THEATRE OF THE ABSURD
absurd: plainly not true, logical, or sensible;
so contrary to reason that it is laughable;
The 2002 Winter Games opened in Salt Lake City with a US$37-million ceremony drenched in emotional references to 9-ll and draped in pageantry and patriotic red, white and blue. "I want the stands rocking with people cheering U-S-A," said the CEO of the US Olympic Committee. Opening ceremonies were held at Rice-Eccles Olympic Stadium. (Does anyone know who Rice or Eccles are?)
These Winter Games will be the most expensive in history costing US$1.9-billion, not including the US$300-million spent on security. (And this during a time when millions of Americans are out of work due to their jobs being given to slave labourers in third world and communist countries).
2,500 athletes from 77 countries marched in the parade (including drug-enhanced athletes from communist nations but Canada's retired 1998 Japan Olympics snowboard gold-medallist was not allowed in the country because he had inhaled some second-hand pot smoke during a party four years ago).
Canada's skaters and skating coaches were not allowed to bring their skates with them on the planes. Family members had to deliver the skates by car to Utah.
The USA President's opening remarks emphasized ideals of liberty and freedom while at the same time ordering the Secret Service to oversee a security force of more than 15,000 troops, police and secret service agents, Black Hawk helicopters and F-16 fighter jets armed with anti-aircraft missiles representing a bigger US military presence than in any other theatre in the world.
In Salt Lake City soldiers with M-16 rifles and bomb-sniffing dogs patrol all the major compounds, while close-circuit cameras scan the streets, linked to an intelligence centre in Washington. Assault teams are on standby, as are specialized units monitoring for biological or chemical threats. Thousands of doses of anti-anthrax drugs have also been stockpiled.
Around the stadium a maze of fences and checkpoints stretch up to 800 metres from its perimeter. Police patrol the fences on all-terrain vehicles and snipers take aim from nearby buildings. People paying US$885 for tickets stand in line for two hours and are scanned and frisked before entry. Helicopters hover.
"This will be a safe place." said the Utah Governor.
A tattered American flag that is being touted as having been recovered on the third day from the ruins of the World Trade Centre was carried in by an honour guard of USA athletes, police and firefighters. It's ash stained and missing 12 stars. (How did a flag and a passport survive the inferno and remain intact when the rest of the 220-vertical acres of concrete and steel became unrecongizable debris?)
This "Ground Zero" flag goes everywhere. It's been carried to Kandahar, the World Series and the Super Bowl.
In addition to President Bush, Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary-General was in attendance, marking the first time the sitting head of the UN had attended the opening of an Olympic Games.
When speaking to the athletes Bush had one thing to say: "Let's roll!"
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~