It would be hilarious were it not for the genuine efforts of so many amateur Olympic athletes here.
In a country of 4.5 million souls with a strong pub culture and a laid back attitude to life, there is low expectations when it comes to international sporting events. We went ape-shit when we were dumped out of the Euros several years ago and went off out rockers when our quest for World Cup stardom ended after that. We paddies are up for a good time and a laugh and both competitions provided both for weeks at a time.
Put simply, we are just grateful to see the green shirt with the shamrock, even getting to the world stage. So when it comes to the Olympics, we are not really betting on gold in any competition. Indeed our recent history at these events is mired in controversy. The ghastly specter of drugs raised its ugly head when one of our show-jumpers was fucked out over it several years ago now. Subsequently there was great craic here when the official report of that incident showed that it was, in fact, the horse who was bouncing around with the aid of something, ah! illicit.
Then to our consternation and absolute glee, a bird we'd never heard of before, showed up poolside wearing a fetching green swimsuit and won three golds and a silver. It was license to go on the piss for a month at the time. Who knew we had a superhuman in our ranks? Of course poor old Michelle was rumbled for some illicit carry-on before diving in and had the medals promptly stripped. A national hangover was called for with the inevitable hair of the dog to go with it. Gas-lads here speculated that she must have been so high on the good stuff, the only wonder was that when she dived into the water, she didn't dissolve. We're a good-natured lot over here, aren't we?
Anyway, this time around, we first had a medal hope in boxing discovered to have been at the good stuff too and duly sent home. The pallor of cheats hung over the green section of the village as a result of the lad. Then just as a couple of likely lads from West Cork were restoring our faith in Olympic sport in a rowing boat, up pops a guy called Kevin Mallon, (no relation), and our Kev has event tickets for sale on the black market, six hundred and fifty of the fucking things actually. He was duly nabbed by the Brazilian Gestapo with the smoking gun and the latest is that he's, "Helping them with their enquiries," – 'ahem.'
Cue our squeaky-clean new Minister for Sport, Shane Ross, as he rented his garments on live radio about the absolute scandal of it all. The pompous bastard flapped around almost lost for words as he assured the fearful Irish Nation that'd he'd be hot-foot onto the Government jet for a jolly, I mean a serious of come-to-Jesus meeting with the Irish Olympic Council down Rio way pronto. Shane was on a mission to get to the bottom of it but the President of the IOC gave him the cold shoulder when he showed up. We did not hear whether he told Ross to 'fuck-off,' but from the expressed outrage of the Minister afterwards, it wasn't too far off that. We Irish love the circus of it all and the place was abuzz with the humour of it. Effectively, our Minister for Sport met an even bigger pompous ego than his own and was staggered there was even such a thing.
Overseas readers should know that the sitting Minister for Sport signs off on the public funding for the IOC annually so arrogant President Pat Hickey was on shaky ground to say the least. The smart money is on the theory that the lad is in his seventies now, has seen several of these empty wind-bag Ministers come and go in his time and with retirement merely yards away, he just didn't give a shit. What the old smoothie didn't think of though was he wasn't at home where a Garda wouldn't risk his career arresting such a stately figure as the IOC President.
The Brazilian Gestapo though had no such qualms. They raided his hotel room last night and although his wife plainly lied and said he was out, they nabbed the lad a few doors down in his son's room. He was led away in his dressing gown to the clink but he pleaded a heart condition in the, ahem, taxi and they stopped off at the hospital instead. Ever with an eye on favorable PR, the bold Pat knew that images of him in his night attire but with chains on, would not play well at home. A cute old whore then.
In his absence however, the local uniforms called a press conference during which they displayed his travel details, outlined the correct protocol for ticket distribution and topped the whole thing off with charging him on three counts. Apparently, they found some phones, an iPad and some tickets in the rooms they raided and are satisfied that "El Presidente," had a case to answer based on his e-mail exchanges. The politico's here are in crisis while the rest of us laugh our holes off at it all.
After all, we're sport-mad in Ireland and this is what we call real sport!