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Day Zero: or, Why the Olympic Ideals are dead, thank you Mr Putin

"The General Assembly... Urges Member States to observe, within the framework of the Charter of the United Nations, the Olympic Truce, individually and collectively, during the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, the vision of which is based on the slogan "One world, one dream", and the following Paralympic Games;"

- United Nations General Assembly, 16.10.07 (source PDF)

I slept through the start of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last night. Although it was due to start at 10pm Sydney time, I fell asleep around 9, woke up at 10.41, said "bugger it" and went back to sleep again. Started watching the replay on Channel Seven at 6am this morning, but still managed to doze off before it was over.

Having finally seen the opening ceremony in full, all I can say is that I am as much in awe of Zhang Yimou's craftsmanship as ever. This was the best stadium-based opening/closing ceremony ever, and it should be the last because no one is ever going to have a hope of topping it. Bearing in mind, of course, that the whole thing was a $100 million showpiece for a big, mighty, and wealthy totalitarian state.

But at least I had the opportunity to watch the opening ceremony live. Unlike viewers in the United States. Despite the fact that the opening ceremony began at 8am on the US east coast, rights-holder NBC held off for a delayed telecast in the evening. The New York Times reports the farcical situation as NBC tried to prevent American citizens from viewing live coverage online.

While the likes of Flash Gordon Brown stayed away from Beijing yesterday, other heads of government were there, except for the USA where Dick Cheney sent figurehead George W Bush to China for the occasion. Russia reversed the roles however, Czar Vladimir Putin visiting Beijing while President Jeremy Clarkson stayed home.

Not that it was all play for Vlad the Impaler yesterday. Despite the fact that he is just the Prime Minister these days, and has no remit over foreign policy, it was Putin who ordered the Russian air force in to start bombing Georgia.

Vladimir Putin has surely come up with one of the most foul breaches of the Olympic Truce imaginable. Latest reports claim that up to 1600 Georgian civilians have been killed already.

If I were Jacques Rogge, I'd send the entire Russian contingent packing now.