The Sniper's Guide to the Bird's Nest
By Andrew Jennings
CLICK in a bullet. Crosshairs. Down a bit, left a bit. A clear view of the stand of Honour. The Lords of the Rings and their Partners. Berlusconi and Bush, they’re for another time, concentrate on the officials who stole and sold our sports. And the businessmen who learned from Gramsci’s prison notebooks. Hey, this commie saw how to make business bigger. Look at the hegemony stuff. Smarter than Milton Friedman.
This press enclosure is perfect for an assassin. The reporters, who can’t see the needle tracks up the athletes’ limbs, don’t notice the nearly two-metre long machine in my hands. Neither do the blue-tracksuited thugs. They don’t expect trouble from this quarter of the stadium.
A test. Crosshairs on the artfully twisted metal above their heads.
A fragment of paint flies off. A Coca-Cola executive flicks his shoulder and looks upwards. A bird in the Bird’s Nest?
Somebody has to do this.
The sacred torch with its sacred flame came pounding down a long road from sacred Tibet. News can get delayed here in Beijing so we don’t know how many IOC members were mingling with the sacred crowds, immersed in the rapturous reception. But they will have, because their rules say they must.
Now it’s here! Heading for the sacred cauldron, above it the sacred flag and now we sing the sacred Olympic anthem . . . actually we just move our lips airlessly because we don’t know the sacred words. The programme for the Opening Ceremony says it was composed by somebody called Spiro Samara who died in 1917.
I don’t play the Coubertin game. Those who want, can visit the Boix-de-Vaux cemetery in Lausanne. But if you want to get to the heart of the matter, they ripped that out and buried it in Greece.
SWITZERLAND has an honourable tradition of offering refuge to exiles. Lenin and de Coubertin overlapped during World War One and you have to wonder if, stranded one chill winter night in a railway waiting room somewhere between Zurich and Geneva, they compared notes on building revolutionary organisations.
‘You are a bunch of aristocratic dinosaurs,’ sneered Vladimir Ilyich, ‘My revolutionary party will drag you to the guillotine.’
‘Mine will outlive yours,’ predicted the dapper Frenchman, twirling his splendid mustache, ‘We practice something called democratic centralism.’
‘Tell me more, Pierre,’ inquired Vladimir Ilyich, opening his ‘When I return to St Petersburg’ notebook.
‘We have a strong leader, a strict internal hierarchy and we vet new party members carefully. We appeal to the masses and command a compliant media.’
‘So sport will become the opium of the people,’ mused Vladimir Ilyich, scribbling furiously.
‘There will be a second world war, you will become a superpower and sport will be a weapon of your ascendancy.’
‘Why will you survive longer than the workers’ party?
‘We will employ Hill & Knowlton to write our press releases and the media will publish them in full.’ Continued...