Saturday, August 14, 2004


A glimmer of hope for the Olympics - and for Iraq

The Olympics will be in many respects a sad and sordid affair. Nonetheless I hope this is a glimpse of what sport at its best can be, what it can mean to people and nations:

“This victory will be received with happiness by my people, who have suffered through much,” said Iraqi coach Adnan Hamad, whose countrymen were already taking to the streets of Baghdad, lighting up the night sky with streaks of celebratory gunfire.

The stunning victory over a team that made it to final of the recent Euro 2004 tournament brought a rare moment of joy for Iraqis plagued by violence, chaos and constant power outages.Across their homeland, they watched the game on television at home and at cafes. Even people at a Baghdad barbershop took time out of their late-night haircuts to celebrate the goals."

One comment though. According to the report:

"Iraq was a surprise addition to the Olympic tournament. The nation managed to cobble together a team amid ongoing conflict at home and efforts to rebuild an Olympic committee that was previously run by Saddam Hussein’s late son, Odai, who allegedly tortured players when they fell out of favor."

Really, can we get rid of that "allegedly" now?

(Latter link via Chris Young, who some time ago surmised the situation laconicly, but, I think, perfectly eloquently).

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