, in the heat of the race, it’s nearly impossible to accurately remember what really happened – your mind makes up a lot of stuff to fill in the huge cracks yours senses leave. A skilled questioner could get the “honest” guy to both admit and deny that he fell on his own … all within a quarter of an hour. That’s why the judges and video evidence override everything.

That’s just sports, man. Ireland’s not going to the world cup because Thierry Henry from the French team batted in the tying goal to qualify – and deny France. The referee didn’t see it, though every camera on the planet did. There’s no video replay in soccer, so that’s that. The call stands … because that’s the rules. Ohno understands the rules because he’s a sportsman … people who care about sports once every two years during the Olympics are not and that’s why there’s almost always an uproar whenever they perceive something as unfair. The athletes, on the other hand, mostly understand that the system’s not perfect and that the ball bounces one way one day and another the next. If it’s randomly imperfect, that’s fine; as long as it isn’t biased.

Closing Ceremonies

It’s pretty much a ritual that you first trundle out the organizers of the thing, Rogge closes ‘er down, the next city gets the torch (as it were) and the outgoing hosts put on a kitschy show, complete with native talent (again, as it were).

Noteworthy was that VANOC CEO John Furlong—the head of the organizing committee from start to finish, all 14 years worth—somehow let himself be pressured into speaking French—for what must have been, like, the first time in his life—in front of a crowd of dozens of thousands in the stadium, and upward of billions planet-wide. This author, in a recent article (Englisch wird die Arbeitssprache), gave EU commissar Günther Oettinger a pass on his abysmal English. However, the reasoning there was that Herr Oettinger is actually pushing for more English in Germany and so should take the first steps himself, regardless of how poorly he speaks it.

It’s a complete mystery why Mr. Furlong agreed to humiliate himself by speaking what we will grudgingly admit was French. The reactions were not gentle, as documented in Closing Ceremonies: The Live Blog by Andrew Coyne (Macleans):

“National unity set back 30 years. […] Question: what’s worse? No French, or Furlong French? Moliere dying several more deaths. […] Tribute to the deceased Georgian luger. Furlong’s Georgian is better than his French.”

And, in ‘ey, John FurLONG, kest keh yu coll dat, Fran-say, eh? (Digital Citizen), which comes out swinging already in the title, but also offers a possible reason for this Francophonic catastrophe:

“Probably pressured to include more French in the Closing Ceremonies by the Conservatives trying to get votes in Quebec, as Heritage Minister James Moore tried by speaking out after the Opening Ceremonies (CBC), John could not have faked an English speaker reading French for the first time ever any better. […] ome francophones have loudly voiced their disappointment at the lack of French at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Well, I hope they’re happy now. (Emphasis added.)”

If you’re in the States, you can find the video on NBC’s site. The rest of the world can try to find it on YouTube, but it’s kind of a moving target. If you speak or even just understand French, it’s worth it, though.