Tag Archives: olympics

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

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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.

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Filed under 2016 Rio de Janeiro, Uncategorized

Petanque Moving Closer to Its Target: Inclusion in the Olympics

France's Dylan Rocher (Source: Boulistenaute)

France’s Dylan Rocher (Source: Boulistenaute)

This post has been in the works for a while now.  For the last two years it’s been written and re-written in my mind, debating the pros and cons of pétanque becoming an Olympic sport.  The decade-plus lobbying efforts have progressed considerably, and pétanque players and fans alike are optimistic that the French game could make its Olympic debut in 2024, which coincidentally, Paris is bidding to host.  So I decided it’s time for me to put my thoughts in writing.

For anyone reading this who’s not familiar with pétanque, let me make something clear:  Pétanque is not the same as (Italian game) bocce.  It’s better.   I’m sorry, but one won’t ever find me excited about the possibilities of bocce becoming an Olympic event.

Because I do play pétanque, one might think that I’m automatically biased regarding pétanque in the Olympics.  Do I think pétanque should become an Olympic event?  The answer is surprising:  yes and no.

I have a bit of a problem with certain games or skills being in the Olympics if they don’t require a lot of athleticism.  Now, I’m not suggesting that pétanque requires no athleticism, but it requires much less compared to wrestling, swimming, gymnastics, or speed skating.  My interpretation of the Olympics is that it’s a series of multiple, athletic sporting events and does not include those which require less athleticism or physicality.  With that said, shooting, archery, and maybe even curling wouldn’t make my cut.    I know.  I’m going to get a lot of flack for these comments.

Adding pétanque to the Olympics also brings up another problem I have with new events continually being added the Olympics.  Already the Summer Olympics are teetering on the edge of becoming a circus, these additions to the Games diluting the uniqueness and respectability of being an Olympian, of becoming an Olympic medalist.  Does every game and sport need to be in the Olympics?  No!

And yet these two sentences I just wrote will be argued by those who cite the words of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern-day Olympics:  “All sports for all people.”  However, to use Coubertin’s lovely quote and argue for continued expansion opens the Olympic floodgates, allowing all games and sports into the Olympics.  Chess, backgammon, video games, poker, stair climbing, hang-gliding, hot air balloon racing….Do you see where this is going?

Let’s set aside my personal feelings about the dilution of the Olympics and examine the current IOC requirements for becoming an Olympic event.  All 33 criteria are in published form on the IOC website, titled the, “Evaluation Criteria for Sports and Disciplines.”  Rather than go through the entire exhaustive list, I’ll touch on the most important ones:

  • Youth appeal.   While youth development is a problem in some countries (including the United States), it appears to strong and growing in both African and Asian countries.  In addition, development remains a focus for many European nations.
  • Universality and popularity.  According to the International Federation of Pétanque, there are over 110 countries with established pétanque federations.  There is no question that the popularity of pétanque is widespread and well-established in the majority of these countries.
  • Good governance.   The sport has an international governing body and affiliated federations (mentioned above).

Based on this criteria, pétanque qualifies to become an Olympic event.  And while I might initially heave a heavy, exasperated sigh over yet another event being added to the Olympics, as a player of the game, there’s a small part of me which will be excited.  I’ll be excited for the game which I’ve quickly grown to love.

I have one small request:  For pétanque to be included in the Olympics, the semi-finals and finals need to be more than just one game.  The present structure has titles being won in final games which last as few as 30 or 60 minutes.  Let’s have a best of three matches to determine the victors.  After all, this would be for an Olympic medal!

Faster, Higher, Stronger.

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Filed under Olympic Fever

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

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(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.

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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

Shop for the Olympic Look!

Below is a list of countries with links to the designer or retailer websites of 2014 Olympic clothing:

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How a Fanatic (Usually) Prepares

This Friday–even amid wariness and being ill-prepared–I’ll be glued to the sofa, my eyes fixed on the television, and a smile will spread across my face.  I’ll say to myself, “They’re here again!  The Olympics are back!  Yessss!”

I’m usually much more prepared than I find myself this year.  Being an adult really stinks sometimes.

