The Beijing Olympics ended today. Interestingly, I didn’t really care. I did not have much interest in these Olympics, although my wife — who was born in China — spent plenty of time watching the games. My son also enjoyed watching some of the events. However, even my wife did not spend as much time watching the Olympics as one might think for an Olympics hosted for the first time by her birth nation. I didn’t have much interest partly because life has been so busy here, and partly because I feel quite isolated from the rest of the world in Paraguay. I thought about the Olympics when walking past the Paraguayan Olympic Committee’s training facility yesterday, but only fleetingly. Likewise, I spent perhaps 15 minutes in several installments watching the games. The coverage — Argentine cable broadcast from Buenos Aires — wasn’t very good. Once upon a time, when I was much younger, I spent untold hours watching Olympic event after Olympic event. Not anymore.
Somewhere along the way, I lost interest. I just wasn’t that interested in the games this year. The most intriguing aspects of this summer’s Olympics were the controversies; and even those weren’t very noteworthy. Of coure, it was a tragedy that the American family was attacked by a knife-wielding Chinese. So the fireworks during the Opening Ceremony were enhanced, and the Chinese had a pretty girl lip-sync in lieu of not-so-cute one who sang the national anthem. Or the Armenian-Swedish wrestler who was stripped of his medal for unsportsman-like conduct but turn out to be right when he contested a bad call. Or the apparently underage Chinese gymnast the IOC absolved in three hours. Even the debate over medal counts didn’t stir up much fury in me. The U.S. won 110 medals; the Chinese 100. The Chinese won 51 gold medals, the American 36. The IOC and the rest of the world would say that the Chinese won based on the IOC’s regulations (which, obviously based on the gymnast age controversy, can be bent when necessary). Yet the American media stubbornly continued to rank the U.S. first.
None of it really matters, in the end. The Chinese staged an excellent Summer Olympics, and they will continue to be a presence in the future. The IOC will continue to make flaky decisions and annoyingly appeal to nationalist sentiments to bolster support for what is — when you boil the games down to its essence — really just a large collection of sporting events. Someday, the United States will host the games again, perhaps as early as 2016 in Chicago. Someday, India and Brazil will host an Olympics; someday Shanghai, China will host the Summer Olympics, and Harbin, China will host the Winter Olympics. But for now, I really want to know why I really don’t care all that much anymore.