Who is on top of the gold medal table at the Tokyo Olympics? China? The United States?
According to former European Parliament Brexit chief Guy Verhofstadt, it is, in fact, the European Union that is triumphing at the games.
While you have to go down to seventh place in the Olympics leaderboard to find an EU country (Germany), Verhofstadt appears to have his own scoreboard:
‘Fun fact,’ he wrote on Twitter: ‘EU combined has more gold medals than US or China’.
Verhofstadt went on to say that he would ‘love to see the EU flag next to the national on athletes’ clothes’.
Cockburn wonders whether this is all just a ploy to ensure that Verhofstadt’s Belgium — which has so far won just a single gold at the Games — stands a chance of beating Great Britain, which has 16.
Verhofstadt seems wistful about the prospect of EU pride. The implication, of course, is that EU nations would be better poised to tackle the rest of the world if they competed as one united body.
Cockburn can’t help wonder if, once again, his logic is flawed. A united EU team would surely bear the hallmarks of other EU bodies: under-allocation of resources to minor nations, internal squabbling about Franco-Germanic dominance, culture-war clashes in the Olympic Village, not to mention the excruciating bureaucracy that would go into the heats.
The baton pass in the EU relay team would probably go as smoothly as their vaccine rollout…
This article was originally published on The Spectator’s UK website.