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Interaction: Is the Olympic truce dead?

Myers: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to Interaction here at the International Broadcast Centre at the Olympic Green in Beijing. It’s now 03:00 CST here, and the eighth day of competition at these 2008 Summer Olympic Games has long since concluded. We’ve got a great deal to discuss today: the controversy over lip synching at the opening ceremony, Michael Phelps’s attempt to win an eighth gold medal at the same Games, Usain Bolt’s world record sprint, and Ara Abrahamian’s wrestling protest. But we turn first to Russia and Georgia, where a cease fire has been reached. Nonetheless, Russia’s troops have not yet withdrawn amid reports of Russian attacks on Georgian military installations. Has the ideal of the Olympic truce been lost forever? Did it ever really exist? Are war and sport now inextricably linked? To answer these questions, we have a few interesting people in our panel. Mr Kelly Finterson is an author and currently columnist with Things That Are Happening in the World Of Late magazine.

Finterson: Good evening.

Myers: Covering the Olympic games for Ka-Ching TV Europe is Mr John Ullowicz.

Ullowicz: Hello.

Myers: And we also have two athletes who recently faced each other joining us here. Georgian beach volleyballer Ms Christine Santanna.

Santanna: Hi.

Myers: And Russian beach volleyballer Ms Natalia Uryadova.

Uryadova: Good evening.

Myers: Thank you all for joining us here today. Kelly, war is an inevitable part of all aspects of present day life, as we witness whenever Iraqi athletes compete to rousing support from the crowds here in Beijing. Does that also mean that all sporting events are political?

Finterson: It definitely does, Debbie. Football started a war in Central America. The Olympic Games of 1936 was one of the many events that led to World War II. Politics enters into just about every World Cup football match.

Myers: John, can one cover sports without an understanding of politics?

Ullowicz: Sure. But then you have to make up a reason that the Peruvian and Chilean athletes, for example, always get into fights.

Myers: Christine, when you were playing Uryadova and Shiryaeva, were you thinking about the situation in your adopted homeland?

Santanna: I certainly was, Debbie. It’s not only a major geopolitical event, it’s an important humanitarian crisis, and it was an opportunity to give the folks back home something positive.

Myers: Natalia, you were quoted after the match as saying that you were not competing against Georgians. Do you still believe that to be the case?

Uryadova: Without a doubt, Debbie. Alexandra and I spoke before the match. We said to each other, “Let’s beat these Brazilians”. They are Brazilian. It is an insult to the people of Georgia to pretend that those two are Georgian.

Santanna: I have a Georgian passport. Andrezza and I have represented Georgia for two years now. We live in Tbilisi. Andrezza and I are no less Georgian than the Rustavi Choir.

Myers: All right. Well, let’s leave that behind for the moment and instead move on to our viewer questions. As you are no doubt aware, you can get your questions to us in any of a number of formats, including E-mail, snail mail, text message, telephone, facsimile, or decorative hedge trimming. We begin tonight with a question from Roma in Batumi, Georgia. Roma, are you there?

Roma in Batumi: Yes, I am.

Myers: Good evening Roma. What is your question?

Roma in Batumi: I have a question for Saka. Saka, how many letters are there in the Georgian alphabet?

Santanna: Thirty three.

Roma in Batumi: Correct.

Myers: That’s all you wanted to find out? All right. We have another question. This one is an E-mail from Kolidha in Poti, Georgia. Kolidha wants Christine to say who is on the twenty lari note. Christine?

Santanna: That would be Ilia Chavchavadze.

Myers: Okay. We’ll see if there are any questions that don’t have to do with Christine’s knowledge of Georgian culture. Grant from New York City, NY, USA, are you there?

Grant in New York City: I’m here. Hi.

Myers: Hello Grant. What is your question?

Grant in New York City: Why was everyone so excited about the opening ceremony? They just had a bunch of people acting in unison. We already knew China is good at getting a whole bunch of people to act in unison. If there was a Getting a Whole Bunch of People to Act in Unison Olympics, it would be a two horse race between China and North Korea.

Ullowicz: Oh, it totally would. That would be awesome to see.

Finterson: Russia would be good too.

Ullowicz: I don’t think so. Right? Do you think Russia could do an opening ceremony like that?

Uryadova: You mean, like, with 2,008 drummers? Yeah, no, I don’t think we’re quite up to par on that score. We could do it with up to 750 drummers, I would say.

Finterson: I think the US could do 100 drummers. Canada could do 200. France is such an individualist nation. They could never get above ten drummers.

Ullowicz: I think they could get to fifteen. But you’re right, more than that, and they would split up and form little drum cliques. Each drum clique would then get into an argument with another drum clique about the rhythm.

Myers: Well, as exciting as this discussion is, we have to move on to our next question. It is a text message from “K8tieQT”, who says, “omg ldn w 2012 lute plyrz lol”. Kelly, do you suppose she meant flute players rather than lute players?

Finterson: I don’t know. However, I suspect I would be laughing out loud if London turned out with 2,012 flute players or 2,012 lute players.

Uryadova: I wish we could have had 2,000 didgeridoo players in Sydney.

Ullowicz: I think Australia would only be able to coordinate a maximum of 425 didgeridoo players.

Finterson: I’ll say 500.

Myers: Well, we move on now to a question from Shota in Alkmaar, Netherlands. Shota, are you there?

Shota in Alkmaar: Yes, hi. My question is for Christine. Christine, who is the best footballer in Georgian history?

Santanna: Gosh, Shota. I think that would be you.

Shota in Alkmaar: Correct.

Uryadova: Knock it off, “Saka”. What did you do, search for “Georgia” on Wikipedia?

Santanna: Is that what Putin told you to say? I’m sorry President Saakashvili didn’t give me any talking points for this show. We’re an actual democracy.

Uryadova: Give it up. You’re even less Georgian than Abkhazia.

Myers: All right, you two. Well, having reached our self servingness quota for the programme, it only remains for us to thank Ms Natalia Uryadova, Ms Christine Santanna, Mr John Ullowicz, and Mr Kelly Finterson for staying up late to join us here in Beijing. Next week we’ll discuss sporting matters that took place at these Olympic games, such as Michael Phelps’s seven gold medals and counting, the refused wrestling bronze, and more. That will be next weekend. Until then, good night.

Santanna: Besides, Natalia, we all know you’re still pissed off about blowing the lead against us.

Uryadova: Well, we might lose on the volleyball sands, but we’re not losing on the streets of South Ossetia.