Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Orry Visits Melbourne

A friend of mine sent me these photos ages ago. Orry is the mascot of the Asian Games and a few months ago, he visited Melbourne, went to the MCG, rode a tram and sampled some bacon.

So the Games are all over now. I guess you could say they were a success... It rained everyday after not raining for 8 months previously, the rain was the heaviest the country has seen in 42 years, two volunteers and one athlete were killed and the volunteers are planning a revolt because they thought they were going to be paid at the end.

All of this aside though, have to admit that they were pretty good. I did get to go out to a couple of events. Watched 'Qatar' be beaten in extra time in the basketball. I say 'Qatar' because the team seemed to be made up of africans with amercian accents. Went to the beach volleyball to observe how the men in thobes who stare at me when I don't cover my elbows would handle the ladies in bikinis. They didn't seem to mind too much funnily! A lot of them even brought their sons along for a perve as well. Went to the Sepaktakraw, which is volleyball using your feet. That was amazing. The photos sort of give you an idea of how they play.

But the best event I attended was the Football. Football is definitely the blue ribbon event for Qatar. They reallly love their football and, like with the basketball, have invested a lot of money into nationalising some very good players and coaches in order to do well. They ended up winning Gold and the atmosphere was unbelievable. Was a nightmare trying to get into the stadium though. The semi-final which I went to was scheduled to be played at Al Gharrafa - a 40,000 capacity stadium. A few hours before the game however, the Emir, decides that he wants it moved to Qatar's 'lucky ground' Al Sadd - 12,000 capacity. This would be bad enough but he also decided an hour out from the Game that everyone should be entitled to watch the match, despite whether they had a ticket or not. Obviously, this resulted in chaos with some very agressive crowd control being called in with batons and shields to keep the people back while they attempted to close the gates.

The Opening Ceremony was really really amazing. I will post some photos of that soon. Multi-million dollar budget meant that it will be a long time before any Games puts on something that good again. The Closing Ceremony was almost as impressive.

Now that the Games are over, DAGOC are keeping me hostage in this country over Christmas and New Years and then finally allowing me to leave on January 15. It is going to be a very boring month with very little to do in this country but I am sure I will manage. Counting down the days though!!!


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