Artemis Fowl II steps in to help Russia rig one of the most sacred sports competitions in the world.
(The events in the 2002 Winter Olympics chronicled here really did happen. The incident led to a corruption investigation by the International Olympic Committee and eventually resulted in an upgrade of the Canadian Olympic medal from silver to gold. Whether a certain young criminal mastermind actually orchestrated the scandal is a different story entirely…)
Butler set the other glove down on the granite counter. It was bitterly cold outside; hardly a soul dared to venture out when prevailing weather conditions deteriorated this much. The current date was February 12, 2002, and the 7 foot tall Eurasian had just completed his usual security check of the Fowl family’s estate, Fowl Manor.
Normally, the youngest of this family, Artemis Fowl the Second, sat at the temporarily-vacant security desk while Butler completed the sweep, making sure that no areas of the manor were left unattended in the meantime. But today, for a reason Butler could not possibly hope to fathom, the criminal mastermind sat in the Victorian winged arm-chair, watching CBC coverage of the Olympic Winter Games.
Butler sighed, emptying his lungs of frozen air. “I was under the impression that you didn’t fancy sports.”
Artemis did not even look over his shoulder. “I assume the check went well, Butler, considering that you are still here to carry out a conversation. And yes, under normal circumstances, you would be correct; competitive games do not generally concern me or any of my operations.”
“With all due respect, sir, my inquiry remains unexplained.”
This response caused Artemis’ head to swivel, an obvious sign that Butler’s words had startled him. “One might say that I have achieved a level of bribery and extortion so subtle that it can extend all the way into an arena that should morally be untouchable.” He turned back toward the television, though Butler noticed a hint of a glimmer in the boy’s eyes before the move. “This project stands to produce such an unusual return that it has managed to infiltrate the one as of yet impervious competitive institution of the world – the Olympic Winter Games.”
Butler stared at the back of the boy’s head, stunned at the words he was hearing. Had his charge really devised such a clever and far-reaching project that its repercussions included rigging the most holy of competitions: the Olympics themselves? The very thought seemed repugnant to Butler. Was nothing sacred in his master’s eyes anymore? He knew that Artemis’ thoughts primarily focused on money, but some things needed to be left alone, for everyone’s sake.
Of course, the manservant would not directly reproach the boy’s actions; part of the eons-old contract between the Butler and the Fowl family was that the servant would do the master’s bidding without exception, regardless of the legality, morality, or danger of the request.
“If I may ask, Artemis: what on Earth could be done in order to infiltrate an operation of that high a moral status?”
“The entire setup of the games makes the system surprisingly easy to penetrate. The judges of the competitions are numerous, all hailing from different countries; political tensions between these nations can have quite a sway over people, not to mention personal gain or national favor.”
Over his shoulder, two Russian figure skaters appeared on the television screen. Indistinct voices could be heard, discussing the marks for the pair’s performance on the ice.
“As you may or may not know, Russia – and the Soviet Union – has held dominance over the pairs’ figure skating competition in the Olympic Winter Games since 1960. Usually, winning such a competition would prove simple for them. But this year, many experts have conceded that the Pairs team from Canada might present the Russians with a formidable challenge.”
“How did you find such information, if sports are not something with which you normally occupy yourself?”
“Trust me, Butler, when I say that this issue has repercussions beyond the world of peaceful competition. For that reason, the Figure Skating Federation of Russia has come under pressure to ensure that their team will win. This is where I step in to… help them out in their plight.”
A blue box appeared at the bottom of the television screen, a sign that the scores for the figure skaters were about to be revealed. Artemis turned away from the manservant and focused on the screen accordingly. Along the bottom row of the box, seven 5.9s appeared in succession. Butler did not know the significance of these values, but their presentation caused quite a stirring among the audience in attendance, and a chorus of boos sounded through the television’s speakers.
Meanwhile, a cold smile stretched across Artemis’ visage. “Just as planned. This will turn out very nicely.”
Butler turned back to his master. “Tell me: what did you do when you offered to help the Russians?”
One pale finger pointed at an entry along the bottom row of the box. “You see that mark right there? A 5.9 was awarded to the group by the French judge. France came to the aid of Russia and offered to give their Pairs team an artificially high score. In return, the Russians promised to show favor to the French team during the Ice Dance, a competition to which the Russians have not been nearly as close.”
Butler’s eyes narrowed. “And was this deal made simply in good faith, or was it… sealed?”
Artemis turned to face the bodyguard again. “Come now, Butler. Would I have been involved had there been no monetary gain?”
The words stunned Butler into silence as the largely-American crowd on the television booed the Russian pair out of the arena.