I bet you didn’t know that the 2010 Youth Olympic Games kick off in just eight days.
It’s slightly less than a week until the kickoff of the world’s first Youth Olympic Games, and the overpowering mood in Singapore is that NOBODY CARES. Maybe I’m jaded. Maybe the host nation has spectacularly dropped the publicity ball. But it’s hard to shake the impression that nobody, nobody gives a toss.
And that comes despite the fact that this is probably Singapore’s best chance ever to land their first Olympic gold medal, with a full contingent of 70 athletes competing across 26 events. Singapore’s first appearance on the Olympic podium only came in 2008, when their womens’ doubles table-tennis team walked away with the silver medal – which promptly sparked a charged debate about Singapore’s identity, because all three team members were born in China and became Singaporean citizens through the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme.
UPDATE: I wuz wrong! An observant reader pointed out that the Beijing silver medal was Singapore’s second taste of Olympic glory, not its first. Singapore won its first medal at Rome in 1960, when Tan Howe Liang won silver in the men’s lightweight weightlifting (and gold at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, where he set a world record in the clean and jerk). Credit where credit is due.
Sydney at this stage of the 2000 Olympics countdown was an absolute madhouse. The papers were going nuts. People were excited. People were complaining about the transport mayhem. But in Singapore, there’s not been much in the papers (two articles today). People aren’t excited. There’s no transport mayhem (the Grand Prix will cause more traffic problems than the Youth Olympics).
And unlike Sydney, there’re no dry mockumentaries making fun of the whole thing. Back in 2000, Australia gave the world The Games, which ruthlessly satirised the bureaucracy behind the Olympics, achieved fame for broadcasting John Howard’s apology to the Stolen Generations, attempted to include ballroom dancing in the Olympics, smuggled Scottish skeet-shooters into the country disguised as Bulgarian wrestlers, and introduced the 94-metre running track to the Australian lexicon:
Imagine the equivalent for Singapore 2010:
We’re stuffed. It’s one week to showtime. We’ve got three hundred thousand tickets to sell. How many have we sold? One hundred thousand – and that’s only because those clowns in the Education Ministry took down eighty thousand. We are stuffed, Bryan, what are we?
Exactly, Bryan, we are stuffed, we are stuffed like a Christmas chook.
Because satire works best when it’s got a grain of truth.