With the Olympic Games in full flight in Beijing, one would be forgiven for thinking that the residents of Sakhalin Island are too remote and out of touch to follow all the action. But nothing could be further from the truth. So enthralled are the Sakhaliners with the excitement of the games, we decided to hold our own version.
Event 1. Meeting Marathon
Contestants gather in a conference room and hold a meeting. The team which can drag the meeting out for the longest wins. Anybody who is caught advancing the agenda or making a relevant point is given a 2 minute penalty deduction. Any team caught making a decision will be immediately disqualified. Tactics to be encouraged include demanding the previous Meeting Marathon is run again for the benefit of athletes who missed out last time, constantly trying to get athletes who are not present to participate, and inviting athletes who are supposed to be competing in a completely different event.
Prediction: The Netherlands to win gold with ease, silver and bronze go to Russia.
Event 2. Modern Biathlon
Stage 1: Upon arrival at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk international airport, contestants must immediately set about finding a Russian mistress who declares her love for him. Points are awarded according to the following criteria:
i) 1 point if declaration of love occurs before first rotation. 2 points if before HR induction. Athletes are deemed to be out of time if declaration of love has not come before first expense report is paid, or before death through old age, whichever is sooner.
ii) 1 point if the age difference is greater than 20 years, 2 points if the mistress is younger than the athlete’s daughter. Athletes are disqualified if the age gap is less than 5 years.
iii) 1 point if a designer handbag bought for the mistress is Louis Vuitton. Athletes are disqualified if any handbag bought is fake, and her mates point this out.
iv) 1 point if the mistress was discovered in a place other than the Kona Bar, Lounge 8, Cippolinis, or at work. Athletes who present their department translator, lubricated with promises of promotion and pay rises, as a mistress in this event are immediately disqualified.
v) 2 points if the mistress does not smile for the entire event, unless on production of large wads of cash by the athlete. 3 points if the mistress screams at the athlete in a public place. Athletes are immediately disqualified if the judges receive evidence, or even a rumour, that the mistress paid for something herself.
Stage 2: Upon returning from first rotation, contestants must set about getting a divorce from their existing wife and moving in with the mistress as quickly as possible. Disqualification may occur in one or more of the following instances:
i) Judges receive evidence that mistress has been in the company of more than one athlete following or during Stage 1.
ii) Divorce results in loss of house or cash value exceeding $100,000 in favour of ex-wife.
iii) Mistress’s mother moves in along with mistress.
iv) Previously unknown husband of mistress turns up during the event.
Prediction: Great Britain to win gold by a mile, Australia a distant second with silver, and the USA bronze. 63 British athletes disqualified in Stage 2 alone.
Event 3. Paper Chase
Various teams compete to see who can process 10 standard forms the fastest.
Prediction: Immigration Department to narrowly break previous world record of 11 weeks and 3 days taking gold, HR department puts in a disappointing performance to win silver after 4 months, bronze medal goes unclaimed as event continues indefinitely.
Event 4. 2-Mile Taxi Steeplechase
Contestants start off at various places in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. On a given signal, they must race to the Pacific Plaza Hotel, pick up three drunken expats, and rush them to Chast’e nightclub as fast as possible. Event takes place on a Saturday night. Drivers are disqualified if they fail to meet all the following criteria:
i) Journey must be completed without driver wearing seatbelt.
ii) Vehicle must have a huge crack across the windscreen.
iii) Driver must smoke at least two cigarettes during event.
iv) Driver must make at least one phone call.
v) Driver must negotiate at least two enormous, water-filled potholes, and one junction where the traffic lights are knocked out.
A 10-second penalty is imposed on any driver whose vehicle has tread on the tyres. Drivers with vehicles with the steering wheel on the correct side are immediately disqualified.
Prediction: Russia to take gold thanks to superior local knowledge, Azerbaijan to take silver, Uzbekistan to take bronze having lost valuable time trying to scam passengers out of an extra 100 Roubles.
Event 5. Bear Baiting
Contestants head into the woods and river banks of Sakhalin Island and pick as many berries and catch as many fish as possible over a 2-day period. Athletes are encouraged to sneak quietly around whilst doing so, only making noise when running around a corner or over a ridge in a startling manner. Whoever returns with the most berries and fish is the winner.
Prediction: Large bear to take the athletes, berries, and fish.
Event 6. Drinking and Fighting
Contestants drink and fight. Points are awarded for drinking and fighting skills. Event to take place in nominated bars around Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, possibly at the same time as Event 4.
Prediction: Ireland to win gold, Russia to win silver, Great Britain to win bronze.
Event 7. Paper Generation
Contestants attempt to generate as much paper as possible in a three-day period. Bonus points are awarded for papers being notarised, legalised, translated, stamped, tied with string, duplicated, triplicated, and lost. Points are deducted for any piece of paper which contains useful information or serves a purpose.
Prediction: Russia to win gold, silver taken by international team of HSE representatives, bronze goes to the Netherlands.
Event 8. Procedure Untangling
Contestants are presented with a procedure selected at random from an international oil company and are required to:
i) Describe what it is for.
ii) Describe why it is useful.
iii) Describe the mentality of the person who wrote it without using the f-word.
iv) Describe how it is supposed to be implemented.
v) Describe a situation where it was used as intended.
Prediction: Event cancelled due to inability of any contestant to finish.
Event 9. Medical Pentathlon
Each contestant is lined up at the entrance to the HR department. Upon an email notification, athletes sprint to the ISOS clinic and compete in 5 events. Anyone found to be using prohibited substances is disqualified.
Stage 1: Urinate exactly 25ml into a cup as fast as possible. Points are deducted if urine is not taken from middle of stream.
Stage 2: Give as much blood as possible. Points are deducted if nurse cannot find a vein or blood contains more alcohol than haemoglobin.
Stage 3: Athletes compete to convince a doctor they are free from leprosy, bubonic plague, and other medieval diseases in as short a time as possible. Points are deducted if exposure of the genitals is necessary.
Stage 4: Jerk legs in upward direction when knees are whacked with a hammer. Points are awarded for upward velocity, graceful trajectory of feet, and highest point of arc.
Stage 5: Athletes expose themselves to an archaic x-ray machine for as long as they dare. Athletes are stripped of medals if later found to be sterile.
Prediction: USA to win gold, Great Britain and Australia disqualified.
Event 10. Baggage Handling
Contestants start in the baggage retrieval area at Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk international airport, and upon the arrival of a decrepit old truck piled high with suitcases which are hurled onto the carousel, athletes compete to locate their bag, drag it from the carousel, locate the tag and show it to the grumpy old troll blocking the door, and send it through the x-ray machine in the fastest time possible. The clock stops when bag and athlete spill through the door into the airport concourse. Extra points will be awarded to athletes who help keep the carousel clear of bags so that more may be hurled on. A lost baggage tag results in instant disqualification.
Prediction: Total chaos.