Category Archives: Olympic Games

India’s wisdom and glory

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 23.32.30Hindustan alone, writes Dalrymple,

values the Olympic Games at their true worth—which is to say, approaching nil.

It is not, he points out, that Indians

are indifferent to sport. They are crazy about cricket, a game whose considerable subtleties are lost on all who did not grow up with it but which teaches mental flexibility as well as specific skills. But no official encouragement is necessary to promote this enthusiasm. On every field of every Indian city, ragged children can be seen playing with improvised equipment, as richer children play with the latest kit. It is no coincidence that, economically, India now dominates this most English of games.

India

more or less ignored the Olympics. But it is India, whose government does nothing to encourage (or deter) its athletes, that is right, not the rest of the world.

Olympic vice

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.06.35If, writes Dalrymple, the games

were amateur, if the competitors were schoolteachers or dustmen who, after work, went down to some dingy sports field to practise their putting-the-shot or other fatuous activity, I would be in favour of rather than against them. The standard of performance would be incomparably lower, but the level of humanity would be correspondingly higher.

But this, Dalrymple points out, is a silly utopian dream.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.11.29Even before the Berlin Olympics, the games were a window on political pathology. Dalrymple’s mother

saw Hitler at the Olympic stadium,

and Dalrymple remembers

seeing the Olympic flame borne aloft past me in Amalfi in 1960, by which time the games had long been a deeply vicious spectacle.

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Criminal malversation of funds

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 15.08.39Is British cycling success the consequence of superior pharmacology?

Great Britain, writes Dalrymple,

to its eternal disgrace, has done extremely well in the latest games. Per capita it has far outperformed the USA. By the same token, New Zealand, to its great and everlasting shame, has outperformed even it by as great a margin.

Picking up the London Guardian newspaper, which he calls the Izvestia of British liberals (liberals in the US sense), Dalrymple comes across an article that praises

the glories of central planning, in witness whereof was the success—not to say, world dominance—of the British cycling team. This was attributed to the government’s ‘investment’, in my view a criminal malversation of funds, in facilities for racing cyclists.

Let us admit for a moment, says Dalrymple,

what yet has to be proved, that the British success in this sphere was not the consequence of superior pharmacology. We may justly ask what kind of person would rejoice in such a victory for his country. Surely only a moron, though it must be admitted that such imbecility is pretty evenly spread around the globe.

A waste of shame

Dalrymple writes that a man who throws the javelin further than anyone else

is not to be admired but pitied.

To be sure, a thing is not worth doing unless it is worth doing well, but

a thing that is done well that is not worth doing is something very bad indeed—far worse than a thing worth doing that is done badly. It bespeaks a waste of ability.

Pitiable

Pitiable

Is putting the shot the proper study of Mankind?

The Press sisters, Dalrymple reminds us,

precipitately retired when obligatory sex tests were introduced.

These days, however,

such tests would not put them off or be regarded as relevant. You are the sex that you think you are.

The Press brothers’ success

was promoted in some quarters as evidence of the superiority of the Soviet social and political system, as if putting the shot, or throwing the discus, or jumping the hurdles (all activities in which the Presses excelled, at least against feminine competition) were Pope’s ‘proper study of Mankind’.

Irina (left) and Tamara Press

Irina (left) and Tamara Press

Brains of tinsel

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 13.16.38Turning to the Olympics and

the expenditure of billions on infrastructure that is so soon to crumble to worthlessness and liability, all for the sake of a couple of weeks’ gormless global entertainment,

Dalrymple writes that

only someone with brains of tinsel, such as Mr Blair, the former British prime minister who brought the games to London, could have thought it worthwhile; not as bad, perhaps, as the endless mass parades in Pyongyang, but of a similar genre.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 13.09.39Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 13.18.25Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 13.20.56Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 13.24.58

Impoverished Cariocas ought to be ready for revolt

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 11.32.25Dalrymple writes that if he were a Brazilian in a favela who, to get to his place of work in the morning, had to struggle for two hours

because of bad roads and insufficient public transport, and who had witnessed the expenditure of billions on infrastructure that was soon to crumble to worthlessness and liability, all for the sake of a couple of weeks’ gormless global entertainment, I should be furious.

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Hindustan has its priorities right

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India: creditable performance

Once again, writes Dalrymple,

the only country of any size that emerges from the Olympics with any credit is India. Accounting for something like a sixth of the world’s population, it has not won a single medal in any event. It has steadfastly refused to measure itself by the number of medals it wins at the Olympics.

New Delhi does nothing whatever to encourage citizens to devote their lives to trying to jump a quarter of a centimetre longer or higher than anyone else in human history, for Hindustanis recognise that such a goal is the kind

that totalitarian régimes set for their citizens (or perhaps they should be called prisoners). Custine observed that tyrannies demand immense efforts of their populations to bring forth trifles, and there can be no trifle more trifling than an Olympic victory. To be the best in the world at something is no achievement unless what you are best at is worthwhile.

India, says Dalrymple,

is the last best hope of humanity. May it continue, to its eternal glory, to win no medals.

Citius, Altius, Fortius, Hermaphroditus

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 22.51.33Dalrymple reminds us that in the 1960s,

medical cytologists were called in to determine the sex of female athletes suspected of being men. The careers of the Press sisters of the Soviet Union, so successful at the Rome Olympics, came to a mysterious end when such tests became routine.

He also points out that doctors

acted as advisers to the sporting authorities in the communist countries when they were determined that their young female gymnasts should dominate the sport. The activities of those doctors were ethically little better than medical participation in torture.

Dalrymple’s own objection, however, to these deformities is different:

that to devote one’s life to, say, throwing a javelin a fraction of an inch further than anyone else has ever thrown it is a deformation of the soul.

Dalrymple Public and Reserve Gardens Regulations

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The Dalrympian Eden

The following are strictly prohibited in the gardens:

  • chewing-gum
  • canned drinks
  • jeans
  • basketball
  • skateboards
  • baseball caps*
  • tattoos
  • piercings
  • pasteurised cheese
  • coffee in plastic containers
  • the wearing of suits without ties
  • televisual apparatus, however portable or compact
  • mobile-telephonic apparatus, or any kind of associated prosthesis
  • littering
  • burqa (except for young Englishwomen on Friday and Saturday nights; they will not be admitted to the gardens unless clad in one — the garment has certain advantages)
  • celebrity magazines
  • audible use of the word chair for chairman
  • conversations about association football
  • headphones (the tish-ter-tish that emanates from the user’s supposedly private little world is highly irritating)
  • conversations about the Olympic Games
  • ‘rock’ or other forms of popular so-called music, also the nodding of heads in time to the ‘music’ in the manner of the fatuous nodding dogs in the back windows of cars
  • eating, especially the consumption of ‘fast food’

Thank you for your co-operation.

* Baseball caps, Dalrymple points out, ‘have the effect of making the intelligent look average and the average moronic. Can anyone look intelligent or dignified in a baseball cap?’ They are ‘inelegant at best and hideous at worst’. People wear them in restaurants, ‘which is uncouth and crass, and is a habit that I would like to see suppressed with the full vigour of the law.’