Yesterday at the Paralympics the Uk Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne was booed by a large number of the crowd in the Olympic Stadium, when his name was announced for a medal presentation ceremony. Similarly, I spent the evening at the Aquatic centre and a significant number of people booed the prime Minister, David Cameron, when he was announced to do similar duties.
I didn’t boo the Prime Minister and I would not have booed Osborne had I been in the stadium either. This is why.
All the athletes at these games have worked hard to get here. The event should be all about them and nothing else. If they have been blessed enough to win a medal then the point where they get to come out and collect their medals should also be totally about them. For me, booing someone that is presenting them with a medal – even for a few seconds – takes part of their special moment away from them, by making it about something other than them.
Now some might argue that policies pursued by the current Coalition government have been so anti-disability that it was right to , as it were ‘call them out’ on that in public – a sort of , ‘have you no shame’ moment. It’s a valid standpoint, but again I would ask whether doing it as part of a Medal Ceremony achieves anything other than taking the focus away from those many of those people booing were no doubt claiming to defend. To illustrate my point. Can anyone reading this tell me, without looking it up, what the medal ceremony was when Osborne was booed or name any of the medal winners? There are now plenty of clips online of the event – all cutting off the moment when the athletes have one of the best moments of their lives. It has become a story about a crowd booing a government minister.
For those who are interested it was Men’s T38 400m, and the event won by Mohamed Farhat Chida of Tunisia. Wenjun Zhou of China took Silver and Union Sekailwe of South Africa the bronze. All three of whom I’m sure are totally familiar with who Mr Osborne is and care very deeply about it. Or more likely haven’t a clue who he is, don’t care, and just want to enjoy their moment. But now, and forever potentially, their moment will be associated with the crowd booing.
I’m not a fan of Mr Cameron or Mr Osborne, but there is a place for showing my approval or not with them, and that is a ballot box. Do you seriously think being booed at a sports event is suddenly going to cause a major re-think of a policy? These moments belong to the athletes and I find I have as little in common with those who cannot see that as I do with the likes of Cameron and Osborne themselves.