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A Bigger Prize by Margaret Heffernan

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CHAPTER 5

Keeping Score

Nations have a sense of global pecking order every bit as fierce as the pecking orders among individuals. So in 2000, when Sydney hosted the Olympic Games, the Australians found themselves the butt of many British jokes. Singled out for scorn was the design of the Games medals, which featured the Roman Colosseum. Didn’t the ignorant Aussies know the difference between ancient Greece (where the Games were invented) and ancient Rome, where the famous arena stood? As imperious journalists mocked their hosts’ lack of a classical education, they conveniently overlooked the fact that the medal design wasn’t Australian and had ...

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