Rio Olympics & political undercurrents – By Louis Odion, FNGE

The ratcheting up of rhetoric between Washington and Moscow over
the Syrian conflict lately is surely a chilling reminder of the Cold War
between the west and the east last century. While missiles may not be flying
directly today between Washington and Moscow out of shared commitment to world
peace, the ongoing Rio Olympics would however seem to provide a cover to
clobber each all the same.

The seething animosity was very much on display whenever Americans
were pitted against Russians since the games opened last weekend. When
Kansas-born light flyweight boxer Nico Hernandez climbed the rope square
against Vasilii Egorov of Russia Monday night, it was a fistic explosion. With
the sheer flood of blows, hooks and uppercuts in the first and second rounds,
you would think the much dreaded nuclear button was about to be activated
simultaneously in Washington and Moscow.
Louis Odion
Sensing he was trailing behind on the score-card at the opening of
the third round, the shorter Egorov brought more aggression against Hernandez
whose confidence grew as the seconds ticked away so much that he could afford
some fanciful feints to the admiration of the delirious spectators on the
pavilion. Eventually, the latter was declared winner, booking a space in the
The following day, the triumph of American swimmer Lily King in a
grudge match against her Russian arch rival, Yulia Efimova, was no less
dramatic. What seemed to sweeten the victory of the nineteen-year-old in the
women’s 100m breaststroke was that her quarry was among the Russia’s contingent
earlier accused of doping but only unbanned shortly before the games started.
When Efimova won the semi-final on Sunday and made a gloating
“No. 1” sign, her American rival was shown on the live television
wagging her finger disapprovingly. When she won her own semi, she in turn
flashed her own “No. 1” sign.
Barrack Obama
At victory, to rub it in, King quipped: “It just proves that
you can compete clean and still come out on top with all the work you put
Someone must have nodded in malicious excitement at the Oval
Office in Washington.

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Not surprising, defeated Efimova could not conceal her anguish;
she burst into tears openly. How will she face usually stone-faced Vladimir
Putin on return?
However, she is not alone. Many are inclined to fear worst fate
could be awaiting a female athlete from North Korea back home after the games.
Gymnast Hong Un-Jong, who won the gold in the women’s vault and world champion
in 2014 event, apparently got carried away on Monday and helped herself to a
selfie with her counterpart from South Korea, Lee Eun-Ju.
President Kim Jong Un
But the political leaders of South Korea and North Korea rarely
see eye to eye on the global stage since 1945 when Korea was decided along
ideological lines with the North leaning towards communist Soviets while the
South befriends the west. Till date, both countries are like cat and mouse with
periodic clashes at their borders.
With the shadow of trigger-happy Kim Jong-un still looming across
Pyoyang, no one is sure yet if he is amused by that selfie. The reason why
Un-Jong needs your prayers.