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August 11, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Olympic Oddities

With the games of the 29th Olympiad finally underway in Beijing, it seems only fitting that this veritable hub of intellectualism and prestige known as Salient’s sports column forego any attempt to provide a healthy and balanced analysis of China’s Olympics in favour of bringing you a series of utterly pointless stories about the games instead.

Naturally, the rules that govern many Olympic sports are conceived with the health and safety of their athletes in mind. Olympic boxing, indeed, is such a sport, but there is one particular rule that would most assuredly deny Joel Cosgrove the honour of offering fisticuffs for his country should the slings and arrows of almost universal student hatred cause him to flip his helmet and lash out: no beards. Yes, fellow fuzz-faces, the IOC would require us to either restrict our innate display of manliness to a small moustache no longer than the length of the upper lip or shave our winter coats off completely should the urge to go all “Rocky” be too much to overcome.

This was a cause of a smallish upheaval back in 2000 when those fun-loving cave dwellers called the Taleban kicked up an unofficial stink over the IOC’s decision to ban bearded boxers, citing the rule as a slur against the Islamic faith. This was in spite of the fact Afghanistan was the only country not officially recognised by the IOC in 2000 because of its Taleban regime, and perhaps because the quality of boxer produced by the mountainous nation at the time would’ve been comparable to our own boxing management flicking el Presidente Cosgrove a call. Even so, they unofficially pressed their case, unofficially stating that they had been unofficially discriminated against by an organisation that unofficially recognised that they didn’t have a point by officially ignoring them. An IOC spokesperson was reported at the time to have said of the protest, “It is not in the IOC’s interest to acknowledge them at all.” KO’d, beardos.

For those of you with an undying interest in how the Chinese are planning on maintaining food standards this year (all, like, three of you), you’ll be simply enamoured with the news that a twenty-four-hour vigil is being presided over by a team of highlymotivated food inspectors. Their job, funnily enough, is to not only insure the quality of food served is befitting that of the world’s best athletes, but that it doesn’t get tampered with by those pesky terrorist folk. It is task that is by no means being taken lightly, as inspector Liu Yinghong acknowledged to China Daily: “Our responsibility is to maintain a 24-hour vigil on production,” she admitted, followed by this casual nod to her own tenacity: “I haven’t been home for months.”

Despite no other reputable news outlet championing the cause, I would like to formally announce Salient’s support for the reinstatement of perhaps the most hallowed and insatiably simple sport to ever grace the Olympics: the tug-of- war.

Those of you who had the shear privilege of attending a rural primary school will no doubt be familiar with the educational benefits of pitting two or so dozen kids on one end of a rope and the same number on the other and ordering them to pill their opposition off their feet and drag them through the slosh of a nearby sheep paddock in the name of victory. Well, until 1920, the Olympics too shared that perspective, opening its gate wide enough for an industrial-sized rope to fit through, only to unexpectedly slam it shut in the interest of facilitating a more “serious sporting program” (and yet, synchronised swimming continues to fill a plate at the Olympic buffet).

The tug-of-war, unsurprisingly, remains popular today amongst a number of culturally and geographically diverse countries such as Latvia, Iran, Mongolia and Laos, who, along with China and the UK, all have official tug-ofwar associations. And despite its unforgivable Olympic shunning, the sport continues to receive “mad props” from the fun-loving folk at the World Games, set to take place next year in Taipei.

And finally, if you find yourself staring forlornly at this year’s medal table and feeling the slightest twang of jealously at the success of our neighbours across the ditch, consider this: during the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, New Zealand and Australia competed as a single entity, “Australasia.” The thought of Robbie Deans and Mahe Drysdale standing side-by-side as examples of “AUSTRALIAN SPORTING SUCCESS….with some help from them kuwees” is almost aneurism inducing. Needless to say, our decision to go it alone from 1920 onwards was worth its weight in gold.

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Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

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