"There's alcohol, there are ladies - it's all good. My wife was supposed to come but unfortunately she's had to go to a hen do, so I've brought my friend along and he's quite pleased."Ah yes, beach volleyball. Babes in bikinis. Carry On up the Horse Guards Parade. It's the standing schoolboy joke of the Olympics, from Boris Johnson's 'wet otters' to the use of Benny Hill's theme music - which basically says "we all know why you're here, and sport has very little to do with it".
(A spectator at the women's beach volleyball, as quoted by the BBC)
It's a thoroughly incongruous situation; here is an Olympic event, trailing clouds of classical glory by association, where the high-flown phraseology of the sport's Olympic guidelines carries a distinctly dubious message.
Take, for example, the requirements for Athens, that most classical of Olympic venues. While the men's uniform followed a basic singlet-and-shorts pattern, merely stating it should be close-fitting and not baggy, the women's kit was described in meticulous and heavy-breathing detail:
'The top must fit closely to the body and the design must be with deep cutaway armholes on the back, upper chest and stomach.[...] The briefs should be a close fit and be cut on an upward angle towards the top of the leg. The side width must be maximum 7 cm.'It's interesting to note that the dress guidelines for the sport in general are far less draconian, requiring merely that participants wear 'shorts or a bathing suit'. It's only when the Olympic committees get involved that the real nit-picking starts - though it's hard to see exactly how the aims of 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' are served by officially ensuring that women are exposing their 'upper chests' and a sufficient amount of thigh.
Formed, no doubt, by the demands of television coverage, this bizarre fusion of formality and exploitation characterises the hypocrisy that underlies much of the Olympic 'ideal' - that same hypocrisy that sees fat cats living it up in the name of inclusivity and brotherhood while drawing aside the hem of their collective garment from the masses at every opportunity.
If the use of the Benny Hill theme is an acknowledgement of the real priorities of the spectators, perhaps this aspect too should be enshrined in Olympic ritual:
"Good morning, and welcome to Horse Guards Parade for the final of the women's beach volleyball....and now we can see Lord Coe passing the official binoculars to Jacques Rogge in preparation for the Ceremonial Ogle, this taking place, of course, just before the two of them exchange the traditional "Phworrr!"..."