IF Don Wigan is going to make accusations about hypocrisy (‘Flying flag of humanity’, The Standard, August 11), it would be prudent of him to ensure that his own comments are free of it.
He states that he has “no particular issue” with my “flag business”, then in his very next sentence he calls my flag business sheer hypocrisy. Incorrectly, I might add.
He has contradicted himself. It is hypocrisy to say he has no issue and then proceed to outline issues which he clearly does have.
Mr Wigan’s first mistake is his evidence that I am hypocritical in not objecting to the display of the boxing kangaroo because it has no official or Olympic status.
Wrong, Mr Wigan, it has both. And apart from that, it is a mascot. It was never flown as our country’s national flag.
Will he make the same criticisms about the Chinese with a giant panda on flags at Beijing, or the brown bear, Misha, at Moscow in 1980?
The status of the boxing kangaroo is official.
Doesn’t his memory go back as far as the winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 when the IOC ordered the removal of a giant two-storey high boxing kangaroo banner strung from a balcony at the Olympic village?
The Australian Olympic Committee objected against the ban, as did deputy PM at the time, Julia Gillard, and they won on the grounds it is Australia’s recognised sporting symbol since winning the America’s Cup in 1983, and that it is a registered trademark owned by the AOC, since it purchased the image from Alan Bond.
The symbol also had significance long before that when it was painted on our fighter planes and the navy used it during WWII. So why would I, or anyone else, object to its use?
Mr Wigan’s errors continue in his disgraceful slander of French athlete Marie-Jose Perec.
She did not give various reasons for her withdrawal from Sydney in 2000, just one, and she certainly was not hysterical.
In the only interview she gave, to French magazine L’Equipe, by phone, the journalist quoted her as saying, “she did not fear Freeman, the Australian whose duel with Perec had been expected to be a high point of the Olympics”.
‘‘Freeman didn’t frighten me, and she still doesn’t frighten me today,’’ Perec was quoted as saying.
She added that she was in top form and thought she could have run the race in less than 49 seconds; Freeman won in 49.11 seconds.
Perec said her fear grew out of harassment from strangers, at her hotel, in supermarkets, and everywhere else.
“There wasn’t a day that I wasn’t tracked, like an animal, truly,’’ she said.
So where are the other so-called hysterical reasons?
The facts are not as simple as Mr Wigan intimates and has nothing to do with form in the lead-up to the event.
Cathy Freeman was not beaten while competing injured; she took a break after being injured and returned in 1999.
Both athletes would not have made selection for the Olympics if, as Mr Wigan scurrilously claims, Perec was past her prime and to say that she was unsuccessful in preserving her dignity is slanderous.
I do not make such comments about any athlete, including Cathy Freeman.
My letter simply asked the same questions that were being asked at the time.
Whatever politics or pressure went on in the background, Cathy was a talented athlete.
She was thrust into the position of role model and ambassador for indigenous sport and her people, and she has carried out that role with dignity and grace, consistently refusing to allow herself to be used as a political pawn in sport or anywhere else.
Nowhere is that more aptly portrayed than in the recent Coles ad where the ‘spirit’ of Cathy appears smiling at a young Aboriginal girl running on a dusty country track. The scene is truly inspirational.
Mr Wigan’s errors and contradictions continue on ad nauseam in his very lengthy ramble, too many to address here, but the glaring ones need mention.
He wished to correct me on my interpretation of the black power salute, then he says I was correct. Pardon me!
Then he goes on with a lengthy history and a character assassination of Avery Brundage, all of which points to his agreeing with allowing the Olympics to be hijacked for any political grandstanding, provided the cause is sympathetic to Westerners or political or racial minorities.
It doesn’t matter which side of politics people or nations are on, whether Communist or Westerner, Muslim, Christian or Jew, black or white.
All are equal at the Olympics and politics are kept right out of it.
That was a point I made in my letter regarding Mr Clark’s comments, and I also demonstrated that Cathy Freeman’s carrying of both flags did not set precedents because permission was sought first.
The examples I used clearly demonstrated those Olympic ideals.
Mr Wigan has entirely missed the point.
Peter Morris, Robertson Street, East Geelong