Saturday, February 8, 2014

Random observations on the opening ceremony

Yes, I watched the Olympic opening ceremony. Finally, I thought, something that happens at just the right time of day for Nigeria. (The Superbowl just didn't happen. I'm not going to start watching a football game at midnight on a work night. Even a really, really big football game. Also - I'm thinking back to the World Cup that I tried to watch in Sri Lanka and how totally awkward that timing was too.)

So anyway, we took advantage of the timing and watched most of the opening ceremony. The biggest moment of disappointment was when we noted that Nigeria will not be fielding any Olympians this time around. You may laugh at the idea, but this is a huge country and plenty of 'summer all year round' places had competitors - Tonga was there, Togo had what looked like a dozen people, Thailand, Jamaica, Zimbabwe... but no Nigeria. Bah humbug.

The second biggest moment of disappointment was of course when our own team came out wearing teacher sweaters. You know the ones I mean. My grandmother has a few and for her they are just right - for a bunch of athletes at a kind-of-a-big-deal event? Blech. Luckily I've heard that we have better uniforms for the rest of the games.

Also - a big shout-out to Paraguay, the only country I noticed with only one Olympian. Apparently this is the first Winter Olympian from Paraguay and what with the family connection I will definitely be rooting for her. (Read about her here.)

One final observation - the Washington Post had an article about how hotel complaints are being overshadowed by both the scale of the ceremonies and the bigger issues at play behind the scenes. Good! The particular glee with which people have been pointing out flaws in Russia's infrastructure ought to embarrass us. First, because it's ungracious for guests in any context to complain about what our hosts offer. Second, because there are so many more important issues to write about. Granted, human rights, inequality and the freedom of the press don't play as well as '"Ew my hotel room is gross," but I think the American public can be trusted to read the tough stuff too. (Ironically, however, I have to bow out of that discussion myself as a sometime-representative of the US government.)

So there it is. All that I have to say about the Winter Olympics so far. You're welcome.

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