Tag Archives: 2020 Olympics

Say It Ain’t So!

thirtysixIt’s been a long time since I’ve written–a long time since I’ve found any inspiration to write about my beloved Olympics. Perhaps today’s entry isn’t due to any inspiration, but rather to take a moment and open my heart, laying out some of my feelings with which I’m conflicted.

A few months ago I was dismayed to learn that a record number of cities had withdrawn their bids to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.  Out of the original six cities which bid, only two remain:  Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan.  Lviv (Ukraine), Krakow (Poland), Oslo (Norway), and Stockholm (Sweden) have all withdrawn their bids.  Didn’t we just have an Olympics in China some eight years ago?  Kazakhstan?  Really?  Never have I seen the selection of an Olympic host city be whittled down by the candidate cities themselves, bailing one by one, leaving the least popular cities as the only two available choices.  It’s already difficult to be excited about a 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang.  I’m already frustrated in learning that new medal events will debut at these games:  mixed doubles curling, mass start long track speed skating, snowboard big air, and an Alpine skiing team event.  How much bigger of a circus can these games become?

Let’s see, then there was the report of dead fish filling the harbors near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (host of next year’s Summer Olympics), protests by Brazilians over slum evictions, the growing safety concerns for tourists arriving next year, and yes, the reminder that golf will debut in 2016 as a medal sport.  Yeah, it’s difficult to rally around the excitement which will soon begin building for these next Olympic Games.

Now I’ve learned that in the last few days one of 2012’s great heroes (and a favorite of mine from London) is under investigation for performance enhancing drugs.  Who can forget the gold medal finish by Mo Farah three years ago?  It brought tears to my eyes as he and two other compatriots won gold for the United Kingdom in track and field events.  Now there is suggestion that his win was not earned honestly.    Farah is one of many athletes who continue to fall under scrutiny for alleged cheating.  Some will be cleared of any wrongdoing; others will not, and their Olympic glory will be forever tarnished.  I thought we were past the decade of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs?  Apparently not.  Farah denies all accusations.   I hope his denials are truthful.  Say it ain’t so, Mo!

Sochi’s 2014 Olympics will probably go down in history as one of the most boring and lackluster games of the 21st Century.  The IOC continues to add sports left and right, diluting the value and uniqueness of an Olympic Games and its medals.  In addition, the cost of hosting is leading to potentially great hosts declining or withdrawing from the opportunity to host.  And athletes like Sanya Richards-Ross are demanding compensation in addition to their medals, claiming training costs are too expensive and that IOC members pocket too much money–money that should be given to athletes.

I’m not sure what direction this blog will take from here on.  Imagine how heartbreaking it is for this fanatic to feel so conflicted about the one thing she has loved and revered her entire life!

Say it ain’t so!

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio de Janeiro, 2018 PyeongChang Olympics

Are Wrestling and the Olympics Endangered?

The future of Olympic wrestling is uncertain.  Photo:  Jeff Cable Photograph 2012

The future of Olympic wrestling is uncertain. Photo: Jeff Cable Photograph 2012

With each passing  year, I seem to have less and less faith in the governing body of the Olympics.  Earlier today the IOC announced that while it would allow Modern Pentathlon to remain a part of the Olympic Games,  it had voted to recommend removing wrestling from the Olympics, beginning with the 2020 Olympics (location yet to be determined).

Say what?

I know.  I had to re-read those words as well.  Yes, the governing body of the Olympic movement has decided that wrestling, a sport which dates back to the Ancient Greek Games, does not belong in the Olympics.  The sport, which has been a part of  the modern-era Olympic Games since 1900, is now having to fight for reconsideration alongside baseball and softball (bidding jointly), karate, wushu, rollersports, wakeboarding, squash, and sports climbing.  When the IOC meets in September, it will vote to either save wrestling, or admit one of the other seven candidates.

