Instant Opinion

‘The Olympics have become a joyless chore’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press


Leo Lewis in the Financial Times

Japan presses ahead with its great Olympics gamble

on the show that must go on

“Last Friday, in a shotgun marriage between rising Covid-19 infection numbers and the imminent delivery of the Olympic Games, the Japanese government prolonged its state of emergency for Tokyo and other regions until the end of the month,” writes Leo Lewis in the Financial Times. “Citizens of the world’s most populous city will be called upon not to make any ‘unnecessary’ trips beyond their homes. For a government and a people inviting the world’s athletes to run, jump and sweat in Tokyo less than 11 weeks from now, a lot hinges on that word.” In its push for the Olympics to go ahead, the Japanese government risks “spending future months and years trying to convince voters that, whatever it may have looked like, they were always more important than water polo and the pole vault”. Not to mention the most “demoralising” problem of all: the games have now become “a joyless chore rather than the soaring festival of achievement, ambition and togetherness the Olympics can be, at their best”.


Stephen Bush in The Times

Sir Keir Starmer’s poor judgment has been exposed

on party leadership

“In painful times, that’s when it’s most important for an opposition leader to remember the Mastercard principle: there’s plenty in political life you can’t control, so it’s important not to mess up the few things you can,” writes Stephen Bush in The Times. “[Keir] Starmer has, thus far, flunked that particular test.” He made a “misguided attempt to move against” his deputy, Angela Rayner, but the “resulting row in Labour, rather like the difficult election results that preceded it, is temporary”, writes Bush. But what may not be is “what it seems to have revealed about Starmer: that he cannot get the few decisions within his control right”. Bush concludes: “The fact that he has failed to do so in bad times means that it is equally likely he will fail to do so in the moments that favour his party.”


Hamish McRae in The Independent

The fun Elon Musk has with Dogecoin shows us the irrationality of value

on the cryptocurrency gamble

“Central bankers detest them, billionaires joke about them – and the rest of us fret when and how the game will end,” writes Hamish McRae in The Independent. “The great debate about cryptocurrencies has taken a new twist in the past few days. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, warned that they had no intrinsic value and holders should be prepared to lose all their money,” writes McRae, while “on the other side of the Atlantic, Elon Musk joked on Saturday Night Live (SNL) about Dogecoin as a Mother’s Day gift, whereupon the price promptly fell by nearly 30 per cent”. “I suppose if you are the second richest person in the world you are allowed to make jokes about more or less anything,” continues McRae, “but in a way he is saying the same thing as Andrew Bailey. There is no intrinsic value in cryptocurrencies, and the value is whatever people are prepared to put on them.”


Mary Harrington in The Post by Unherd

Status games are targeting motherhood

on maternal culture wars 

“It’s official: thinking it’s normal to have children is now a low-status Right-wing dog-whistle,” writes Mary Harrington in The Post. When Elizabeth Bruenig, a New York Times columnist, recently wrote about how she didn’t regret becoming a mother at 25, it triggered a “furious reaction from the ‘child-free’ and late mothers alike”, writes Harrington. “Apparently enjoying motherhood, and wanting more support for young families, marks you out as ‘a Trad Wife masquerading as a progressive.’ We are beginning to see a ‘division of class, culture and status’ opening in the domain of fertility,” she writes. Bruenig’s position sees children as “normal and natural” Harrington claims, while her critics see children “as at best an opt-in flag to stick in an already-ascended summit of life achievements”. 


Katy Balls in The Guardian

Two more Tory terms? Before the party gets too excited, there is work to be done

on shifting politics 

“Unsurprisingly a bout of Boris-mania has broken out in the parliamentary party” after the Conservatives enjoyed big wins in the local elections this week, writes Katy Balls in The Guardian. “After a difficult few weeks of negative headlines for the prime minister on Tory sleaze, MPs feel reassured that his brand is firmly intact,” she says. “But for all the heady forecasts of Tory wins for years to come, not everyone is on the same page. As more results have come in over the weekend, the picture has become more complicated.” Other incumbents saw significant success, such as Welsh Labour, the SNP in Scotland and Labour metro mayor Andy Burnham. “My colleagues have very short memories,” one sceptical MP told Balls. “Just six months ago they were all talking about how long [Johnson] would last. Things can change fast.”


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