Here’s an excerpt from an earlier post in 2012 about how I usually prepare:

Just as the athletes train, the fanatic must also prepare.  Before the age of the Internet, I relied solely on print media and television for information.  USA Today’s Olympic bonus section was my bible.  Today I  have all the information at my fingertips.,  It can be overwhelming.  Tweets from the athletes, Facebook updates from sports’ governing bodies, blogs, news sites dedicated to sports.  It’s almost pure nirvana, but dizzying too.

When I was a teenager, I took a two-fold approach in my strategic planning.  I taped to the walls of our family den USA Today’s schedule of events, highlighting the ones that were of special interest.  Then I took the viewer’s guide from TV Guide and taped it to the wall, highlighting special events being televised, cross-referencing those with USA Today’s chart.

Now well into adulthood, I don’t have as much flexibility as I once did….It drives me crazy that while I am at work there is Olympic competition going on.  (Again, thank goodness for the Internet!)  Just as I did in 2012, I’ll be taking a few vacation days this month to watch the Olympics live.  My house is the one with the giant “Do Not Disturb” sign planted in the front yard.

Even with the Internet, I’m still printing a schedule and taping it up on my living room wall.  As I get dressed for work, the TV will be on either NBC’s “Today Show,” or ESPN.  Better yet, I might see if I can get a stream of CTV Sports on the laptop.  Then I’ll scurry home after work to get ready for the evening coverage — unless it’s one of the days I’m staying home to watch the Olympics!

One new tradition:  Now that I’m married, my husband and I always enjoy an Olympic-themed meal. In 2006 it was lasagna and tiramisu (Torino, Italy).  In 2008 it we ordered Chinese (Beijing).  In 2010 it was poutine and fries.  2012, Beef & Alt Hot Pot with peas or carrots, and Schooldays Treacle for dessert.  This year?  Hard to say since we’re trying to go gluten-free.  Maybe meat and cabbage?

I’m sort of ready–Are you?  Let the Games begin!

Faster, Higher, Stronger

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Filed under 2014 Sochi Olympics

Is Sochi a ‘Hot Mess?’

hot mess:  1.  An item that is dizzyingly chaotic in appearance; a situation or incidence that is extraordinarily bad.

BolshoiUno

Sochi’s Bolshoi Ice Dome. Does this mean we’re in store for wild and unpredictable competition there?

Four days from now the 2014 Winter Olympics will begin, and there’s a huge lack of preparation for several.  Sochi is still scrambling to finish construction on some of its venues.  There are continued security threats, with many athletes’ family members choosing to stay home rather than risk their safety in Russia.  Some athletes are determined to protest Russia’s anti-gay legislation during the opening ceremony.   And I haven’t even mentioned the uproar Sochi’s twin toilets have caused.

This time four years ago I was stoked, prepped, ready for the games to begin.  So was the City of Vancouver.  And just two years ago, the excitement and preparation for London’s Summer Olympics was almost indescribable. Move forward to 2014 and I am under-prepared, tired, and wary.  My day job has left me little or no time to prepare, and the news coming from Sochi over the past year has made me frustrated and disappointed.   It seems that Sochi is a hot mess, and for now so am I.  We are both dizzyingly chaotic as we approach the eve of the XXII Olympiad.

Venue design is usually a topic that fills me with awe and excitement.  Thus far Sochi’s venue architecture leaves me bored, with one exception.  The Bolshoi Ice Dome impresses until it’s lit up at night and suddenly resembles a Uno card.  Where Vancouver and London had sustainability measures in place for their venues, the Russian government has yet to confirm plans for how it will recycle or maintain the upkeep of all the new construction in Sochi.

I am keeping a stiff upper lip and hoping for the best.  This is the greatest winter sporting event in the world!  I don’t want anyone or anything (toilets included) to dampen my spirits.  I’m crossing all fingers that these Olympics will have the grace and awe of  an Anna Pavlova, the smartness of a Kasparov, and the sparkle of a Fabergé egg.  It is what fans and athletes yearn for, hope for, and most of importantly, deserve.

Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

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