Feschuk: Found in translation

Illustration by Jori Bolton

Look a little deeper and you’ll see there’s hidden meaning in the speech that opened the Olympic Games 

With the world focused on the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony, the speech of new IOC president Thomas Bach was largely overlooked. Let’s take a moment to examine Bach’s remarks. His words are in bold.

Welcome to the 22nd Olympic Winter Games. Tonight, we are writing a new page in Olympic history!

In the spirit of the Sochi Games, the pen cost $17 million. It has three caps, two tips and no ink.

What has been achieved in seven years is a remarkable achievement. 

For instance, with dozens of seconds still remaining until the Olympics are officially declared open, hotel construction is almost 60 percent completed!

Thousands of volunteers have welcomed us with the well-known warm
Russian hospitality. 

Factoid: “Well-known warm Russian hospitality” are the most words ever used to say “vodka.”

Thank you to all the workers for your great contribution under sometimes
difficult circumstances. 

Fingers crossed that no one discovers the “hockey rink” is a big cardboard cutout of Madison Square Garden.

Thank you to Sochi. Thank you for your patience, thank you for your understanding during these years of transformation. 

Bach is either praising a city or breaking up with a girl named Sochi who worked two jobs while he toured East Germany with his rockabilly band.

Now you are living in an Olympic region. I am sure you will enjoy the
benefits for many, many years to come. 

Countless tourists will be drawn here by your substandard plumbing and dog murders!

You are Olympic athletes…you have come here for sports. You have come here with your Olympic dream.

Some of you have come here with your own toilet paper, which was smart because we totally forgot to go to Costco.

Russians have set the stage for you, the best winter athletes on our planet…

… and also Roberto Luongo.

The International Olympic Committee wants your Olympic dream to come true. This is why we are investing almost
all of our revenues in the development of sports.

And not just any sports—we’re investing those revenues in crazy fringe sports that are played by almost no one on the planet. Ski cross! Luge relay! Freestyle flagpole licking! And wait until 2016 in Rio, when we spice up the field events by unveiling the two-person javelin throw-and-catch.

You are living together in the Olympic Village. You will celebrate victory with dignity and accept defeat with dignity. 

This will be easier for ice dancers, since they’ve known the result of their event for months now.

You are bringing the Olympic values to life. In this way, the Olympic Games, wherever they take place, set an example for a peaceful society. 

It’s true. For as long as the deeply symbolic Olympic flame burns over Sochi, all the world will be joined together in a spirit of peace and harmony—except for some of Africa, most of the Middle East and all of Rob Ford.

The Olympic Games unite people…

…in tweeting photographs of their toilets.

Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. 

In Sochi, the bridges are made of papier mâché and only go two-thirds of the
way across, so maybe just wave at the other people?

Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. 

Exception: all the walls we’ve erected around here to keep people apart.

Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity. 

Just don’t literally embrace any of the diversity with Putin around.

Yes, it is possible to live together under one roof in harmony, with tolerance and without any form of discrimination for whatever reason. 

Pretty sure he cribbed this part of his address from every lecture ever given by Mr. Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes.

We all wish you joy in your Olympic effort and a wonderful Olympic experience.

May you always remember the motto of these Sochi Games: Please bring your own shower curtain.

This story originally appeared in Sportsnet magazine. Subscribe here.

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