Valerie Yules Letters

August 24, 2012

Olympic heroes foretell national changes

Filed under: Pleasures, Political reforms, sport — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:39 am

National heroes at the Olympics


A fascinating study is of the portraits of the athletes at the Olympics.

Here we have the sporting elites of the world. The mix of races even within nations foretells the future. The standards of beauty are becoming held in common.


Here is what I found, although I cannot guarantee absolute accuracy in my counting.

Most athletes are not beautiful.

Most countries had at least one outstandingly good-looking athlete, regardless of race.

Most countries had athletes of different races. Among the single-race countries were Scandinavian and Japanese.

Most races had a variety of facial types, and few had ‘typical’ racial features.  Only 4 out of 38 Israeli athletes looked typically Jewish.

128 German athletes out of 395 looked Aryan, and among these were Dutch and Scandinavian names. German athletes included black and Asian.

120 French athletes out of 335 did not look as if they spoke French.  French athletes were mostly Caucasian, but many were African and some SE Asian.

Almost all British athletes looked British with English names, but some English names were Caribbean Africans, and there were 15 ‘Macs’ and many other Scots-, Irish- and Welsh-named athletes. As well as black Africans,the British contingent included Asians (but few Indians or Pakistanis or Arabs) Greek, Italian, Polish, Dutch . . .etc.

Chinese athletes all  had Chinese names and dark hair.  Most looked Chinese but some did not.  Only a few had slanty-eyes.

About a quarter of American athletes were African-American, but few were Latino or Asian.

Australia is one of the most multi-ethnic countries, but only 76 of the 410 athletes had non-British surnames, mostly European, but the athletes included Black, Pacific Islander, Chinese, SE Asian, Middle Eastern – including some Muslim-sounding names. About as many Macs as the British contingent. None of the Australians were obviously aboriginal, but it was difficult to tell from the photos if some were part-aboriginal.



70 nations won medals out of 205 nations competing!


August 16, 2012

Paralympics competitors – land-mine injured

Filed under: Pleasures — Tags: , , , , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:06 am

The Paralympiads should include two groups as well as the national groups – one group disabled by land-mines, and one group disabled by suicide bombers.

We will have to think, as well as to admire.

August 12, 2012

Improved Olympic medals

Filed under: Pleasures, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 5:44 am

Another table should be compiled for Olympic medals.

How much each medal cost the country which won it, or, if that is too hard to calculate, the total of medals weighted for gold, silver and bronze, divided by the total of money spent to gain them.

Other countries may well come top on this table, with the least spending at the top.

Jamaica would probably stay well ahead, but also many of the nations which could spend little or nothing and had one or two medals.



Competition in the Olympic Games

The most urgent competition in the Olympic Games should be in the free-to-air TV broadcasts in Australia.  The matter is one for the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission.

If there were two competitors in the free-to-air TV broadcasts, the standard would rise immediately.

We might even have one channel that showed the Olympic Games as a showcase of all nations and all sports, as well as the one that showed almost entirely Australians. The All-Nations channel might link up with an international showing of all nations, for economy, and be able to have ads less often in longer blocks, and ads for other causes than the big companies, junk food, medications, Crown casino and online sports betting.  The ads could even test the water for advertising that emphasised the good points of products rather than extended confusing storylines or cheap prices. Each ad could appear only twice a day, so there was more variety.

We need not have so much cycling going up and down Box Hill so that it seemed as if there was one lap shown repeatedly.

Have we no idea how many Australians are interested in the sports and other sports stars and nations, apart from Australian medals?  We could find out.

And see, for making the Olympics fairer sport,


The Olympic Games made fair sport

 It is not fair if Olympic athletes cheat by taking drugs to improve their performance. However, testing competitors is becoming so increasingly costly and difficult that it has even be suggested that the whole lot of them be allowed to dope up, to retain a semblance of an even playing field.

But the Olympic Games are not an even playing field. They are not fair sport.

