Olympic spirit preempts biases

Yamagata

Barry Andrew Ward proposes that a rather odd “anti-English” prejudice exists at the BBC. I say “rather odd,” because in my experience, the opposite is often the case: Commentators at the BBC often praise the efforts of athletes from the Celtic Nations of the U.K. as coming from “proud Britons” when they are winning, but if the athletes lose, they are “dejected Scots, Welsh, or Irish.”

Additionally the nationality “English” is often seen as synonymous with “British” by a large number of people in England. Even the Union Jack, which incorporates flags representing England, Ireland and Scotland is used as an English flag — English football team supporters being the major culprits here, but by no means the only ones. The flag can also be seen at marches by the far-right English Defense League. So, blaming the “Celts” for using “British” in place of “English” is misplaced.

The Commonwealth Games — the event that provokes Ward’s ire — organizes the U.K. teams separately: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

If English people are described as “British” at this event, and the competitors from the Celtic Nations as their own individual nationality, then the insult is not to the English, as Ward asserts, but to the Celts who are being told that they are not true citizens of the United Kingdom. As for government subsidies to the Celtic Nations of the U.K., something better is needed, but the whole setup was devised by an Englishman, so Scotland is the last place that should be blamed for this.

There is prejudice directed against the English from some in other parts of the U.K. That does not excuse prejudicial attitudes held by some in England. … People should rise above such base instincts. So here’s to a good show from the English, Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh athletes in the Olympics, and a lack of prejudice all around — which is what the Olympic spirit is all about.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

eamon watters