Political and Athletic Predictions for the 2012 London Olympics
Soon, many of us will be experiencing post-Olympics withdrawal once the Birds Nest blaze is snuffed in Beijing. There will be no more Misty May and Kerry Walsh passing, digging, and spiking volleyballs and then celebrating with hugs. No more Jamaicans leaving the rest of the world behind in their speedy colorful wake on the track. No more emoting about gymnastics and its awful judging by the passionate Bela Karoyli in his thick Romanian accent to NBC's Bob Costas.
Since it's never too early to start looking ahead to the 2012 London Olympics, allow me to make some predictions. I'm sticking to my Huffpost landing with these premature observations.
Madonna wages a fierce and costly public-relations campaign to perform at the opening night ceremony in London. Instead, her request is declined, and so she petulantly decides to move to Australia where she opens a kabalah center in Sydney.
Gold medal giant China continues to fast-track its successful Soviet-style sports program, focusing in track and field where it still lags far behind traditional powerhouses like Kenya, United States, and Jamaica. The Brits will have to get used to hearing the Chinese national anthem, "The March of The Volunteers," being played over and over at the medal ceremonies.
Pity those Chinese athletes who only managed to take home bronze or silver in Beijing. Many were sent off to their respective sports academies just one day after the jaw-dropping closing night ceremony. They were told they couldn't go home to visit their parents, but were instructed to immediately begin training for 2012.
Worse off were Chinese athletes who failed to medal in Beijing. They were shipped off for several years to "political re-education through labor" detention camps where they joined incarcerated activists, dissidents, and journalists.
A small Chinese troop of pre-pubescent girls who excel in gymnastics were given special no-growth drugs to delay maturation, while their birth certificates were destroyed and replaced with new ones sporting older birth dates by several years. Wait, Chinese age-doping already happened in 2008.
Starting in 2010, non-violent anti-Darfur protests are staged in London outside the Chinese embassy, a far cry from 2008 when Team Darfur protests were banned in Beijing. Despite furious phone calls by Chinese officials to the British government, the protests are allowed to continue in London. None of the Murdoch newspapers or television stations, however, choose to cover the demonstrations. (It has too many business interests in China.) As for the British police, they disinterestedly watch the protests from a safe, agreed-upon distance, that is, until one day, a protester, who turns out to be a Chinese secret agent, throws several smoke bombs at the bobbies, and then all hell breaks loose..
Two months before the start of the 2012 Games, one thousand Tibetan monks in colorful robes walk across England from Manchester to London to protest the desecration of monasteries in their homeland.
Michael Phleps proudly shlepps Team USA's flag at the opening ceremony. He will be aiming for 10 gold medals this time around, but age, stiffer competition, and the demands of being a global celebrity and marketing pitchman have severely impacted his training. He will only win five gold medals, and his cheerful, goofy grin is now replaced by a semi-permanent scowl and 100-meter stare.
Supermom swimmer Dara Torres will have turned 45, and yet, she qualifies for Team USA once again. So what keeps her motivated? She tells the media, "My daughter is six and I want her to see me compete since this is my sixth, and final Olympics." Torres misses getting a bronze in the 100-meter freestyle by .01 of a second.
Tennis great Roger Federer, hoping to stage a comeback after two years of retirement, loses in the first round to an unranked player from Estonia.
Women's world-record holder in the marathon, Paula Radcliffe, is favored by English bookies to win the marathon. In 2002, she was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Radcliffe, who raced poorly in Beijing due to a stress fracture in her hip, lives today as a tax exile in Monaco.
Much to the chagrin of NBA commissioner David Stern, Kobe Bryant, who speaks Italian and grew up in Italy, leaves the Lakers and joins a team in the Italian basketball league in 2010. At the London Olympics, he plays for Italy. LeBron James also exits America for a foreign country, but his price tag is steeper-- a half-billion dollars for two years. He will play for Dubai's Desert Dream Team at the London Games.
Despite hosting the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, a resort city on the Black Sea, Russia boycotts the London Games to protest mounting NATO military and economic pressure to withdraw its troops from Georgia. It's a sad, sad summer for their star pole vaulters, high jumpers, gymnasts, and wrestlers who won't be competing.
Up for re-election in 2012, President Barack Obama planned on attending the London Games, but a looming international crisis in Kashmir between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan demands his full attention, and so he is forced to cancel the trip, though he does invite Team USA's basketball squad over to the White House for a game of hoops on the newly installed court.
His 2012 Republican presidential opponent, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, holds a press conference where he says, "President Obama's failure to attend the London Games and support our Olympic athletes-- when my brother George unselfishly went to the Beijing Games --is yet another stark example of President Obama's elitism and his complete absence of patriotic spirit. The London no-show by our current president is proof that he holds unAmerican values and does not deserve to be re-elected,"
Instead of the White House responding to Jeb Bush's comments, 2008 YouTube clips of President George W. Bush clowning around on the beach volleyball court while Russian tanks roll into Georgia do the trick; there's three million hits in one week!