‘POR FIN’ (at last) was headline on one of the Catalonian ‘red tops’ on Wednesday, August 8th, 2012, the day after Spain had won its first gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
If those of you who lived in the UK during those two weeks thought there was nothing more important on the planet than the Olympic Games you can, perhaps, be consoled that (for some people) it was of equal importance in Spain as well.
In Britain things were muted when the first gold medal winner was tardy in stepping up to the podium. Favourites were failing to quite get that illusive piece of metal and fears were growing that Team GB (nearly always forgetting to mention Northern Ireland) might have a disastrous Olympics and the home advantage would be lost. Nothing was said but there was definitely a sensation the country could end up with egg on its face and politicians were fearing they wouldn’t be able to make political capital out of any sporting success that came the country’s way.
Now they’ve swung in completely the opposite direction and have announced a parade as if the athletes were victors in some foreign war. Wouldn’t it have been more in the spirit of the Olympics that such a parade was planned before the medal tally was known? Is it only an achievement if the numbers of medal are high and the country can claim that it won the bronze medal in the international competition? And what about poor Rio de Janeiro, having to follow the ‘greatest games EVER’? ‘It’s not the winning that matters, it’s the competing that counts’ is obviously a thing of the past and modern states don’t like you unless you’re a winner.
But back to Spain. If it was bad in Britain imagine what it was like there, having to wait another 6 days after the British were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The Spanish weren’t able to get much closer to Britain’s total by the time of the closing ceremony on Sunday but I’m sure the Tories in power in Spain are feeling envious of their allies in London who are able to distract the population from the crisis through which the country is living by calling on the Olympic ‘feel good factor’.
And will Spain now be encouraged to call a victory parade for its athletes or would that only be drawing attention to their 21st placing?