Olympic torch scales Mt. Everest!

Anyone who knows Christine and myself knows that we are huge Olympic geeks. I’m not kidding, we literally do not leave the house when they’re on. We Tivo EVERYTHING, and though we are total suckers for those “pull the strings” video bios on the athletes, we are also kinda crazy about the lesser events in the games. Seriously, the weirder the sport, the more we love it.

I actually watched every curling event during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. Especially the women’s, which, my apologies to American skip Pete Fenson, was always way more dramatic than the men’s games.

And while I could go on for hours about the dramatic final “end” (round) of the Gold Medal match-up between the Women’s Curling teams from Sweden and Switzerland — Sweden won, thanks to an amazing last-minute double take-out by their skip, Anette Norberg — I’ll spare you the details and simply say that we loves us some Olympics. My football-crazed friend Matt actually jokes that my favorite sport is Olympics…and he’s right!

So, you can understand our conflicted feelings this year when there has been so much drama about China hosting the Summer Games in Beijing. I mean, on the one hand, I feel kinda bad for the Chinese people. Here they finally score an Olympic games and all everyone wants to talk about is Tibet.

But on the other hand, why the hell did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even grant them the opportunity to host the games in the first place? I mean, was China any less suppressive a few years back when they were selected to host the games? Hell no! If anything, things were worse then. So, why reward such bad behavior by allowing them to host the games at all? Crazy!

Of course, this is the same organization that held the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany, so, I guess their record isn’t so hot. But, in my mind, the blame for this whole mess lies entirely on the IOC’s doorstep. As a hugely powerful organization, with the ability to take a stand for human rights by the very nature of their picks, they simply should not have picked China to begin with.

Or, perhaps they could have said: “Hey, China, we’ll pick you if you clean up your act.” At least that would have sent the message to the world. Treat your people right we’ll let you host the games…treat your people like hell and you get zip.

But since the IOC did neither of these things, we are now officially stuck with China as a host country. And as a super fan of the games, I think we might as well just accept the fact that the “bad guys” are hosting this year’s Summer Olympics and get on with it.

I’m not saying we should be happy about it or that we should not try to blow out that torch when it passes through our cities — rock on, SF! — but hey, the games are gonna happen one way or another, and if you’re a fan of the games and not the country where they are being held, well…you’re probably gonna watch them. Or, at least we are…

Anyway, since there has been so much controversy about the Olympic torch relay the last few weeks, I was kind of thrilled to see something good being written about it today when I read that Chinese hikers had lit the Olympic flame at the peak of Mt. Everest. And better yet, the woman who held the flame at the top of the peak was ethnic Tibetan, Ciren Wangmu. Rock on, Tibet!

I know what you’re thinking…propaganda much? Of course China let a Tibetan woman carry the torch the last few feet…what else they gonna do at this point?

But, whether it was a callous PR stunt or not, the fact that hikers climbed to the top of Mt. Everest with the Olympic flame secured in a little can and then lit a series of torches in the howling wind and snow at the top of the world is still pretty damn cool in my book.

Check out the video feed from the adventure at: Reuters.com and if that grainy, un-subtitled footage of those Chinese hikers schlepping up that mountain with the flame doesn’t fill your heart with the spirit of the games, then, well…maybe you just don’t like the Olympics, my friend.

Seriously though, that video is the spirit of the games in action, and even if you don’t support China’s heavy-handed tactics or their recent crack down on Tibet, you gotta admit that what happened on the rooftop of the world this morning is perhaps the first true Olympic moment of the games. Awesome!

The photos are taken from a number of sources online, many thanks to the brave photographers who weathered the cold to get them!

1 Comment

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One response to “Olympic torch scales Mt. Everest!

  1. You expressed my feelings exactly, my Olympic-loving comrade.

    Although I love the games, I feel it was awarded to China prematurely. Especially when you consider the Tiananmen Square student massacre was only maybe a dozen years earlier than the IOC vote.

    Then again, another part of me believes that more economic development will lead to more openness within governments, ultimately offering more rights to the people.

    It did happen with South Korea after the ’88 games, which transformed from a military dictatorship into a democracy. Granted, I don’t think the Olympics can take sole credit, but I do believe they played some part in it.

    And if you look at it from the point of view of the Chinese, I think these worldwide protests of the torch are a huge wake-up call. So in effect, the games just may very well create a shift for China. It’s too soon to tell, but I look forward to seeing what happens.

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