The Olympic Organising Committee has waited until the 2012 Olympics were concluded to announce that for future olympics they want to do something different. Because of the particular approach and expertise of my church in liturgy, the Anglican Church of Or has been contracted to run future olympics. The contract will last for at least the next two decades.
The Liturgical Committee has been intensely meeting around the clock for an hour or so and from that has developed a comprehensive strategic plan which will be world-leading in its innovations. Nothing this exciting can be kept secret for long. These are some of the key points that translate liturgical experience and expertise in our church to the stage of sport:
- Flags are obviously outdated. Teams will be given cloths of various sizes, paint, and a variety of objects (they may bring their own) to create a symbol that best expresses their particular team spirit. They can enter the arena in any manner that they agree together as a group, by consensus.
- There will, of course, be no uniforms. They were a silly idea.
- Using an olympic flame, and running that from place to place, lacks originality. A flame obviously no longer has much meaning in a world that has discovered electricity. Each time the games meet in the next two decades some ritual will be developed instead by the host country. No ritual may be used more than once.
- Receiving different types of medals, having varying heights of the podium, the national flags, the national anthem – these are so many meaningless rituals that have, through incessant repetition, been emptied of any purpose. All this will be abandoned. There is no need to replace them with other rituals which themselves will quickly lose meaning.
- Each event will be a unique combination of creativity and originality. Each event will have a group of three or so leaders who will give instructions throughout the event of the ever-changing requirements throughout the event. For example: leaders may choose to start at the finishing line, have participants run half the track, and then call to change to a high-jump. Large screens will keep participants informed about what they should be doing next.
- There will be no training or preparation for the participants prior to the actual olympics. Training and preparation is antithetical to the spirit of the younger generation whom we want to keep attracting to sporting events like this and get new generations to help maintain our expensive sporting venues. “Sporting Facilitators” will be provided with intensive training over a whole weekend. These facilitators will enable sporting events by providing training to participants as the particular event unfolds.
- Age groups will be kept separate, and compete separately.
- For those young people who prefer cafe to sport, some events will be modelled on cafes. The sporting component might be in the form of speed drinking a coffee, etc.
- Some leaders of events will choose to combine the sports that they themselves find most moving. Javelin, hammer-throw, and the 100 meter sprint, is an obvious, very-moving combination in one event.
- For the elderly who like that sort of thing, there will still be a few regular, traditional sporting fixtures, very early in the morning.
- Obviously, there will be no opening or closing ceremony, that is far too formal for the third millennium. We want to future-proof the games for the upcoming generations. Rules, agreements, preparation, discipline, and planning are no longer appropriate. Decisions need to be instant. Spontaneity is the key.
- There will be some confusion between this more appropriate, contemporary approach that will be found from now on and the “rules” and “agreements” of sports and Olympics still seeming to be binding. Nothing will be done about people who breach agreements – even the new ones. Any correction or criticism is, obviously, totally contrary to the new spirit of the games. All this will also help participants realise that any public promises made are done so only for dramatic effect and are in no way to be take seriously or to be understood to actually mean what they say.
- Whenever anyone refers to these now-obviously outdated rules and agreements they can be put in their place by calling them “sporting fundamentalists”, “Olympics fundamentalists”, and by quoting founding heroes: “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game”.
- As this new generation moves into leadership in the next decades, they clearly will not know the rules and agreements that once were part of sport. Any half-remembered sporting rules will patently be understood as having been part of a backward, legalistic time in sporting history that we have now grown out of.
These are just a few of the ideas that show how the cutting-edge, world-leading liturgical understandings of our church can reinvigorate the Olympic movement which is, without question, needing our expertise because it is so weighed down with preparation, training, discipline, symbolism, agreements, and tradition.