Tag Archives: Olympic games

Rio 2016: An Olympics I Cannot, Will Not Support

Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing a post like this.  The girl who grew up wanting more than anything to become an

coubertin

Olympian, who instead became the biggest fan of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, is experiencing heartache of epic proportion. It’s over.  

At least for now it’s over.  I won’t be so bold as to say that the Olympics and I are “consciously uncoupling,” but I have made the decision to step away.  We’re on a break.  And I’ve got to do some soul searching over the coming months to decide what happens next.  

I’ve been watching the Olympics for as long as I can remember, watching them religiously since I was 10.  I’ve never failed to watch an opening ceremony.  I’ve never missed the key events I wanted to watch.  When I began this blog six years ago, I was able to write about all the feelings the Olympics bring out in me.  I was able to share my excitement with others through my writing, on the radio, and in social media.  It made me love the games even more than I thought I could.  Until now.  

On a personal level, 2016 has been a really tough year.  Surely the Olympics–the one thing I’ve relied on to escape the pain of real life–wouldn’t let me down, too?  It did.  In fact, the IOC had been letting me down for awhile, but I was too naive or stubborn to realize it.

I really wanted to support an  Olympics in South America.  I wanted to see the Olympics expand to other continents.  I wanted the 2016 Olympics to help energize the Brazilian economy.  I was crossing my fingers for a Rio Games that would be recognized for environmental sustainability, an Olympics as green as the Brazilian flag.  Nope.  Not gonna happen.

The reasons behind my painful decision stem from the level of corruption within the IOC which continues to grow.  Cities are being awarded Olympics in exchange for money and other favors.  After the deals are done and the Olympics are awarded, the bulldozers come in, destroying people’s homes, leaving innocent residents homeless.  Those who protest are beaten, imprisoned, or silenced in other ways.  It happened in Beijing.  In Sochi.  And it happened again in Rio.

There is raw sewage flowing directly into the water where athletes will be competing and where visitors will be swimming.  Trash, dead animals, and other large items are also floating around in the waters surrounding Rio de Janeiro, which directly impact the safety and performance of athletes competing in the waters.  (Did I mention the bay in which swimmers will be competing contains raw sewage?)

There’s also this tiny thing called the Zika Virus.  While the source of Zika is a mosquito, the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.  It’s the Olympics.  There’s a lot of sex at the Olympics.

Maybe it’s a delayed part of growing up.  Maybe this year’s US Presidential campaign awoke a voice in me, and I cannot in good conscience condone the atrocities occurring in the name of the Olympic Movement.

I still don’t believe Olympic athletes should be paid.  Yet I also disagree that they should be banned from certain privileges while the IOC rakes in billions of dollars.  The IOC isn’t just receiving these gifts directly to its non-profit organization, but individual members of this governing body are pocketing millions of dollars and receiving other favors, profiting off of the trials and tribulations of the Olympic athletes.

This is not the Olympics I grew up watching.  Or, maybe it was, but the level of greed, corruption, and harm inflicted on the innocent has increased.   Because of this, I can no longer feel good about watching the Olympics.  It certainly isn’t the Olympics founded by Coubertin.  

To any doubters or naysayers, I encourage you to watch the most recent episode of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.”  Some of what Gumbel and his fellow journalists reported I knew about, but not all of it.  My eyes are now fully open.  I am heartbroken.

Some of you might say, “But in a world full of so much despair, don’t we need the Olympics?  Don’t we need them to give us hope?  Why such negativity?”  Yes, with the current world in which we live, we need something every few years to distract us, dazzle us, and offer an escape.  But we need the Olympics of old.  Otherwise, by watching and supporting the Olympics Games of the 21st Century, we are only aggrandizing the amount of suffering and despair in this world.

The one thing I thought I could count on has failed me.  It  has truly and fully succumbed to the powers of human greed and evil.  My heart is heavy.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Uncategorized

The Olympic Games: Everyone Wants to Compete, No One Wants to Host

460x

(Photo: Associated Press/Charles Krupa)

Just when it seemed promising that Americans could enjoy an Olympics not being aired at 2:00 in the morning, such chances were dashed today–dashed when Boston mayor Marty Walsh announced that he would not “commit to putting the taxpayers at risk” to cover the expensive costs of bidding for and hosting the 2024 Olympic Games.  Walsh’s press conference occurred a few hours before sources inside the US Olympic Committee confirmed that a Boston 2024 is no longer likely, and therefore there’s little optimism that a post-2016 Olympics will be held in the Americas any time soon.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Olympic Fever

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.

1 Comment

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

From Russia With Love: Opening Ceremony & Day One Recap

“Yes, love, ….I knew that feeling of love which is the essence of the soul, for which no object is needed. And I know that blissful feeling now too. To love one’s neighbours; to love one’s enemies. To love everything….” ― Leo TolstoyWar and Peace

Friday night’s theme was love: romantic love, the love of sport, patriotism, and tradition.  With the first portion of the 2014 opening ceremony centered around a girl named Lubov (which is Russian for love), the program then continued with a  brief and very selective history of Russia depicted through animation and theatrical performances.  It was new IOC president Thomas Bach who stole the show.  His first speech at an Olympic Games was the first one of its kind that I can remember.  Never do I recall an IOC President speaking from the heart and making such bold statements.  It gives me hope for the IOC.  Perhaps I am naive.

