Friday, 12 August 2016

Rio Olympics & political undercurrents – By Louis Odion, FNGE

By on 17:38
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Vladimir Putin
The ratcheting up of rhetoric between Washington and Moscow over the Syrian conflict lately is surely a chilling reminder of the Cold War between the west and the east last century. While missiles may not be flying directly today between Washington and Moscow out of shared commitment to world peace, the ongoing Rio Olympics would however seem to provide a cover to clobber each all the same.

The seething animosity was very much on display whenever Americans were pitted against Russians since the games opened last weekend. When Kansas-born light flyweight boxer Nico Hernandez climbed the rope square against Vasilii Egorov of Russia Monday night, it was a fistic explosion. With the sheer flood of blows, hooks and uppercuts in the first and second rounds, you would think the much dreaded nuclear button was about to be activated simultaneously in Washington and Moscow.
Louis Odion

Sensing he was trailing behind on the score-card at the opening of the third round, the shorter Egorov brought more aggression against Hernandez whose confidence grew as the seconds ticked away so much that he could afford some fanciful feints to the admiration of the delirious spectators on the pavilion. Eventually, the latter was declared winner, booking a space in the quarterfinal. 
The following day, the triumph of American swimmer Lily King in a grudge match against her Russian arch rival, Yulia Efimova, was no less dramatic. What seemed to sweeten the victory of the nineteen-year-old in the women's 100m breaststroke was that her quarry was among the Russia's contingent earlier accused of doping but only unbanned shortly before the games started. 
When Efimova won the semi-final on Sunday and made a gloating "No. 1" sign, her American rival was shown on the live television wagging her finger disapprovingly. When she won her own semi, she in turn flashed her own "No. 1" sign.
President Barrack Obama
At victory, to rub it in, King quipped: "It just proves that you can compete clean and still come out on top with all the work you put it."
Someone must have nodded in malicious excitement at the Oval Office in Washington. 

Not surprising, defeated Efimova could not conceal her anguish; she burst into tears openly. How will she face usually stone-faced Vladimir Putin on return?
However, she is not alone. Many are inclined to fear worst fate could be awaiting a female athlete from North Korea back home after the games. Gymnast Hong Un-Jong, who won the gold in the women's vault and world champion in 2014 event, apparently got carried away on Monday and helped herself to a selfie with her counterpart from South Korea, Lee Eun-Ju.
President Kim Jong Un
But the political leaders of South Korea and North Korea rarely see eye to eye on the global stage since 1945 when Korea was decided along ideological lines with the North leaning towards communist Soviets while the South befriends the west. Till date, both countries are like cat and mouse with periodic clashes at their borders.
With the shadow of trigger-happy Kim Jong-un still looming across Pyoyang, no one is sure yet if he is amused by that selfie. The reason why Un-Jong needs your prayers. 

Gbenga Dan Asabe

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