Reuters quoted IOC Vice-President Thomas Bach as saying,  “The common understanding is the purpose of this was to modernize, to look into the future of the Olympics.” Listen, Mr. Bach, I’m all for modernizing where appropriate, such as zero tolerance for racism and gender discrimination, enhancing athletes’ safety, and encouraging sustainable Olympic Games.  What I don’t support–and neither should anyone–is disrespecting history and tradition–especially by showing preference to sports which lack tradition, true athleticism, and those that fail to embody all other qualities of a true sport.  What I also don’t condone is giving preference to sports which are “sexier” and encompass more “tricks” and daredevil elements, ignoring sports which require true athleticism–particularly one like wrestling, a sport that has been around for thousands of years.

The Modern-Day Olympic Games were born from a respect and admiration for tradition and the Ancient Games.  The Olympics have survived for over 100 years due to a fairly balanced mix of tradition and modernization.  Yet in recent years, IOC has been blinded by commercialism and greed rather than the ideals of the  Olympic movement.   I don’t care about ratings.  I don’t care about what sells commercials.  What I care about–what we all should care about– is preserving a sport that is a perfect blend of strength, patience, self-discipline, athleticism, and strategy (cauliflower ears and all).

It’s time to add wrestling to the endangered sports list.  (And frankly, I think Modern Pentathlon should probably remain there as well.)  But what worries me more is whether it’s time to add the Olympic Games to this list.  I fear the Olympics’ existence in their purest form is threatened by a large number of predators which include members of the IOC.  Will we act fast enough to save it from extinction?

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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(Olympic) Information, Please!

I’m gasping for breath like a swimmer after an 800-meter race.  These Summer Olympics have way more events and athletes than the Winter Games.  In addition, live action is happening six hours ahead of me.  I’m struggling to find the time to watch as much of the Olympics as I can, while also holding down a full-time job, keeping up with my blog, and still managing to get some sleep.  Dark circles are starting to form under my eyes.  The delivery/take-out people now recognize me.  My dog looks at me forlornly, wondering when life will go back to normal.  My lawn is starting to grow past the ankles.  The laundry pile is growing.  Tom and Katie could have gotten remarried and I wouldn’t know it.   I’m in a bubble, only occasionally coming up for air.  I’m exhausted.

Which brings me to Question 1 that I’ve been asked:

1.  How are you liking these Olympics? 
I’m also loving, loving, loving these Olympics.  The enjoyment is always worth the stress!

Kind of like the stress under which athletes are placed, all for the chance to be an Olympian.  Athletes like Shawn Johnson or Danell Leyvan.  Which brings me to Questions 2 and 3 that have led readers to my blog:

2.  Shawn Johnson’s boobs?
I don’t know anything about Shawn Johnson’s boobs, breasts, rumored plastic surgery, etc.   Shawn Johnson’s height is 4 feet, 9  inches.  I don’t know what she weighs.  One never should ask a woman how much she weighs.  Gymnasts are under a strict diet when they’re competitive.  After retirement, their bodies are allowed to develop more.  Breasts and hips can get bigger.  It happens.

3.  Does Danell Leyvan have a girlfriend?  Is Danell Leyvan married?
According to his Facebook status, US gymnast Danell Leyvan is interested in women and lists himself as being engaged.  Sorry, girls and boys.

4.  Where are the next Olympics going to be held?
The 2014 Winter Olympics will be in Sochi, Russia.
The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
2018 Winter Olympics:  Pyeongchang, South Korea.
2020 Olympics:   The three finalists are Madrid (Spain), Tokyo (Japan), and Istanbul (Turkey).  Tokyo is the front-runner.

NEW:  5.  Why are there cheerleaders at the volleyball matches?

The London Organizing Committee approved the use of cheerleaders during volleyball matches.  Viewers have probably seen them during both the indoor and outdoor matches.  Cheerleaders are part of the culture of beach volleyball, going hand in hand with the scantily clad women and loud music.  Since they’re present at beach volleyball tournaments, someone must have thought it would be good to include them in the indoor games too.  I find it ridiculous and shudder to think that the  British might be accepting this silly feature of American sports.