It was a safe program; and while it wasn’t as visually appealing as Vancouver’s, it edges out Danny Boyle’s disaster of London two years ago.  But I was puzzled by the persons chose to carry the cauldron into the stadium.  Were the Protopopovs slighted because they defected from the former Soviet Union?  Where was Ekaterina Gordeeva?  I was, however, very pleased to see that Irina Rodnina was chosen to light the cauldron with hockey star Vladislav Tretiak.

Day one of the Olympics is usually jam-packed with events.  But after rising at 5:00 AM to watch live competition, I was done by the middle of the afternoon.  I don’t remember the first day’s schedule of events being so sparse.  So what was yesterday’s highlight for me?  Sven Kramer and team Netherlands sweeping the men’s 5,000 meters in speed skating.  I love watching the Dutch speed skaters.  They are a joy to watch.

Tomorrow will be a jam-packed day of Olympics to watch.  I’m staying in my PJ’s and ordering take-out.  Sochi is my Sunday sanctuary!

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

1 Comment

Filed under 2014 Sochi Olympics

‘Tragedy and Triumph’

candleThis is just not the way it’s supposed to be.

Yesterday’s forecast for Boston was a perfect sunny day for its famous marathon.  Thousands of runners would cover 26.2 miles through the historic city before crossing the finish line, cheered on by their supporters.  Sure, to place in the top three is truly a feat.  But to actually cross the finish line, whether first or last, is the true accomplishment in a marathon.   For thousands, it is a race unfinished.  The chaos from yesterday’s bombings along the finish line of Boston’s marathon interrupted the remainder of the race.  In just a few seconds, runners suddenly were more concerned with their own safety and aiding others than focusing on their stride, endurance, and split time.

Some have placed this event as the third domestic tragedy in a year following those in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.  Others have placed it as the third of three tragic sporting events (the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics and the bombing from the 1996 Olympics being the other two).

I remember the 1996 bombing in Atlanta.  I remember the raw emotions I felt.  For the first time, I realized that not even the Olympic Games were immune to the violence and hatred that plagues our world.  To see a sporting event that holds athleticism, fellowship, and peace at its core marred by hate-fueled violence was disturbing.  Some of my innocence was lost.  I think it was lost for many.

More innocence was lost on September 11, 2001;  on July 21, 2005;  and our sense of security and remaining naiveté continues to erode with each additional, senseless tragedy.  The countless shootings in the United States resulted from the mentally ill having easy access to extremely deadly firearms.  The tragedies of Munich, Atlanta, and now Boston were not the result of lunacy.  They were pre-planned, calculated acts of terror, fueled by a level of hatred that is difficult to comprehend.   In fact, it is difficult to comprehend what kind of human being can purposefully plan an attack that sabotages innocent civilians gathered together for a festive occasion.

As a sports fan, as a compassionate human being, I am angry.  Stupefied.  Saddened.  Along with thousands I also ask the same question:  Why?

Reflecting on yesterday’s tragedy, I find myself mulling over a quote from Olympian Mark Spitz.  Spitz, who won seven gold medals at the 1972 Games, was later quoted as saying, “The memories of the Munich games for me are of triumph and tragedy.”  So too will the 2013 Boston Marathon be for many of its runners and spectators.  For many, there is tragedy in the loss of life and of life-threatening injuries.  While I grieve for those killed and pray for the healing of those injured, I also recognize the tragedy of more innocence lost and an eroding sense of security.

Just as in 1972 and 1996, there is also triumph.  Webster’s Dictionary defines triumph as “the joy or exultation of victory or success,” “a victory or conquest by or as if by military force,” or “a notable success.”  Although the race was not finished by all, there were two runners who crossed the finish line with the best time, and their successes are worth noting:  Men’s winner Lelisa Desisa Benti of Ethiopia and women’s winner Rita Jeptoo of Kenya.   They were joyful and victorious, having conquered the obstacles of a marathon.

I firmly believe that we can never defeat hatred or fanaticism.  As we put one fire out, another two begin from its ashes, and the vicious cycle continues.  In the most literal sense, we cannot eradicate all evil.  Yet we can refuse to let it squash our spirit, our love of sport, our compassion for human life.  Just like the athlete who falls down and gets back up again, so must we.  Again and Again.

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

3 Comments

Filed under Athletics/Track & Field, Olympic Fever

A Cure for Post-Olympic Blues

Today I’m feeling blue.  I’ve got Post-Olympicitis.  My symptoms are restlessness, sadness, heavy sighing, fatigue, and lack of motivation to carry out normal activities.

Singing “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” isn’t helping.  But thankfully there are wonderful folks at BBC, including Newsday presenter Julian Keane who was incredibly thoughtful to share a video with me via Twitter.  It not only reminds us of the phenomenal job done by British athletes, but a reminder to also keep looking forward. Yes, ever forward!

Before I share the video, I want to take a moment to extend my gratitude to BBC for the support and kindness it showed this blog over the past two weeks.  I write this blog because I love the Olympics, and because it’s a means for sharing my  passion with others.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think someone would want to  hear my thoughts via mainstream media, much less BBC, the most highly regarded agency in broadcasting!  The producers and presenters for both BBC Newsday and BBC World  Have Your Say couldn’t have been nicer or more gracious; and for little ole me who was shaking with nerves about being on live radio, their gestures were more appreciated than they’ll ever know.

Now, enjoy this video which features some of Great Britain’s Olympians lip-syncing to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

2 Comments

Filed under 2012 London Olympics

But Wait! The Drama of London Isn’t Quite Over!

The cauldron’s been extinguished.  Athletes have packed up and departed the athlete village.  Some of the venues are being dismantled.   Yet the drama of the Olympics continues!

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under 2012 London Olympics, Athletics/Track & Field