Even if Adolf Hitler has been forgotten by history, which is debatable, our own octogenarian “parachuting” head of state should have been a recent enough reminder of the propensity of the powerful to see large-scale sporting events as an opportunity for a bit of grandstanding.
The Women’s Open, it is fair to suggest, is not yet on a par with the Olympics but, in selecting Turnberry to host this year’s event, the organisers could have foreseen that its owner, Donald Trump, would arrive in a helicopter bearing his name and wearing a fringe-hiding, slogan-bearing baseball cap to campaign for the United States presidency.
Why would he not? Golf is an equal-opportunities sport now – you only need to spend 18 seconds within earshot of the still infuriated Peter Alliss to find that out – and if the ladies want to be taken seriously they have no right to expect to have their round go uninterrupted by an immigrant-hating, gun-nut with a massive chopper and a yet... fill the rest in yourself.
Plus, The Donald’s eminently predictable touchdown at “Trump Turnberry” was nothing if not brave. Everyone knows that where there are Mexicans there will be crime, drugs and probably rape, because he told us that in a speech two weeks ago, so he should be commended for his courage in parking his helicopter so close to where Lizette Salas, the US daughter of Mexican immigrants, was too busy eyeing up a difficult three-iron to bother commenting on her future president’s near certifiable lunacy.
(This is after all, a man who blamed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris earlier this year on France’s overly strict gun laws. No comparable incident could ever happen in the US.)
It bodes well for the great man’s presidential fortunes, too. Deploying sport for one’s own political gain before so much as winning an election is a first. Trump would, he said “get along very well” with Vladimir Putin, though even everyone’s favourite KGB tiger wrestler had to go through the democratic motions a few times for the right to a fortnight of grinning his way around the Sochi Olympics, and staying, we presume, in a hotel in which he wasn’t warned against using the “very dangerous” tap water on his face.
Knowing one is soon to host an Olympic opening ceremony oneself would for most people be cause enough not to use someone else’s as cover to invade another country, as Putin did during Beijing 2008 when sending troops into Georgia. But then, most people wouldn’t launch an invasion while hosting the Games either, as he did with Ukraine last year. Most people are not Vladimir Putin.
Sporting bodies continually warn that politicians must not interfere in sport. What would have been one of Sepp Blatter’s final acts, had he not chosen to stick around for one last encore, was an amendment to Fifa’s statutes to shield it from meddling politicians who insist on making nuisances of themselves by calling for boycotts of this or that over the state-sanctioned murder of him or her. Yet sporting bigwigs don’t seem overly concerned that their great baubles do not now appear to hold much appeal to nations encumbered by democracy. Oslo said no to the 2022 Winter Games, citing an unwillingness to cede to the IOC’s demands for VIP hotels and special traffic lanes.
Which is why, as of Friday, that event will be hosted in mountainless, snowless Beijing, about which embarrassed officials, when asked about human-rights violations, will spend seven years claiming the Games can be a “catalyst for social change”. This despite the awkward fact that the last Beijing Olympics was only seven years ago and has achieved absolutely nothing.
Even so, no one imagined the Women’s Open would play such a crucial role in the race for the White House, but they had reasoned without the man so consistently known on social media as “Fuckface von Clownstick” that he has even adopted the term itself.
Nothing makes a wrong’un seem all right like an association with sport. Why else would it suddenly be worth billions? Today, the women’s golf. Tomorrow, the White House. Then what? Well, don’t tell him, but I think there’s a job going at Fifa. With the right backers, I’m sure Trump could be parachuted into it.Reuse content