The few remaining members of the human race with a natural resistance to sport were said to still be laughing now, after hearing this morning’s widely-reported announcement that an estimated four billion people would be watching the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games today.
“With an estimated global population of just under 6.7bn, that would mean that six out of every ten people on Earth are currently glued to their TV screens watching a load of athletes poncing about in a queue,” said the solitary BBC reporter who was left behind to man the Television Centre newsroom for a fortnight. “Of course they are. Nobody’s working, or sleeping, or struggling to eke out a marginal existence in some godforsaken corner of the earth, are they? Welcome to the world of media hype, ladies and gentlemen - I’m afraid it’s going to be like this for the next couple of weeks.”
Combatants on all sides, in conflicts all over the world, lay down their weapons and gathered together around the nearest TV screen or mobile phone to stare slack-jawed at the tacky spectacle of gaudy medal-chasers prancing around the Beijing stadium.
Meanwhile, forty million drooling, Olympic-addicted viewers in the UK said they were rabidly looking forward to a relentless 24-hour diet of sheepdog trials, fly fishing, deep-sea diving, street brawling, cheese rolling, worm charming, tiddlywinks, World of Warcraft and countless other non-events where British competitors might be in with a passing chance of earning a gong of some kind, or at least not trip over their shoelaces.
The few people who find themselves totally unmoved by the $40bn extravaganza are said to be planning a small get-together, deep in a cave on some remote island.
Later, on their way back to their respective countries after the opening ceremony, the world’s politicians will no doubt be looking forward to two weeks in which they could cheerfully throw disabled people into wood-chippers, and nobody would know or care.