August 5: Heard of facts imitating fiction?

Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in Australia. There’s a comedy serial on Australian television these days. It is a spoof or hilarious leg-pulling on the Australian officials who are in charge of making all the arrangements for the Olympic Games scheduled to start in the Australian capital Sydney.

The really strange part is, much of what the serial shows as fiction, ends up happening as fact some time later, says a report in ‘The Times of India’.

Take, for example the goof-up over track measurement. A particular Olympic track was officially supposed to be 10 km. But after measurement, the track was found to be only eight km. Just imagine all the record breaking runs athletes would have had competing for a 10 km run on an eight km track!

Olympic Games are Fair Game for TV Satire [Illustration by Shiju George]
Olympic Games are Fair Game for TV Satire [Illustration by Shiju George]

When the news became public, most Australians smiled knowingly. For, the TV serial called ‘The Games’ in one of its episodes had already shown an incident in which a 100m running track was found to be 94m.

Earlier, a big hue and cry arose when it was discovered that the entry tickets that had been printed were too large to be inserted at the turnstiles at each entrance! No wonder ‘The Games’ is Australia’s most popular TV comedy today. It has been penned by writer-comedian John Clarke and is watched by over one million viewers each week.

So what is the series all about?

It is a fictionalised look at the great blunders that pile up during the preparation for the Olympics, among the most prestigious sporting and marketing events in the world today. Billions of dollars are tied in with the Games. Countries fight with each other to host the Games hoping to make money through tourism. Every step of the organisation of the Games from printing tickets to getting contracts for building new hotels, means a money making opportunity for someone or the other. Then, too, there is the glamour element associated with the event.

The serial shows a current affairs TV crew following the Games officials to make a documentary on the event. Their characters are pursued all the time by cameras and microphones, which catch the smallest blunder made by the officials.

‘The Games’ pokes maximum fun at “tall poppies” an Australian term for the self-important people consumed with greed and involved in official bungles. It highlights the fact that corruption and inefficiency is to be found in government corridors everywhere (the officials who were responsible for the ticket size bungle finally laid the blame on the machine!).

‘The Games’ hints broadly that the events that go into the making of the Olympics are often more entertaining than the games themselves.

‘The Games’ has even coined a term for all these people – Olympocrats.

What is surprising is that real-life Olympic officials are said to be among the most faithful fans of the show – they say it helps them smile during their most difficult days. ‘The Games’ is due to end a few days before the actual Games begin on September 15. Till then, it is expected to keep the Australian funny bone tickling.

Imagine an Indian spoof on the cricket match-fixing scandal titled “Matches are made in heaven”.

553 words | 5 minutes
Readability: Grade 9 (14-15 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: world news
Tags: #money, #olympics, #australian

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