The table of medals won at the Beijing Games correlates roughly with the money nations have spent to obtain them. Gold is paid for with gold. It has been estimated that each gold medal won by Australians at games over the past 20 years has cost taxpayers an average of $40 million each. A swimsuit designed to give a speed advantage over everybody else costs $4 million to produce.

Eighty-one countries won medals at the Beijing Olympics. Looked at another way, 128 countries won no medals at all; that is, 62 per cent of the 205 countries competing. Three quarters of these unrewarded countries are so wracked by economic and social problems, or even war, that it must have been difficult to send any athletes at all, let alone pay for training.

It is a tremendous boost to national morale when someone wins a medal for their country. No boost to morale for those countries.

Winning medals has of course been a tremendous boost to morale for the poor or troubled countries of Jamaica, Romania, Kenya, North Korea, Ethiopia, Cuba, Indonesia, Algeria, Colombia, Croatia, Serbia, Egypt and Afghanistan. How much did their medals cost them?

India and Israel were low in the medal count. Were they spending on other things, and less on training Olympics sports stars?

Is there any way for future games to ensure that all athletes of all countries have more of a level playing field in the amount of financial support they are given?

Taxpayers of countries high in the medals tables do not appear to begrudge the enormous sums they pay to groom potential athletes and for the costly entourages at their Institutes of Sport. Forty million dollars? No worries. Part of this problem is that adult arithmetic is not good for any sum over $999. We simply cannot comprehend what $40 million is, as Northcote Parkinson pointed out in his Law of Triviality. We may be keen to save 5 cents at the supermarket, but cannot imagine the difference between $40,000, $40 million or $400 million or even the size of our foreign debt.

Yet the cost of the Olympic Games and all their human organising paraphernalia now makes significant impacts on economies, at a time when as much as possible should be invested instead in defences against a future of possible environmental calamities.

Most of Beijing’s 2008  Olympic estimated expenditure of up to US$44 billion has in fact been for a radical restructuring of the city: Delhi plans to do the same for the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

But will London’s projected expenditure of over £9 billion for the 2012 Games be for a similar city transformation, or be more directly spent on a “better Games” than ever before?

Other financial matters are stirring. Should taxpayers receive any return from our gold medallists who they helped pay for, and which has opened the door for enormous future personal incomes?

Gaining far more wealth than the athletes however, are commercial interests, including the IOC, which expected to make US$3 billion from the Beijing Games, and the now well dug-in vested interests of the sports institutes themselves.

Amotz Asa-el, writing for the Jerusalem Post, pointed out that while Nazi-Stalinist style political hijacking of the games has reduced, the games have become a financial circus. “What originally was intended to promote political tolerance, personal modesty and competitive honesty has been corrupted into an orgy of corporate greed and political intrigue.”

Yet the spectacle of the Games has brought happiness and excitement into millions of lives across the world. This unique peaceful meeting of nations has promises that could still be fulfilled. How?

Dennis Altman recognises that “the Olympics have become a display of global consumerism and national triumphalism, but it is unrealistic to expect otherwise”, and foresees that if governments’ expenditure reduces, corporations will take over sponsorships. Must we give up on fairness so easily?

Could the Games be made fairer by similarity of equipment? By medal tables that included the outlays spent to acquire them?

Could these sports gatherings return closer to their idealistic origins by including the poetry and theatre of the old Olympiads?

Could they return closer to their original value which was encouraging the skills required by their times? The hunter-warrior skills needed by the ancient Greeks are less needed today. We might replace as events some of the more recent odd novelties – synchronised diving, beach bikini ball-games? – by skills that are more needed in the modern world that could also be breathtaking spectacles on global televisions.

In some sports, the Third World might for once have an advantage – pedalling to replace electricity for communications; weightlifting people, as needed in hospitals; freighting water on your head; and as one writer has suggested, house-crafts, those most maligned and ill-considered essential exercises that could become glorified with prospects of gold medals. There is already an “olympics” for trade-skills that can be expanded, and hyped up with more publicity.

Imagine, millions everywhere preparing for a fair Olympics using skills that are needed everyday.

Blog at