Taekwondo – a sport or a child’s name?

Ask me one on sport …

But bear in mind I am not one of those weird people who paint their faces in the club colours, or who yell at the ref, or who call their child Taekwondo because they love it more than … well, their children.

Ask me an easy one, like: the Olympics started yesterday. Where are they being held this year?

Okay, okay …



But that’s about it on the sports front for me. If I’d admitted this four years ago, when the Olympics were at Athens I would have been ashamed. Everyone knew who was running, who’d been accused of taking drugs, which countries were competing and which weren’t. Even I managed to learn that Taekwondo was not Japanese paper folding.

This year I can’t tell you anything about the Olympics. Not as a sport.

I can tell you that the torch relay was an embarrassment; that 16 Chinese policemen have been killed, apparently by terrorists, apparently linked to disruption of the Olympics; and the Chinese authorities tried (and probably succeeded better than we know) to smother free access to the web while foreigners are in the country.

And I can tell you that the Chinese are very proud of their country and their government and of the resilience of the Chinese people, who have suffered the tragedy of earthquakes and the unreasonably bad opinion of the western world when they are nothing more than a happy, patriotic nation that loves its leaders.

I know this because Li Jie, who emails me regularly from central China, tells me so. There are millions of people in China who, it seems, do not see the world as we see it.

But what I can’t tell you is the name of one Australian sportsman or woman who’s taking part.

Yes, I know … I can probably forfeit my citizenship for this, but it’s the truth, and John Howard always said honesty was a fine Australian quality.

If you narrowed it down a bit by asking me for the name of any Australian runner I could come up with Cathy Freeman, but I’d be exhausted. And I don’t think she’s in these Olympics anyway.

But gimme a break. This has been no ordinary Olympiad. I reckon it’s a crock. I did the right thing – I went to the Australian Olympic Games website to be educated and found the bits I wanted to look at were broken. Or hidden.

I could (apparently) do lots of worthless things like download wallpaper for my computer; or watch video clips of 100 of our Olympians. But what about the other 333?

I looked for a list. I got a blank screen. I thought I was looking in an Olympian mirror – because that’s how my mind feels about it all.

It’s become a stunt; a slick sleight-of-hand trick in which everybody (it seems) is trying to cheat without getting busted, including people selling tickets. I’m reminded of a used car salesmen trying to sell a shiny sports model without admitting that the engine’s screwed.

Sorry, but I can’t get excited about it.

And the final straw was when I visited the official Olympic Games 2008 website and discovered synchronised swimming is still an Olympic sport!

Who are these people? Relatives of the organisers? Who watches synchronised swimming? And how?

Personally I’d find it hard to take a village fete seriously if it had synchronised swimming.

I guess I should be grateful — at least it’s not likely to end up as a child’s name.