Many, many years ago (well it was really only 12 years but anything before kids feels like it happened in the Middle Ages) I was in a country other than Australia during the Olympics. Two other countries to be precise – Kenya and Tanzania. Or you could argue it was 3 as Zanzibar likes to think of itself as a different country.
So, anyhow, I was out of Oz for a fair chunk of the Sydney Olympics so all of my Sydney memories are tied up with my Africa memories. I learnt of Cathy Freeman’s gold medal on a bus in Tanzania, and I attempted to explain Bananas in Pyjamas during the Closing Ceremony to the bewildered staff at our hotel in Zanzibar. I’m pretty sure they are still puzzled over that.
But I never really watched the Olympics from Africa like I have watched them in Singapore.
Intellectually I knew that all countries tailor their Olympic coverage to the tastes of their populace. Australians like swimming, cycling, diving and athletics. We like them even more if Australians are competing, and even more if we are winning.
Singapore likes table tennis, badminton, table tennis and table tennis. Yes, table tennis. And they won 2 bronze medals, so they are pretty darn good at it.
I have tried, valiantly, to think of my Olympic viewing as an exercise in cultural differences but…. but..