It is wonderful news that both golf and rugby sevens have been accepted as Olympic sports. It gives us the chance of winning many more medals than if the games were simply a test of brute strength, speed, agility or skill. Now the authorities have accepted that the games should also reward GDP, raw levels of disposable income per head of population and the ability to wear pastel-shaded wool and acrylic leisure-wear without appearing unduly embarrassed. Golf in the Olympics! That should sort out the bloody Africans. Mauritania and Chad aren’t going to be in the running for any of those medals, are they? All those Kenyans who train by running for miles and miles barefoot across the scrub and the mountains – that’s not going to be much use when you need a birdie on the eighteenth and you’re using a club fashioned from the dried penis of a water buffalo, is it? So welcome, golf, just so long as we don’t have to watch it.
And then there’s rugby sevens, which I understand will be open only to privately-educated competitors from countries which were once lucky enough to be part of our empire. A game wholly devoid of even the most primitive vestiges of skill which we inflicted upon the South Africans, Aussies, Kiwis and so on and which those country’s homoerotic middle class have subsequently taken up with considerable enthusiasm. Nobody else has taken any notice of rugby, because it is not a very compelling game. And so we at least stand the chance of a bronze in the rugby sevens, surely, assuming we can buy enough fake blood capsules to cheat our way through the qualifying rounds, against the wannabe-Brits of Argentina and Italy.
I have to say it did strike me during the euphoria over our performance in the Beijing Olympics that our success was at least partly dependent upon being able to afford better equipment than anyone in the third world (by which I include France). Nice laser class yachts, lightweight state of the art bicycles, cool guns and crossbows. That’s the way the Olympics is going – with any luck, by 2020 – if they also include polo and Real Tennis – we’ll be in the top three nations.