6.  Are Chinese swimmers taking steroids?
Read my next blog post to learn more about this!

Faster,  Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, Gymnastics, Olympic Fever

“All Sports For All People”

“All sports for all people. This is surely a phrase that people will consider foolishly utopian. That prospect troubles me not at all. I have pondered and studied it at length, and know that it is correct and possible.” – Pierre de Coubertin

Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern-Day Olympics, wrote these words more than 90 years ago.  And yet only this weekend did Saudi Arabia make the decision to allow women to compete in the Olympics for the first time.  (Don’t expect to see any athletes competing in a bathing suit or leotard, though.)  Qatar, excluded from consideration for 2020, announced it would submit another bid for the 2024 Olympics. Yet 2012 will be the first year that it also has fielded an Olympic team that includes women.

Writers like Mark McDonald have remarked that the IOC’s track record on equality issues is inconsistent.  The IOC never sanctioned countries like Saudi Arabia for its discrimination of women, but was none too hesitant to bar South Africa from the Games for 28 years because of Apartheid.  I’ll go even further:  Why did the IOC still allow an Olympics to be held in Nazi Germany after it was widely known that the country had established anti-Semitic policies?  Why did the IOC award the 2008 Games to China, a country which fails to respect human rights, including those of its own athletes?

What I find more egregious than the inconsistency is that the IOC has banned countries at all.  Let me explain.  It’s easy to applaud the sanction of countries for their unethical policies.  Initially I supported the banning of South Africa.  It disgusts me that people have been–and still are being–prevented from competing in sports because of gender, race, or creed.   But then I thought about the hundreds of South African athletes who never got the chance to compete in an Olympics because their country was banned.  How many men and women who were fast, strong, agile, and hard-working never got the chance?  How many innocent athletes, who didn’t support the actions of their government, were denied the chance to fulfill their dreams of competing in the Olympics?  How many gold, silver, or bronze medalists did we never see during these 28 years?  And yes, this same argument can be made for all of the black South African athletes, or the Saudi women who never were afforded a chance.

I don’t have a solution, but it isn’t fair to punish the innocent for the immoral and ignorant actions of their government.  It’s no different than those countries which decide to boycott Olympics.  They are decisions from which no one wins and everyone loses.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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London Preview: The Disparity in Table Tennis

Okay, let me be upfront:  I’m not a big fan of Olympic table tennis.  It’s not going to be at the top of my list to watch

Wang Ligin of China

during the Olympics.  Most sports I respect, even if they don’t interest me.   I acknowledge that table tennis requires an enormous amount of skill and agility.   The sport is also quite different from when it was first considered for Olympic inclusion in 1936, as it now requires more athleticism.   Nevertheless, I struggle with table tennis being an Olympic sport, and I’ll tell you why.

While table tennis is played on a recreational level worldwide, the number countries who have players good enough to be on the competitive level is quite small.  When I looked at the current world rankings for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), 20 of the top 30 men were from Asian countries, with the top five  all from China.  For women’s current rankings, 26 of the top 30 are from Asian countries, with China in the top four slots.  Of the 76 medals awarded in Olympic table tennis (since 1988), 41 have been awarded to China, and another 17 to South Korea.  Disparity in sports has become a hot topic in Olympic Sports.  In 2010 IOC President Jacques  Rogge stated that there was too much disparity in women’s hockey.  He said that North American countries dominate the sport and alluded to the possibility of it being removed from the Olympics.  Women’s softball has already been taken out of the Olympics for this reason, and other sports have faced difficulty in becoming Olympic sports for this very reason.   Is there really enough of a competitive field in table tennis to merit inclusion into the Olympics?  I don’t think so.

I’m going to make a bold and daring prediction regarding table tennis at the 2012 Olympics: China will win gold in men’s, women’s, and team table tennis, and it will also win the majority of all table tennis medals.

For a more in-depth preview of 2012 Olympic Table Tennis (including a schedule), visit the London 2012 website.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, Table Tennis

Pre-Olympics Buzz, Fanatic a Tad Overwhelmed

The Olympics are still about two months away (63 days, 7 hours, 07 minutes at the time I began to write this entry), but already the buzz and excitement are palpable–and not just in London.  Eurovision may be happening this weekend, but around the world people are getting super excited about the upcoming Summer Olympics in London, England. 

It makes me happy to know  that 116 years after the first Modern Games were held, there is still so much interest and excitement about the Games.  I’m also beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed.

