Nomadic Author Brings Olympic Into Different Perspective

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Nomadic Author Brings Olympic Into Different Perspective

"I couldn't resist the urge to travel as I woke up one day," said Japanese author Murakami Haruki, 51, in his collection of best-selling essays titled "The Sound of a Drum From Abroad." In fact, he did take a long trip to Europe, travelling for more than three years.

Haruki, who calls himself a "natural-born nomad" visited Sydney on Sept. 9. The purpose of his visit is mainly to research for his upcoming book on the Olympics. The Joong Ang Ilbo (JOINS) met with the author in the Olympic Park's main press center on Sept. 18, and asked this nomadic author who occasionally speaks of nihilism his impressions on the Olympics.

JOINS: Why did you come to the Olympics?
I'm doing a documentary-styled book on the Sydney Olympics, which I hope will be out by the end of this year. I came to Sydney last week to research the games' atmosphere so that I can write the scenes more realistically. I've been hanging out in the stadiums during the day, and writing mostly at night. I am going back to Japan the day after the Olympics end.

JOINS: Did you see the opening ceremony?
Yes. I felt it was too long and perhaps boring. They attempted to show too much in a limited time.
It was so boring that I eventually left the stadium -- around the time Denmark entered. I went straight to the pub, ordered beers and got drunk. I watched the rest of the ceremony on T.V., and that was more interesting.

JOINS: The South Koreans and the North Koreans entered together, hand in hand, during the ceremony.
I understand that the Japanese are showing great interest on that subject, too. Though I wasn't able to see the scene unfold live, for I left the stadium early, it's something truly wonderful. I think one of Korea's time-long dreams is just about to come true.

JOINS: What is your favorite event?
I went to Brisborn to watch the soccer game between Brazil and Japan, and I also went to the baseball game which took place in the Olympic Park. But what caught my interest were the running events, including the marathon, the 10,000-meter race and the triathlon.

JOINS: Why are you interested in track?
As I have mentioned several times in my essays, I am an amateur marathoner. I believe that running is the most primitive form of activities known to human beings. You don't need any instruments when you run. It's just you and your body. It's difficult to explain the thrill that one gets after the strain of running.

JOINS: The Olympics are almost coming to an end. How do you think the games went?
This was the first Olympics I've ever seen in real life. And since I haven't been to other ones, I can't really speak in comparison. One thing is clear, though; they are too crowded, both in terms of people and categories of sports. Can't they reduce the number of sports?

JOINS: Do you have any alternatives to make it a better event?
I think the whole purpose of the Olympics shifted quite a bit. For example, you can't carry any Pepsi products inside the facilities if the sponsors of the Olympics are their competiting corporations. Also, I found that the audience were way too chauvinistic. I feel uncomfortable seeing the audience screaming out "Aussie! Aussie!" It's insane to relate a number of gold medals to national power. Sports are sports. They should be enjoyed at their own value. What does sports have to do with nationalism? I wish that they discard the whole flag and national anthem thing at the end of the events.

JOINS: How is your life in Sydney?
The traffic is bad, it takes me more than hour to go back and forth the stadium to my hotel in Chinatown. I chose to stay in Chinatown because I felt the people there are alive. I watch the games here and pay great attention to the local people, as well. I take memos of their reactions.

JOINS: Are you a memo freak?
I don't usually, but I am trying to absorb many things here. Luckily I am a gifted person when its comes to memorizing. I think as I write which I think is a God-given gift.

by Sydney Press Corps.

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