“Bigger, faster, stronger” tarnished by Zika, doping, corruption

The Olympic games (summer and winter) have been a high point in my sporting interests for some 50 years. But this year my usual enthusiasm is heavily subdued and my viewing will be accompanied by a very high level of cynicism. The dominating themes are Zika, doping and corruption and could completely overshadow any feats of speed or strength or skill.

Tomorrow is the official opening of the Rio Olympics. The torch arrived yesterday accompanied by demonstrations against the high cost of the games and against the rampant political corruption in Brazil. The military broke up the peaceful demonstrations with an exercise of – apparently – excessive violence. No doubt they are all on edge. Some preliminary women’s football matches were played in empty stadiums (and why on earth is football an Olympic sport?).

Some other peripheral sports, which should not be part of the Olympics (golf, tennis), have seen many of their stars pull out citing a variety of injuries and other engagements. But they are all dead scared of the Zika virus and can’t jeopardise their normal earnings. In any case there is little glory or credit in an Olympic medal for golf or tennis.

The closed shop that is the IOC, to my perception, is more corrupt than FIFA ever was. Every venue for the last 50 years has been “bought”. Corruption is endemic in the administration and in many of the sports. The boxing and wrestling and weightlifting tournaments are so “fixed” that the results are meaningless. The gymnastics championships are beset first by subjective judging and – always it seems – by politically influenced judging. Today the IOC announced that another batch of strange sports would be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Softball and skateboarding among others. Skateboarding? No doubt many thousands, if not millions, has changed hands.

It is swimming and track and field which – for me – are the essence of the Olympics. I would be quite happy to see diving and water-polo be dropped. Rowing and canoeing and sailing are probably valid disciplines but the equestrian sports are not. Trampoline gymnastics and synchronised swimming and beach volleyball are other ridiculous disciplines which have no place in the Olympics.

The sports at the Rio Olympics are:

Rio Olympic sports

Rio Olympic sports

I hope there are no catastrophes and I wish the Brazilians well. Brazil now really needs a successful games to feel good about.

No doubt I will spend many hours watching on Television. But I will not be as engaged and enthusiastic as I usually am.


 

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