In My Opinion

Dave Barry: Opening ceremonies great tribute to American state?


The Olympics officially got under way Friday with the much-anticipated opening ceremony, titled “Isles of Wonder,” which, as the name suggests, was a spectacular three-hour tribute to Hawaii.

No, seriously, it was a tribute to Great Britain, starting with the past, when this was a rural society – depicted in the show by 120 actual farm animals, including sheep, horses and cows – then moving forward through Britain’s many great historic achievements such as the Beatles. The complex and imaginative show went off without a hitch, except for one unfortunate incident when four of the sheep were shot by members of the Kazakhstani Olympic archery team, who apparently misunderstood the nature of the event.

Speaking of international incidents: Mitt “Mitt” Romney, who is running for president of the United States, showed up here in Great Britain, despite the fact that this is a foreign country. Mitt immediately got into hot water by committing a gaffe, which is the word we use when a supposedly experienced politician makes the stupid mistake of saying, out loud, what he actually thinks.

This happened in an interview with NBC’s Brian Williams. Brian asked Mitt if he thought the Brits were ready to host the games. This is a question that has only one politically acceptable answer, namely: “Yes.” Even if, at that very moment, Mitt could see Syrian troops entering Trafalgar Square and a mushroom cloud rising over the Houses of Parliament, he was supposed to answer: “Yes, Brian, absolutely, they are ready.” Instead, he expressed some mild concerns about the level of Olympic preparedness.

The British press was deeply offended. This is pretty funny when you consider that the same British press has spent months and months loudly and repeatedly expressing grave concerns about the level of Olympic preparedness. But when Mitt did it, the Brits were outraged, outraged. Many journalists took time out from questioning Britain’s Olympic preparedness to declare that Mitt was an idiot for questioning Britain’s Olympic preparedness.

The mayor of London, whose name is “Boris,” agreed with this view. British Prime Minister David Cameron also weighed in, saying “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.” He was referring to the fact that Mitt ran the 2002 winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, which, in the view of the prime minister, is some kind of mud hut occupied by maybe a dozen half-naked people squatting around a fire gnawing on raw squirrels.

Anyway, when Mitt became aware that he had committed this horrific gaffe, he responded, in the great tradition of American political leadership, by lying. Within hours he was declaring with hearty insincerity that everything was fabulous, Olympic-preparedness-wise. Of course that didn’t satisfy anybody: You’re supposed to get the lie right the first time. This is the essence of statesmanship.

Speaking of squirrels: According to news reports, squirrels have been sabotaging the Olympic beach-volleyball practice courts in St. James Park by burying acorns in the sand. The athletes have been stepping on these acorns, which is a problem because beach-volleyball players do not wear shoes. They don’t really wear anything, which is why beach volleyball is so popular.

To investigate, I went down to St. James Park, where I spoke to a soldier guarding the practice courts. I asked him if he had heard about the squirrels sabotaging the courts, and he said he had. I then asked him if he and the other soldiers were planning to take military action against the squirrels, and he replied – this is a direct quote – “We’ve been feeding them.” If you ask me, this is a shocking lapse of security.

No, wait, I take that back. If you ask me, everything is fabulous.

Dorking update: I have confirmed that there is, in fact, a place called “Dorking.” What is more, there is a giant cockerel there. I am not making this up. Rest assured that I will continue to pursue this story regardless of where it leads, unless it leads away from my hotel.

Read more Olympics stories from the Miami Herald

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    A Brazilian court is set to decide the future of the golf course for the 2016 Olympics, a layout that is being carved out of a nature reserve with luxury high-rise apartments planned around the edges.

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012 file photo, gold medalist Andy Murray of Great Britain waves the British flag during the medal ceremony of the men's singles event at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, in London, at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Murray’s future status, as well as that of Scottish Olympic athletes, rests on the result of next week’s independence referendum in Scotland. Polls suggest the two sides are running neck-and-neck, presenting a real possibility that Scotland could break away after 307 years as part of the United Kingdom. If Scots vote ``yes’’ on Sept. 18, the decision won’t have much impact on football and rugby, as Scotland already fields its own teams in those sports. But it will affect Scotland’s status in the Olympics and raise doubts over whether Scots can send a team to Rio. By then, Murray could be representing an independent Scotland.

    Column: Without Scotland, not so great Britain

    After 26 years guiding Manchester United, Alex Ferguson knows better than most that one should always think very, very carefully before breaking up a winning team. Perhaps that helps explain why he donated money to the campaign urging voters in his native Scotland to say "No" to independence in the historic ballot this week.

  • Rio organizers announce Olympic ticket prices

    Organizers have announced the basic outline of ticket prices for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

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