The 2008 Summer Olympics were some of the most exciting Olympics ever. Riots in Tibet, protests on the Olympic torch relay, an earthquake in Sichuan – for reporters, it was a wet dream. There was even a war to cover. As the Opening Ceremony commenced, the whole world got to see Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush, seated together, awkwardly discussing the Russian army’s advance into Georgia.
The sporting events themselves were also pretty nice to watch.
The 2012 Olympics? Not so exciting. There have been no wars this time. Nor any interesting protests (although Mitt Romney did manage to insult the United Kingdom). Was there even an Olympic torch relay?
Even the sports are less interesting; Michael Phelps is no longer winning eight gold medals.
Of course, there’s a good reason why these games have been so much relatively less interesting. The host of the 2012 Olympic Games is the United Kingdom, which has been a very boring country ever since losing its empire. Since then the U.K. has happily bubbled along as a wealthy European country which has studiously avoided doing anything that would make news. The London Olympics have thus been reduced to a mere sporting event.
In 2008, the host was China. And China is a very interesting country; it constantly makes the newspaper headlines. A lot of people have very strong feelings about China, something that isn’t the case for the United Kingdom. In 2008 both China and its varied opposition were determined to politicize the Olympics. They were extremely successful. The Olympics were thus quite memorable.
The Olympic committee should decide to hold the next games in India or Russia. Or better yet, Israel. A Jerusalem Olympics would be very, very interesting.