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beijing 2008

Axe the boycott, be there, be heard.

I'm not a supporter of sporting boycotts in most cases. The exceptions can be distilled down to two types. One, where discrimination and exclusion is inherently carried out by the host sporting body (eg. apartheid-era South Africa). And two, where the host nation is in such a repressed, run-down state that playing international sport in those surrounds would be grossly immoral (eg. Zimbabwe, North Korea).

Boycotts of the Olympic Games are almost as old as the modern Olympics themselves. Think of Irish athletes refusing to compete in the first London Games and you realise that 2008 is the centennial year of the Olympic boycott.

Torch the torch, but spare the Games

I'd have no problem with tight security for the Olympic torch if it were being relayed from Olympia to Beijing by the shortest, fastest route. But for the torch to be protected by a phalanx of police and armed guards while on a ceremonial jog through London and San Francisco, that is the height of absurdity.

No, wait a minute, the height of absurdity is to hide the torch for forty minutes and change the route at the last minute so that no one actually knows where it is. As happened in San Francisco today.

The awarding in 2001 of the 29th Olympic Games to Beijing was always a troubling decision. Having accepted it then, we have no real reason to get uppity about it in 2008. But nothing justifies the politicised sideshows.

Of terrorists and cricketers

Ever worried about all these new anti-terrorist laws? Ever worried that their wide-ranging discretionary powers would be used for entirely non-terrorism related reasons? Well, it happened in Australia this week.

The Australian cricket team was threatened with action under the Australian Passports Act 2005 if they went ahead with this September's planned tour of Zimbabwe.

Peter Norman 1942-2006

Peter Norman died in Melbourne yesterday at the age of 64. He should be regarded as one of Australia's greatest sporting legends. He probably won't be.

At a time when Australia's prowess on the athletics track was in decline, Norman's crowning achievement was to win the silver medal in the 200 metres at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. The gold medallist in that event was Tommie Smith, the bronze medallist John Carlos.

IOC and Coca-Cola extend partnership to 2020

The contribution of Coca-Cola to the Olympic Movement has always been the model of a true partnership.

- Jacques Rogge, 1.8.05

This just in from the media desk of the International Olympic Committee:

The International Olympic Committee and The Coca-Cola Company today announced a renewal of their partnership for an unprecedented 12 years, thereby taking what was already the longest sponsorship of the Olympic Games to a record 92 uninterrupted years. The partnership, which began in 1928, was extended during a signing ceremony on the Great Wall of China. The new agreement, which begins in 2009, will see Coca-Cola supporting the Olympic Movement over a period which covers the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, the London 2012 Olympic Games, plus the Olympic Games of 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Baseball and softball axed from London Olympics

The IOC meeting in Singapore has decided today that Beijing 2008 will be the last appearance of baseball and softball at the Olympic Games for the time being. They have been dropped from the 2012 games in London, but are theoretically eligible for re-inclusion in the Microsoft Seattle Olympics of 2016 (remember where you hear it first!)

This is a pity from my point of view, as baseball is one of the few Olympic competitions which capture my interest.

A brief IOC announcement is here. Five other sports are candidates for inclusion in 2012: Roller Sports, Squash, Karate, Rugby (presumably the seven-a-side mutation) and Golf! Later today, the IOC Executive Board will decide whether to submit any of the five to the IOC session, which is scheduled to wrap up tomorrow.


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