- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

They are missing the point in Australia if they think the presence of drag queens in the closing ceremony is a potential source of embarrassment.

Rest easy, Australia.

Your gender-bending excursion is a couple of steps up in class from the kickbacks and performance-enhancing substances that have come to symbolize the Olympic Games.

Drag queens add a modicum of integrity to a spectacle that has lost its relevance, honor and dignity.

Priscilla, the queen of the outback, exuded a certain uprightness in the 1994 flick.

That is more than can be said for Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, whose gender-appropriate threads do not conceal his shamelessness.

If sanitizing the premises is the goal, the Aussies might start with Samaranch. His presence is toxic.

All the expensive fragrances in the world cannot offset the stench coming from his leadership and the pharmaceutical-laced competitions that pretend to be genuine.

America invests its network and corporate money, along with hordes of journalists, and tries not to look too hard.

The athlete who has overcome one dead grandparent and two life-threatening diseases, plus periodic bouts of asthma and beriberi is the rule. You are encouraged to sniffle on cue.

The most vigorous competition takes place in the lavatories and laboratories out of camera range. There's nothing like a clean specimen, even if the specimen comes from a vial hidden in an orifice. Masking agents also work. You make the call, depending on your dexterity around watchful eyes.

The Summer Games come around only once every four years, and for that everyone can be thankful.

Samaranch and his hypocritical minions condemned the commercialization of the Atlanta Games four years ago, even as they lined their pockets with Coca-Cola gold behind the doors to their five-star hotel rooms.

They should have been rebuked, the ingrates, if not deported. Instead, members of the American media mostly went along with the criticism, largely because it fit their mushy sensibilities, which go like this: Corporate America is somehow evil but living with a plate stuck in your mouth in a tropical rain forest is somehow noble.

The self-loathing extends to flag-waving Americans. That is jingoistic, you fat, ugly American, you. Waving any other flag is a sign of patriotism.

The wrongheadedness goes with the bloated event, pushing as it does naive notions and empty appeals. Ballroom dancing does not bring the people of the world together.

Samaranch has survived to the age of the Internet, which opens more doors in one night than all the competitions combined.

The Aussies hardly know what is going to overtake them next month, at least no more than Billy Payne and the innocents in Atlanta did. The Aussies can't help but be guilty, although they are the ones leasing Sydney to the world. They didn't have to do that.

They are entitled to a slip, as well as to drag queens, if Samaranch and his money-grubbing, ever-pretentious, protocol-minded cronies must pollute the environment with their foul air.

Samaranch even expects the red-carpet treatment from Mother Nature. He recently expressed concern with the unseasonably cool temperatures in Sydney.

In a way, drag queens are an appropriate metaphor for the competitions, given the number of chemically enhanced women flirting with the XY chromosome.

The lament of the American delegation sometimes is: "That's a woman?"

The dung already has hit the fan, according to the Aussie government. Customs officials there have made a record 1,125 seizures of performance-enhancing substances in the past 12 months.

That is barely a dent, if that.

It seems no self-respecting world-class athlete leaves home without a pharmacy nowadays.

Drag queens in the closing ceremony?

Please, Australia.

To paraphrase an old American football star, loosen up, baby, you're too tight.

Drag queens shout their farce to entertain. The Olympic Games hide theirs.

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