Public First Program


Shane Elson


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+61-3-5952 5780

+61-4-1349 7828

August 2008 # 1

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Back to Editorials 2008

The Royal Gosper

Everyone loves freebies. You know, a free hat or t-shirt to remember an event by. Even Royalty like to be in on them. The Olympic Family are royalty. Well at least that’s what they like to think of themselves as, not mere mortals who must adhere to the strictures of even mundane things like “the truth” or “moral obligation”. No, this group, who control the multibillion-dollar circus we lovingly call “The Olympics”, are not like us. They inhabit a universe to which many aspire but must remain satisfied just observing. 

Take for instance the 2000 Sydney games. You remember them. “Our” Cathy running in and the Big Barby groaning its way up the ramp while she stood there all wet and dripping. Boy, did we show them how it was done. Well, at least until Athens. But back to Sydney. 

You may recall the little ‘hiccup’ Kevan Gosper caused when he pulled rank and got the Greek-Australian girl, Yianna Souleles, kicked off the Olympic relay. He had obviously promised his little girl, Sophie, that she would be the first Australian to hold the torch when it touched down here and as a dad needed to fulfil the promise. At the time another member of the “Olympic Family” jumped to Gosper’s defence and said the whole thing was a storm in a tea cup and that the “Olympic Family” were all happy. 

Of course, as an International Olympic Committee Vice President and the then Vice President of the Sydney games, none of us should jump to any conclusions here. “Our” Kevan is a highly distinguished man. Fifty years ago he was part of a team that won a race. He has also been an oil man and a Director of a number of high profile companies including Richard Pratt’s Visy, Packer’s Crown and brewer Lion Nathan. He is currently in his 20th year as Chairperson of the Olympic Press Commission and is the Deputy Chair of the Bejing Organizing Committee. 

While Kevan is probably a really nice man who loves his family and would rather see his daughter hold up a flaming stick than allow mere agreements and protocols to get in the way, I don’t think he is man I could trust. I mean, he has come out all warm and gooey over the Bejing internet scam and taken the blame for it all. I think he’s just a good PR front man who was feeling a little ignored by the media and wanted the opportunity to get his mug on camera. 

Nonetheless, here’s the facts as we know them. China is a totalitarian state. The ruling class there don’t like anything causing them inconvenience. They forced poor old Rupert to drop the BBC from his satellite service and bent the arm of Google and Yahoo till they gave in and set up internet filters to keep out anything the rulers took umbrage at. However, the rulers of the Olympic Family said they had made sure international journalists would have uncensored internet access for the Games period. Guaranteed! The Chinese organizers said they would cooperate with the IOC and ensure just that. Well, as we know, someone lied. 

“Our” Kevan then admits he is embarrassed at the backroom deal done by someone higher up in the Family agreeing that internet censorship did not need to be lifted. Someone higher? He’s a VP. Surely the only one higher would be the President, Jacques Rogge? Well, good old Jacques came out and said no deals had been done and it would all be OK. But is it? Not really. Here’s what “our” Kevan had to say on the 7:30 Report. 

Early in an interview with “our” Kerry O’Brian, “our” Kevan said that there had been no deal on “increased censorship”. Do we imply from this that, according to him, a little bit of censorship is OK?  Using pornography and subversive websites as examples, “our” Kevan told “our” Kerry that all countries have some degree of censorship and that this “grey” area was where things tipped over. According to Kevan “what we have now is very reasonable in terms of what the broadcasters and the press need to report on the Games.” He then slipped up big time. 

In the next sentence he let it slip that all along the IOC and its rulers allowed China to impose as much restriction on internet access as it could. Note his words. “Overall I believe you will find the reporting for an audience of 4.1 or 4.2 billion people will be absolutely consistently, almost consistent, I've changed my word, but certainly satisfactory to the viewers as it had been in past Games”. Notice the qualifications. From “absolutely” consistent to “almost consistent”, all the way down to “satisfactory”. By employing the best propaganda techniques he is saying, in effect, ‘we wont allow anything that might upset the Chinese get through and we are happy to collaborate with them in reaching that goal’. 

“Our” Kevan went on to say that the Chinese government wanted to show off the Chinese “way of life”. A rather strange comment given that they won’t brook any protests, bussed the vagrants out of the city, won’t allow any view that diverges from the Party’s and are doing all they can to stamp out “differences” over the Tibet “problem”. I guess the only thing we can draw from Kevan’s comment is that the Chinese government only wants us to see what they want us to see. A bit like the Howard government in 2000 not wanting the international media to report on his regime’s appalling treatment of our Indigenous people. The only ‘authorised’ Aboriginality allowed in the lead up to and during the Sydney Olympics was that which conformed to the patronising and colonialist perspective of the first Australians as ‘noble savages’. 

But Kevan was not satisfied with the inherent contradictions in his defence of the Olympic Family and the way it does its business. When asked what his thoughts were regarding athlete’s right to protest, he said they should not worry about that and focus on their events. Kevan said “There are any number of NGOs, non-government organizations, out there, through to Amnesty International, pro-Tibetan groups; you name it, that's their role to work with Governments.” I had to think about that for a nanosecond. Then I remembered. They were the ones the Great Chinese Firewall blocked. Now, I’m not the brightest spark in the fire, but surely Kevan doesn’t want us to take him seriously, does he? 

The Olympic Family is just another multinational corporation that has, in modern times, been used as a vehicle for nationalism, geopolitics, the promotion of the most unhealthy foods and beverages you can think of, feeds off a ‘winner takes all’ mentality, plays up the culture of celebrity and privilege and allows government repression of those who it believes might stand in the way of, as Kevan says, the “harmony” of the games. 

The Olympic Family are, nonetheless, royalty. They are no different from the other despotic and fascist ruling clans that precede them. They are a law unto themselves, given to whims and fancies that turn the dreams of mere mortals to dust. They lie, cheat, and stab each other in the back if things don’t go their way. They believe that they are more important than the heads of the states their games are played in. They make demands which weak and grovelling governments give into. They demand absolute league and their pound of flesh. They are corrupt and like all Royalty and they don’t give a toss about the poverty that exists on their door step. Nor do they care about the mess they leave behind. The only harmony they want is that which allows them to get a free ride, the best hotels and seats in the house and a free souvenir t-shirt.

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