This week there was a little stooshie in the media and the blogs about the “banning” of the Saltire during the Beijing Olympics. Jamie Hepburn noticed that the Olympic authorities in Beijing will be enforcing an age-old IOC rule which says that “flags of non-members of the Olympics” should not be displayed during the Olympics.
I suppose the reason why this is a particular issue now, as opposed to previous Olympic meetings, is the fact that the Beijing games enables the nationalists to piggy-back on the Free Tibet campaign (as you can see in the penultimate paragraph of the SNP’s press release). Is it just me who thinks this is particularly low?
It is not even as though Scotland is in anything like the same situation as Tibet. The reason Tibet is an issue is because freedom of speech and freedom to choose your own political beliefs is not an option in Tibet. Without these rights, the people of Tibet are left without a voice. That is the issue. The issue in Scotland is that we do have these rights. The problem for the SNP is that despite this great freedom to express a preference for independence, there is precious little clamour for it in Scotland.
Anyway, I agree with most — e.g. Scottish Unionist, Jeff Breslin, Malc in the Burgh — in that the IOC’s rule on flags is absolutely ridiculous. Stephen Glenn points out why the IOC’s strange rules are inappropriate for someone from his kind of background.
But I still think it is pathetic that the SNP even brought the subject up. As has been noted in some of the posts above, it is not even as though the rule is policed that strictly anyway. But as Political Dissuasion notes, all of Britain’s Olympic athletes agreed to take part as a member of Great Britain’s Olympic team so I hardly think it’s beyond the pale to expect them to stick to that commitment.
After all, could you imagine, for instance, a Scottish international footballer scoring a goal then taking his shirt off during the celebration to proudly reveal, say, a Celtic top underneath? Of course, he could be proud of being both a Scotland player and a Celtic player — but it’s just wrong to confuse the two notions.
As Political Dissuasion points out, this is just the sort of guff we have come to expect from nationalists. I don’t mind people expressing their opinion about this sort of thing, but this is blatant political point-scoring and for what? SNP people always come up with this stuff about the Saltire, whether it’s what flutters above Edinburgh Castle or what athletes fly at the Olympics. It’s just pathetic. Aren’t there, you know, important things to worry about?
It’s worth pointing out, too, that even if Scotland were to become independent this would still be an issue. Because while Scotland would enter an Olympic team, flags like this and this would still fall foul of the regulations. For some reason (*cough*oil*cough*) the SNP are quieter about these flags.
My attitude towards this is affected somewhat by the fact that I just don’t “get” flags in general. What on earth are they for? I certainly don’t know what the appeal is. Maybe it is because I’m not so insecure about myself and my identity that I don’t need to attach myself to these symbols. I might be a Scot, but I don’t go around the place grinning about it. First and foremost I am Duncan Stephen, and that’s what concerns me. I would still be Duncan Stephen no matter what nationality I was, so I just don’t see what flags are all about.
This is also one of the many reasons why I can’t stand the Olympics. The emphasis on the nation just gets me down so much. I have written before about why the notion that sportsmen represent their countries is just absolutely ridiculous. A follow-up post at the height of the media-driven rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso subsequently became the most popular post on this blog (according to post ratings).
The Olympics is just the place that shows all the worst aspects of national sport teams. Gibbering, gormless housewives stare at the idiot-box for hours on end watching events such as “discus”, “ping pong”, “yngling” and all manner of other sports that they would otherwise not touch with a bargepole. Yes, it’s great that minority sports get coverage during the Olympics. But they should be getting coverage anyway. At least, if you genuinely did like minority sports you would think that. The fact that it takes the Olympics to get badminton on the television is nothing to be pleased about.
Then when a representative of their country wins a medal, the housewives declare themselves to be “so proud”. Proud of what? They didn’t win the medal — the athlete did! All they have done is sit on their fat arses watching people throwing sticks around. This kind of nationalism only promotes supreme mediocrity and laziness.
And don’t even get me started on the “non political” nature of the Olympics. My hairy arse hole! The fact is that the Olympic Games are the planet’s primary platform for pathetic political posturing. What is the Olympic Spirit? I think it has something to do with Cold War willy-waving.
Then there is all the drugs. I bet you if the Olympics never existed, we wouldn’t even think about drugs in sport. All those countries with dodgy Communist governments come along and drug their athletes to the brim so that they can go around the world feeling smug about themselves for being 13th in the medals table. Yes, the Olympic Games are so noble!
Ah, and don’t forget the great selling-out when they decided there was more money in dropping the requirement that Olympic athletes be amateur. Because of course the pros don’t have enough places to rake in the cash already!
Bleeargh. I’m with Mr Farty. The Olympics can take a running hop, skip and jump.