After last night’s Olympic closing ceremony, and as the world is praising the host country for the quality of the XXX Games, France’s grudge for losing the Olympics 7 years ago is still alive.
Indeed, while the newspapers of many countries are celebrating the success of the London 2012 Olympic games and congratulating Great Britain for its performances, it is nearly impossible to find any praise in France’s major newspapers. Today’s Le Monde articles quickly passed on the quality of the closing ceremony to remind its readers that the Olympic effect would be short and the British would quickly be reminded of the bad economic situation of their country. In fact, for the past two weeks, one of the main activities in France was to blame every French defeat on the British. This activity even had a name: “British bashing”. As it is true that there were some decisions in favor of the British team, some decisions were against Britain’s athletes. The case of Victoria Pendleton, who was sanctioned two times, should silence most of the critics. But in France, references to the fact that the Olympics happened on British soil were legion when French athletes we unjustly sanctioned. As if every referee in the Olympics was a perfidious Britt whose mission was to punish every French. One reason can be advance to explain the irritability of France’s supporters: these Olympics should have been their Olympics.
The long lasting rivalry between France and England is infamous, and each country cannot resist the need to remind each other of their defeats. Until last year, travellers going from Paris to London under the Channel were welcome in Waterloo’s train station; a funny way for Britain to remind their favorite enemy who’s the boss. But there is one fresh wound that was perpetually reopened the past two weeks: Paris’ 2005 loss of the Olympics to the perfidious London. From a French point of view, the Britons stole their Olympics. Indeed, Paris had in the general opinion, a better candidacy, a smaller budget, but to everyone’s surprise, England’s capital won the last voting round 54 to 50. This was due to the very intense and highly efficient lobbying from Tony Blair and Sebastian Coe. France’s strategy to focus on the quality of its candidacy while forgetting the importance of lobbying led the French’s to qualify Britain’s victory as one of money and politics over sports.
However, the absence of recognition of the quality of the organization of the Olympics by many French commentators does lack of “fair-play”. In the spirit of the Olympics, France should render therefore unto the Queen the things which are the Queen’s, and tip its hat to the perfidious Albion for the past two weeks of emotion that was offered to the world.