British babus queueing up to watch beach volleyball
Played in minimal uniforms, beach volleyball is always going to attract prurient admirers: last summer's test matches were reported to have proved particularly popular with corporate groups.india Updated: Jan 27, 2012 00:54 IST
What first attracted you to the sport in which women in tiny bikinis leap about in the sand, Mr President?
Such was the question prompted by George Bush's visit to the Beijing Olympics' beach volleyball venue back in 2008, when, in a golden photo opportunity, American player Misty May-Treanor appeared to bend over and ask the president to smack her barely clothed behind (Bush demurely opted for her lower back).
On Tuesday, former Labour sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe posed a similar question at a Culture, Media and Sport select committee meeting, asking whether it was "an oddity" that beach volleyball appears to be one of the most popular Olympic sports for MPs: government departments have bought 410 tickets for beach volleyball matches at this summer's games, compared with 246 for athletics.
A perfectly plausible excuse was proffered - that the popularity of beach volleyball, which only became an Olympic sport in 1996, is down to the fact that many of the matches will take place at the weekend, when MPs are most likely to be free.
But it's worth pointing out that the beach volleyball matches will be held on Horse Guards Parade in central London, affording civil servants a ringside seat - as David Cameron joked last summer, when matches were played there in a temporary test venue.
"I'm not going to cut down the trees at No 10 so I can get a better view," he said, "though there is an enormous temptation."
Played in minimal uniforms, beach volleyball is always going to attract prurient admirers: last summer's test matches were reported to have proved particularly popular with corporate groups.
So when the Olympic matches kick off on July 28, will the 15,000-seater venue just be filled with goggle-eyed MPs and off-duty businessmen?