Third-world challenges and interfering with a mimer

2008-08-15 00:00

This month we are flooded with images of athletes from all over the globe in what is one of only two truly global sporting competitions that reach every nook and cranny of the world.

The global reach of the Olympics, currently in Beijing, and the Fifa World Cup, is undeniable.

Africa has never hosted the Olympic Games. Not only does its infrastructure leave a lot to be desired but it explains why its athletes have not featured well when compared to their counterparts from other continents.

It is no secret that Africa is light years behind its international counterparts in terms of infrastructure, skills and exposure.

In many instances, the odds are so stacked against African athletes that athletes who can afford it such as Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry, South Africa’s Ryk Neethling and Roland Schoeman, all from Third-World countries, go to First-World countries to sharpen their skills.

Olympic fans from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union have been allowed to travel easily to every corner of the globe to support their heroes largely because of the strength of their nations’ currencies and the privilege that comes with their nationality.

Fans of African countries who qualified for the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany weren’t allowed to travel to Europe because their visa applications were not approved.

How do you support and motivate your team when you are not allowed to travel to the country in which they are playing, while European Union fans are allowed to travel freely without having to get visas?

While African teams are allowed to compete in tournaments that take place overseas, their fans are handicapped when it comes to visa applications and travel movements.

Why do African countries have to qualify for overseas sporting events while their fans are screened and are treated like second-class citizen?

This is a clear example of how politics influence sport and continues to.

An example of this is how a senior Chinese government official gave instructions that the “real singer” of Ode To The Motherland at the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games be replaced by the “better-looking” girl who happened to be a mimer with no talent.

Africa in general and Africans in particular have always been, and continue to be, poorer cousins and second-class citizens of the world.

Until the politics of the game are sorted out, Africa will have more challenges than just

on-the-field ones to deal with when they compete with their counterparts from other parts of the world.

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