So much has been happening over the past week:

  • The IOC and US Olympic Committee have come to an agreement on a new revenue-sharing deal, which means that the USOC will now support American cities which wish to bid on hosting rights for future Olympic Games. 
  • The IOC whittled down its list of 2020 Olympic Host Cities down to three:  Madrid, Istanbul, and Tokyo.   I’m less than thrilled with this final list.  I hope my opinion will change. 
  • On May 18 David Beckham helped mark the arrival of the Olympic torch from Greece to England.  Does this mean he won’t be one of the athletes to bring the torch in to the stadium during Opening Ceremony?
  • A few days later the torch relay made a wrong turn during its tour of England near Bristol, and its whereabouts were unknown for about 10 minutes.  The torch’s flame also went out when it passed through Great Torrington in Devon.    It’s good they’re getting all the kinks out now.  Let’s hope there won’t be a malfunction during the Opening Ceremony like that in Vancouver.

Now, this is just the tip of the Olympic-related iceberg for news and events.  How am I to stay “in the know” about everything when I have a full-time job–that isn’t related to the Olympics?    It’s not that I need to for the sake of this blog.  Rather, it’s something I want!

The heart is starting to beat a bit faster as we inch ever so closer to the 2012 Olympics. 

Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Filed under 2012 London Olympics, Olympic Fever

Toronto Bows Out of 2020 Games–Wake Up, IOC!

Pierre de Coubertin once said, “Holding an Olympic Games means evoking history.”  It also means shelling out a whole lot of money.

In these difficult and uncertain financial times, even the Olympic Games aren’t immune.  The city’s mayor announced Thursday that the Ontario capital would not submit a bid.  My heart sank as I read the news, faster than a .

And what was the reason for the decision?   “It’s the economy, stupid!”

The Globe & Mail reported that Mayor Robby Ford’s office released a statement saying that “….out of cost concerns, despite assurances the bid would have come at no cost to city taxpayers.” With Lisbon in the midst of a mammoth financial crisis, Toronto was my other personal choice.  The city’s location, size, and friendly inhabitants makes it an obvious choice to host the Summer Olympics, and why it’s never been chosen continues to baffle me.  I had really  hoped 2020 would be “Toronto’s time.”

The reason behind Mayor Ford’s decision brings up some interesting questions for debate.  Are the Olympics becoming too expensive to host?  Who should absorb the majority of the hosting costs?  Taxpayers?  The IOC?  Corporate sponsors?  Is it worth it to even host–especially if a city will either lose money or only break even?

Residents of Vancouver have been openly critical of the financial costs for hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Many Londoners have already criticized the costs of hosting next year’s Summer Games.  Many previous hosts have or are still facing mammoth post-Olympic debts, as debated by several New York Times guest columnists.

Last year GamesBids.com reported that the IOC was considering offering financial incentives to cities bidding for hosting rights.  The rumor began after only three cities submitted bids for the 2018 Winter Games.  And with only Rome, Madrid, Istanbul, and Tokyo having submitted formal bids for the 2020 Summer Games, surely the IOC has to be moving forward with this plan?  With the financial chaos and difficulties facing so many governments, bidding for the Olympics—as well as hosting–just isn’t realistically affordable.

According to GamesBids.com incentives would be offered to cities which are unsuccessful in bidding to  host the Games.  Possible incentives include “…. endowments to local universities to set up permanent athletic scholarships;  grants towards the construction of permanent amateur sports facilities and possibly financial assistance for national teams” that participate in future Olympics.  And here’s the real kicker:  To the city which won hosting rights, “….the IOC may be willing to bear 50% of the financial risk of organizing the Games – including cost overruns of any non-capital expenses.” And why hasn’t the IOC already been doing this?

As a fanatic of the Olympic Games, I believe that hosting the Olympics is a privilege, a grand opportunity.  Yet at what cost should a city and its country try for?  It’s time the IOC wakes up and gets with the times.  As much of a gift as hosting the Olympics is, cities cannot bear the sole financial responsibility.  It’s time the IOC steps up and takes on the role of grantor and awards more than just the designated host city.

Finally, here’s a question I leave with you.  What would Coubertin think of how financially absorbed and commercially driven the Olympics have become?  The Olympic Games are for the world and all nations must be admitted to them.

Swifter,  Higher, Stronger.

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