In advance of the Olympics, the organizers have attempted to clear a path through the geopolitical minefield of the visiting countries who have either bad relations now or bad history in general.
On the topic of housing in the Olympic Village, check out a very thorough report from The Independent that includes breakdowns on decor, athlete crushes, and much, much more.
The Swiss delegation is probably the easiest to assign a space for. In all, 203 countries have teams staying in the village, many of whom’s animosity towards one another extends far beyond the synchronised swimming pool.
Israel and Iran are housed at opposite ends of the village; TeamGB [Great Britain] are suitably far away from their Argentine counterparts; and the German contingent have been placed a good distance from the Greeks.
This seems like a fair deal for everyone. No one wants a repeat of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, at which the Iranian and Israeli delegations ended up sitting near to each other because the seats were alphabetized.
After the event, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and Israeli President Moshe Katsav–both of whom grew up in the same town in Iran–ended up chatting with each other amicably for a few minutes in Farsi before they were seen shaking hands. Back in Iran, Khatami denied ever shaking hands with Katsav; Katsav got raked over the coals by the Israeli press.
On a warmer note, according to The Independent, the Olympics is also a time for love:
Olympic athletes tend to make love not war. The Sydney village ran out of its 70,000 condoms and had to call in 20,000 more. Athens went for 180,000 – too many – but things were very different then. Beijing provided 100,000 but, typically, have never divulged if there were any left over. Durex are providing “tens of thousands” this time round but, as they are not an official sponsor, they will be in unbranded packets.
Let’s hope for the best in all manners of sport.