Kenya’s declared intention to bid for the 2024 Olympic Games has been widely derided both at home and abroad in the light of Kenya’s dismal medal showing in the current London 2012 Olympics. Why should a country whose athletic prowess is clearly on the wane consider itself a suitable venue for the greatest sporting and marketing event on the planet?
What has not been widely reported is Bangkok’s intention also to throw its hat in the ring for the 33rd Olympiad. And interestingly, Thailand’s interest is motivated precisely because of the country’s poor performance in London.
Thailand believes that if it hosts the Games, it will be able to introduce new sports where Thai athletes have a natural ability and that this advantage can be turned into an impressive medals haul.
While some of the events proposed by Thailand may appear at first sight to be rather odd, Thailand argues that not so long ago, women’s beach volleyball and synchronized swimming were regarded as little more than a chance for aging male sports officials to ogle scantily dressed female bodies. But both have now become recognized competitive events. And the ogling can still go on.
The Thai Olympic Committee secretly sent a team to observe Thai life in all its aspects to discover what Thais are good at and then devise rules and regulations to turn these everyday activities into international sports. Gifted practitioners were then put through a preliminary training programme to ensure that Thais can truly excel at these new events.
While the survey team was successful in identifying some original new sports, the training programme unfortunately ran into a few glitches.
The Bangkok Bus Disembarkation discipline, for example, seemed to have great potential. Thais have developed a superb agility in squeezing through a tightly packed mass of passengers to reach the bus doorway and then leap from a moving platform in the pouring rain, no matter how wildly the driver swings the bus from lane to lane.
Tragedy struck however, when in a training session on Sukhumwit Road, a male competitor in the Third Lane from the Sidewalk category successfully jumped from a bus still in second gear and negotiated the two inside lanes of moving traffic to safely reach the bus stop.
He was then, however, creamed by a motorcycle ridden by a policeman driving the wrong way, on the sidewalk and without a helmet. The competitor was immediately disqualified, admitted to the Police Hospital with multiple leg fractures, and prosecuted for damaging government property (the front wheel of the motorcycle was badly bent).
A similar mishap befell a Synchronized Drinking Dressage Team recruited from a bar in the Washington Square area. Questions had already been raised about this event since almost all the ‘Thai’ competitors were farang men who had hurriedly been granted Thai citizenship so as to qualify for the national drinking team.
The pairing of Werner Spitzbauch and Sgt Augustus ‘Gus the Guzzler’ Belcher (US Army retd.) was nearing the end of the 10 litres Beer event and was comfortably in the lead, in terms of both time and performance (correct angle of elbow, proper wrist rotation, etc.) when Werner suddenly became incapacitated and fell off his bar stool.
‘It was a complete shock’, his drinking partner said. ‘I only just managed to grab his glass before he hit the deck. And even then I was so overcome with emotion that I spilled a bit.’
Some observers blamed an overly demanding training schedule, something that his partner immediately discounted. ‘Werner’s a tough drinker. Why, he managed 10 litres in the heats this afternoon with no difficulty.’
The outcome of the national trials in Motorcycle Purse Snatching may however spell doom for Thailand’s bid to introduce novel sports. In this event, pairs of competitors on motorcycles must snatch as many purses as possible from female tuk-tuk passengers and pedestrians at a popular intersection and make their getaway before the traffic lights turn green.
Five ‘victims’, dressed like Middle Eastern women, were placed at random positions in the traffic jam at Soi Nana lights. The first team zoomed expertly through the traffic and successfully sped through the red light. But they then failed to stop to allow officials to verify the results and disappeared in the direction of Ratchaprasong.
When officials later checked the Traffic Police CCTV, they discovered that the pair had in fact stolen 6 purses, when only 5 had been planted, and that an irate Iranian tourist was at that very moment filing a complaint at Lumpini Police Station.
The possibility that an Olympic event might increase the crime rate and deter tourists was more than the Olympic Committee could stomach. An Army General on the Committee expressed exasperation at this turn of events.
‘I don’t understand these people. If we can get the Olympics here and they win a medal in one of our new events, they will be showered with cash, cars and gold chains from the government and a patriotic public. Why they would wish to sully the honour of representing their country with grubby personal greed is completely beyond me.’