In Paris, the Olympics are all about judo

With the possible exception of their gross commercialism, the worst part about the Olympic Games is the jingoism: the relentless plucking at the heartstrings of nationhood about fellow citizens who overcome adversity to win gold.  But to have to watch someone else’s jingoism is truly excruciating.  In Paris, they have set up a giant television screen in the plaza in front of the Hôtel de Ville — this is admirably within the democratic spirit of the Games — and laid out Fatboy cushions so all the athleticism on screen can be watched from a position of maximum sloth.  But with a plethora of events going on simultaneously the producers at the channel France 2 must choose what to show at any given time and it is here that things fall apart.  While Roger Federer — once again world #1 in tennis after his Wimbledon triumph — was in an epic duel against Juan Martin Del Potro that went 36 games in the (no tie break) third set and ranks among the greatest tennis matches every played at the Olympics, I was watching not even an event but the medals ceremony for an event long over (won by a Frenchman, it goes without saying) and then, after a brief teaser of tennis that saw Federer two points from victory, they cut away again — to the trampoline.  I mean, the trampoline!  The mind reels.  Worse, the Frenchman in competition was soon trounced so the whole thing was for naught.  Likewise, I had no idea that the single most important sport played at the Olympics was judo, but so one would have to assume from the wall-to-wall coverage given it by France 2.  Incidentally, Teddy Riner won the gold medal in the men’s 100kg+ category.  For France, of course.  Never heard of him?  Nor had I, but I assure you tous les Français le connaissent.  And Lucie Décosse won gold, too, in the women’s 70kg category — also French.  It is not that France is making a poor showing in these Games: they have won 22 medals so far and rank sixth.  I just wish they were better at the major events.


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