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Thursday, April 22 2010

Top 10 Media Subplots If Jerusalem Hosts Olympics

Olympic_ringsShould the world community award the 2020 Olympics to Jerusalem as an incentive for Israelis and Palestinians to make peace? Udi Sommer thinks so.

The reason why this plan can succeed where others have failed is threefold: It puts economic payoffs front and center, requires cooperation on a large scale, and involves sublimation of otherwise deadly instincts.

Judge for yourself whether Sommer overdosed on Salam Fayyad and Start Up Nation.

In the meantime, here's my Top 10 List of Media Subplots If Jerusalem Hosts the 2020 Olympics.

10. British, Turkish and Greek windsurfing teams all feature veterans of previous Free Gaza flotillas.

9. Sick of wall-to-wall coverage of dumb events like speed walking, table tennis and skateboarding, the IDF restricts media access to certain venues. Relieved journos and the Nielsen ratings officials praise the news blackout.

8. The burning question: Will Anat Kamm leak Olympic drug test results to Haaretz?

7. Feuding Gaza vs. Palestine soccer teams give new meaning to "sudden death overtime."

6. Iran boycotts Olympiad, organizes alternative Islamic Nuclear Pride Games. President Hillary Clinton doesn't rule out US participation.

5. After Israeli hoopsters upset the USA Dream Team, players attribute victory to Olympic schedule which banned events and training on the Sabbath. But American sportswriters grumble about an Israel lobby undermining US interests.

4. Michael Phelps marries a Palestinian athlete and seeks UNRWA refugee status.

3. Security cameras catch Dubai's mysterious tennis team loaning passports to unsuspecting competitors.

2. Bloggers on warpath when Olympic judge Richard Goldstone repeatedly gives unusually low scores to Israeli gymnasts.

1. Will sparks fly at closing ceremony when Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat passes torch to Mayor Rahm Emanuel of 2024 host city Chicago?



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Absulutly so!

A slightly different idea, closer to one that was a runner up in an MIT conference Jerusalem 2050. The IOC Charter does not permit multiple nations to host Olympics games, but maybe that could change:

One evening I looked at a map of Israel and I realized that the combined colors of the flags of Israel and the Palestine Authority were just about the same as those of the Olympic rings.


There were many news stories questioning whether Athens, Greece would have its infrastructure ready for its Olympics. Even the International Olympic Committee wondered aloud whether future Games would need to be regional, in order for multiple countries to absorb the multi-billion dollar costs.

So - what if, someday, somehow, Jerusalem could host the Summer Olympics, with all of the surrounding nations hosting key elements of the Games?
 What if the opening and closing ceremonies could be held in Jerusalem, with
 Lebanon, long known as a tourist destination, taking charge of the hospitality?
 The Palestinian Authority recognizing the tourism possibilities, and arranging extensive tours of Biblical sites within its areas?
 Egypt hosting some of the water events?
 Saudi Arabia leading the equestrian events, in honor of its namesake horse breed?
 Imagine a spectacular marathon run from an archeological site in Jordan into Israel -

Impossible! Preposterous! There’s a war going on, terrorists and dictators destroying everything they touch. The current proposals for peace are tired and obsolete - “land for peace” results in more bombs, ever closer to all parts of Israel; “ceasefires” are hudnas, opportunities for re-armament for terrorists; international peacekeeping forces are toothless, unable and/or unwilling to do anything more than watch war preparations with binoculars. We need something different.

So - it would take perhaps 2 generations - 40-50 years - before such a Games could happen. But think of the consequences of even the preparation; we’ve seen it with each Games:
 The host country upgrades all of its infrastructure - roads and all methods of transportation, housing, communications, utilities;
 People worldwide watch, or better yet visit and participate in a spectacle that [generally] shows the best of human competition and cooperation.

Think of some of the current problems of the Middle East, and how such a regional Games might help:
 Most Arab countries suffer from high unemployment rates, a dictatorial ruling class, high poverty rates, little or no middle class. They have high numbers of young males, many educated with college degrees and nothing to do. Idle hands are the Devil’s, the saying goes, and such people are ready prey for extreme, violent talk that blames “the other” and promises a quick fix for what appears to be a future of little hope.
 Building and upgrading a country’s infrastructure requires workers of all skills and levels, and many would need to be engineers, architects, construction workers, communications technicians, translators, electricians, plumbers, and many other professions that make up the middle classes throughout the world. The Arab host countries could create and/or enhance a middle class that would in turn help those nations for generations after the Games.

Think of human nature. We are all competitive to varying degrees. Competitions are won in 2 ways - everyone competes to the best of his or her ability, and one simply proves better than the rest; or, someone sabotages the competition and hopes to be the last one left standing. War is the extreme example of the second type of competition; the Olympics usually highlight the first type. What if we could channel the basic human competitive desire toward the better type? What if each nation, as it agreed to take responsibility for key elements of the Games, said, “We’ll prove to the rest of the world that we can do this part better than anyone!” With their reputations on the line, they would succeed.

We are all persuaded by the same means - most powerfully by a two-pronged approach: first we must be convinced that our current thinking or way of doing things is wrong or bad or just not the best, and second, we must be convinced that another alternative is better. Worldwide, the Jihadis offer no alternatives; they emphasize and demonstrate destruction. It’s no accident that terrorists have tried to blow up newly [re]built schools, clinics, hospitals, shops; they know nothing else. The Olympics are that something else. The pride and energy that such an overarching project would require could literally steamroll the Jihadist philosophy into oblivion.

I visited Atlanta in 1978 and didn’t want to go downtown. Now I work in Atlanta, and, 10 years after it hosted the Olympics, I walk through Centennial Olympic Park at least weekly, walk throughout downtown Atlanta many weekdays, and I see the continuing, positive effects of the 1996 Olympics. The entire Middle East deserves no less. (Think of it as “Ping Pong diplomacy gone global!” and how [mainland] China has changed in the past 35 years.)

But how? I’m writing all of you because I don’t know what to do with this idea. If the ultimate goal would likely not be reached for decades, what interim steps would be best? Have countries in the Middle East host regional sports events beyond what they currently do? Have an Olympics hosted by multiple nations in a more stable part of the world, perhaps the Scandinavian area, or the newer eastern European nations, or parts of South America? Both?

I emailed the International Olympic Committee because it was studying the feasibility of regional Games and did not receive a response - no surprise. I’ve thought of starting a web blog to generate support (the “pull” method of marketing - interest the ultimate customer and business will follow). I’m willing to do whatever I can, wherever I can, to pursue this idea. I look forward to your thoughts.

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