The 2012 Olympics opening ceremony has started tonight in London where the Olympic torch has lit a big bowl of fuel in East London. The torch relay was introduced in 1936 by the Nazi German government whose dreams of Aryan glory were shaken by African American Jesse Owens' multiple gold medals.
Halldór Kiljan Laxness, Iceland's greatest novelist, left-winger and future Nobel Laureate, was in Germany at the time visiting Leipzig. He went to see potential publishers for a German translation of his great novel Salka Valka and stopped off at Berlin when a friend managed to get him tickets to the Games. Unlike other Icelandic commentators, Halldór wasn't impressed that Icelandic athletes were there at all;
'It can be said in praise of the Icelandic "athletes" who were taking their ease there, that none of them had even the lowest level of ability that was required for these games, but got to be there, as far as I could understand, because they belonged to the fairer race, as the Germans consider themselves, and the only way they drew attention to themselves was by giving the fascist salute on the field and denying at the same time the one thing that they could have shown: respect for their own nation.'