Thursday, September 02, 2004

Spoiling the Triumph

You should never underestimate Croatian politicans' ability to mess things up. This is true even for Croatian Olympic triumphs.

First one of those scandals was quietly put under the carpet. Vrdoljak denied saying anything wrong about President Stjepan Mesić (Stjepan Mesic). Mesić, on the other hand, found convenient excuse to stay in Croatia and that left only Sanader to go to Olympic handball final game. It was quiet move, but very shrewd. By not going, Mesić all but confirmed Vrdoljak's story while not burning bridges with world Olympic establishment and not creating serious diplomatic incident.

Mesić's subtlety is style not appreciated by other players in Croatian political arena, including Croatian sports officials. Spectacular homecoming ceremony for Croatian handball team in Zagreb was marked by another scandal. Top officials of Croatian Olympic Committee were denied access on the stage. Later it turned out that Croatian Handball Association officials were unhappy with Croatian Olympic Committee decision to have water polo player as a flag carrier on the opening ceremony in Athens.

For some mysterious reasons, Skelin brothers, silver medallists in rowing, were also denied the access.

But politicians, at least some, also had their comeuppance. Jadranka Kosor, one of the more ambitious and more populist HDZ politicians, tried to take part in Zagreb ceremony. Her appearance on the stage was, however, followed by passionate boos by some 100,000 citizens of Zagreb. I guess that such embarrassment all but kills any speculations about her presidential run.


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