In the wake of the Olympics, commentators jump on the bandwagon to speculate on what London 2012 meant for the European Union. But how serious do we have to take these attempts?
With the 2012 Olympics in London at an end, national delegations head home – hopefully with a couple of medals tucked away in their luggage. The world’s biggest sporting event showed national athletes in its search to boost the nation’s glory once more.
The Games were also “the most watched Olympic Games in history”, or at least in Europe. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) published a report on the viewing figures of their members – most of them national public broadcasters from around the continent.
An EBU spokesperson explained to the EUobserver that a sense of ownership could be among the explanations for the increased figures: having the event hosted so close to home might reinforce the public’s interest. But the spokesperson points out that similar time zones to London’s GMT would be a more significant explanation.
With the world – and Europe – watching, some surprising commentary on the Games could be suspected. Across the web, remarkable initiatives popped up in the past weeks.
The website www.medaltracker.eu aggregated the Olympic medals won by EU countries. The result? The European Union tops the table with twice as many gold medals as the United States and three times the total number of medals. (A “Thank you, Team GB” seems appropriate here.)
So, should the EU start competing under one flag, as was raised elsewhere on the web? Or should athletes hold the EU flag next to their national one, as former EU Commission president Romano Prodi suggested in 2008?
In a comment on Presseurop.eu, Gian Paolo Accardo says one EU team would make the Games a lot more boring – not to mention the nightmare officials will go through when selecting the athletes.
Still, in a comment on Euractiv.com researcher Piotr Maciej Kaczynski says that the high amount of medals shows the EU is still “a major soft power (at least in its sportive dimension), despite the global financial turmoil and economic crisis”.
On the other side of the spectrum, Adrian Hilton on the Daily Mail Online deemed the moment right for his idea: the Olympics have revived Britain’s “dormant patriotic identity from the petrifying cryogenics of the EU’s ‘ever closer union’”.
“If we do not need a [...] EU ‘Common Sporting Policy,” Hilton takes a swing at it, “what need a common fisheries policy, agriculture policy, foreign and security policy, energy policy, justice policy, social chapter, humanitarian aid, airspace, army, citizenship, passport…?”
While national media reflect on the success of their Olympic delegations, other commentators are on a quest to answer what the Games meant for European relations.
But let’s be honest: how many comments have managed to find a sincere European spin to this Olympic story that does more than provoke a laugh?
These examples are without doubt not the only circulating comments that take a Europe-centred approach to the Games. Did you see others worth mentioning – or that raise eyebrows? Drop a line in our comments section or tweet @youropadotorg.