Loose Change: When Russians Were Hilarious

Remember the Winter Olympics? You must remember. It was about two weeks ago and that Polish woman who always wins medals won a medal. Wasn’t that fun, looking down on the Russians for being poorly organised and homophobic – before they suddenly became terrifyingly efficient at annexing small autonomous republics. Russians were hilarious back then, with their crazy double toilets and absurd oversized medals with bits of meteor in them that didn’t really have bits of meteor in them. My, how we laughed.

The other thing we were all talking about before this part of the world suddenly became very unfunny was the likelihood of Krakow hosting the Winter Olympics. Here? In sleepy old, semi-competent Krakow? I don’t know, it sounds like a lot of work and, you know, organising things.

How can we hope to match such luxury?

Well hold on to your ski poles people, I think it’s actually quite likely. If it were a matter of simply choosing the best place to have the Winter Olympics, I wouldn’t even entertain the idea, but it doesn’t work that way. You have to deliberately go and ask for the Winter Olympics, and that’s exactly what our city elders went and did. The probably expected a lot of other, more sensible and grown-up cities to the do the same, but they didn’t. The final host shortlist for the 2022 Winter games is: Krakow, Almaty (Kazakhstan), Lviv (Ukraine), Beijing (China).

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first. The Ukrainian bid will have been put together under the now ousted government. Whichever officials were in charge, and hoping to line their pockets with delicious construction tender bribes, are now paddling across the Black Sea in hijacked pedalos waving Russian flags. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Putin enjoyed the Olympics so much that he has ordered his generals to annex any parts of the world where they might happen in the future – which must be a worrying thought for the president of Kazakhstan.

Little known, but batting a top-ranking average among the world’s ruthless dictators, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has now ruled Kazakhstan for 25 years. He must be doing a great job because hardly any major box office hits mocking his country and its people have been made, and he just polled 95 percent in a presidential election. When he’s not having striking workers shot, Nazarbayev enjoys broadcasting to the nation in a fatherly tone with a cardigan draped over his shoulders, moving the capital city to somewhere with better views, and cheating at tiddlywinks. Obviously, the Olympic committee isn’t about to fall for the charms of a steely-eyed dictator willing to spend billions of oil and gas dollars in a bid to impress the rest of the world – that would be crazy.

Beijing seems like a sensible option for a Winter Olympics, but there are several factors counting against it. Firstly, the 2020 Summer Olympics will be in Tokyo. It would be a major break with tradition to have consecutive Summer and Winter games in the same region. Secondly, we just had a Beijing Olympics – what are you, in love with China or something? Thirdly, Chinese people don’t know how to ski because it’s not something you can do while simultaneously undermining the US economy.

If the Winter Olympics do end up coming to Poland, some hard thinking and careful planning will have to be done – it’s not going to be easy to incorporate mandatory ski jumping into all the events.

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7 thoughts on “Loose Change: When Russians Were Hilarious

  • March 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    nice one Jamie, nice one ..

  • March 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Not to mention Beijing’s air pollution.

    • March 13, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Oh! in Krakow we can do much better than Bejing when it comes to airpollution. No worries on that front ;-)

  • March 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

    On the face of it Krakow seems a shoe in. Although Lwow is a gorgeous city and in 8 years time Ukraine might have thrown of the shackles of Russian oppression. Do not forget however that the IOC and FIFA have no problem awarding events to brutal regimes if the price is right. The one thing that will count against Krakow is that according to the BBC from that non-racist, non-colonialist kingdom of enlightenment that is called Great Britain, Poles are terrible racists who vilify anyone who is not 6ft+, blonde and blue-eyed.

    • March 14, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      You’re referring to the BBC Panorama programme ‘Stadiums of Hate’, which turned out to be unnecessarily alarmist in the light of what turned out to be a successful championship.

      I believe Auntie Beeb ended up with a small amount of egg on her face as a result. But the filmed instances of ugly behaviour in both Ukraine and Poland were genuine enough, although the Ukrainian policeman interviewed seemed to be in complete denial (explaining the fans’ Hitler salute by saying ‘they’re only waving to the visitors’).

      Unfortunately, football hooligans are not confined to eastern Europe. And anyway, winter olympics spectators are a different breed.

  • March 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Isn’t Oslo on the shortlist too?

    • March 23, 2014 at 8:59 pm

      At the time of writing, it looked as if Oslo had pulled out. It now seems they are back in – though it remains an unpopular proposal in Norway.


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