As the opening ceremony was in progress on the north bank of Marina Bay, some kind of Youth Olympics carnival was going on on the south bank, just in front of The Sail building. Its centrepiece was a huge concert arena with perhaps 1,500 seats laid out, and in which a band was playing. I took this picture:
I wonder how much of the S$387 million — the estimated cost of the Youth Olympics — went into that.
I saw a bit of the fireworks overhead, but since I didn’t have the right camera and tripod for proper pictures, I decided not to stay for the main fireworks display. What’s the point of staying? Better to get home before the crowd spills out of the opening ceremony, packing the trains.
Back home, I turned on the television and caught the tail end of the opening ceremony, in which a ghastly oversized bird built of chicken wire mesh and neon lights borrowed from Geylang (our red light district) floated across the bay. Perched on top of the contraption’s head was somebody holding aloft the olympic torch.
Down on the water were eight to ten dragon boats playing the role of marine outriders to the fat bird. I was horrified that we chose kitsch over the authentic. We didn’t need the bird. It would have been more elegant to convey the torch at the head of a dragon boat. How much did that fowl cost? More money wasted.
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Official photos can be found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/15322733@N05/sets/72157624722380428/show/. The next three are taken from that set:
I went to that site looking for a photo of that bloated blinking fowl, but it was not among the available pictures. While there, I noticed the selection bias of that official Youth Olympics site. There are plenty of pictures celebrating Singapore, very few honouring the athletes. It’s chest-thumping and self-glorification all over again.
In fact, this one below was the only picture I could find (as at midnight Saturday 14 August 2010) of athletes in the marchpast — a group from Turkey. No other country’s athletes were featured.
Perhaps additional pictures will be uploaded tomorrow. But if that’s the final selection I can only hang my head in shame. We are such ungracious hosts, concerned only with bragging about the show we put up, erasing the place of the athletes from all over the world — the kids for whom the event is infinitely more special than it can ever be to any of us. Instead we treat the whole exercise as an instrument of old-fashioned nationalism, with no real concern for sport and sportsmen. Hardly the Olympic spirit.