Any activity involving physical exertion like sport is important for all of us on this planet. We need to do exercise to stay fit and healthy. It is necessary because that is how our bodies have evolved over millions of years. Even though most of us in the West no longer have to hunt and live in caves, we still need that exercise to stay in shape. Too little movement and too many carbohydrates (sugar, flour, fats, etc) cause obesity and that causes plenty of early deaths. But let’s not get too depressed here, just yet!
Most of us understand sport to mean anything from a quick run or a game of golf, tennis, football, basket ball, etc.. Most of us go to the gym, go for long walks, skiing, jogging or hiking just for the fun of being outdoors and doing something healthy. We seldom do it to just to compete and prefer to do it because it is a great hobby or pleasant pastime. We think of ourselves positively afterwards, even if we do no more than a few hours each week.
We not only enjoy doing sports, most of us also enjoy watching amateurs and professionals competing against one another. So sport as a pastime or as a competitive event is an important activity for the whole world that starts at school and most of us keep on doing it for the rest of our lives.
Up until the 1980s, global sport was more local and in the hands of amateurs and a few canny wealthy investors. This was the time that Juan Samaranch became president of the International Olympic Committee, the IOC. One achievement of Samaranch was the financial rescue of the IOC with big television and sponsorship deals. He also wanted the best athletes to compete in the Olympics, which led to the gradual acceptance of professional athletes.
From that point in time there was no going back. Now the Olympic Games are measured in a few short months and eat up billions of Euros with sponsorship contracts from the world’s largest companies, expensive television deals, and demands that winning countries plan and develop sports arenas and other facilities where the final costs have been between €10 billion and €40 billion. The money has not only been pouring into the Olympics – the virus has spread to every sport and their “charitable federations” and business bodies like tennis, football, ice hockey, cricket, cycling, basket ball, etc.
The results are far from impressive – all the points below have been well documented over the years and can be seen by using a quick Google search :
- Corruption is rife within the highest levels of the IOC as countries seek to win host contracts.
- Corruption is rife within the highest levels of other international sports federations.
- Corruption is involved at the national level in construction contracts of host cities.
- Corruption is involved at the personal level as a few individual athletes and national sports associations have been systematically using drugs to enhance performance.
- A few Olympic venues have been left unused and grow weeds after the event – money has been wasted on a grand scale.
- Human rights and democracy are conveniently forgotten when cities in places like China and Russia and other are chosen as official Olympic venues.
- The games have been an orgy of climate change emissions, as competitors, huge groups of spectators, and the world’s leaders and other “VIPs” arrive in their thousands of planes.
The result is a waterfall of consequences that are crowded out by the news of how many gold medals we won, or did not win:
- Taxpayers in the host countries are left to carry the costs of the events for decades.
- Hundreds of conscientious olympic athletes end up receiving weak support for the years of training and competing, or are left to fend for themselves without health insurance and pension benefits, while a few global stars earn millions from lucrative sponsorship contracts.
- Our public broadcasting services are also paying out huge sums for TV deals to cover the games, and of course we also cover the costs of our leaders to attend these events in far flung places.
- An elite bunch of national and international Olympic “Bosses & Friends” receive lots of generous benefits from these events… the amounts are in millions and often not mentioned in the public domain.
We have thus been witnessing years of growing excesses related to sport that have turned into a pandemic of monstrous proportions that can conveniently be called the Olympic Virus.
Few people know or understand what really happens beyond the extravaganza that we see on TV during the summer where very fit, mostly young, people compete against each other to win a few medals.
We do not need this huge money-making machine to dominate our TV screens and sports activities.
Now is the time to pull back from this business of conglomerates and professional suit-clad executives and get back to modest national sport contests where there is no reason to take drugs, no reason to ask sugar-daddy corporate sponsors to pay disgustingly huge fees to advertise their hamburgers, sugary drinks and expensive watches.
In the end it boils down to how taxpayers’ money is used to build sports arenas to host the games with billions of Euros when we really need more care homes for the elderly, healthcare centres, hospitals, schools and universities. It is beyond belief that Japan is being forced to pay another €3 billion to delay the games for this summer when the Covid pandemic has trashed our economies and there is still not reason to believe that the pandemic will be over by then!
How can our politicians and the Bosses at the IOC be so crass in their thinking?
Sport is too important to be left to the IOC because we can see that the Olympics is not just a farce but a disaster that needs to be reigned in fast.
To replace it we need modest national sports events that we can watch on TV and on the internet. Foreign sportsmen and women would be free to attend so long as they paid their own way. World records could be kept so long as they were honestly achieved without drugs.
Small and large countries would be free to support their own athletes from birth to the grave with or without corporate sponsorship, and certainly without all this nonsense of Olympic committees filled with politicians and other very (un)-important people.
All professional sports should be excluded from these events because that is a business and that does not need taxpayers money.
… and to support the very best amateur athletes, a modest scholarship and pension scheme could be put in place to support their efforts for a limited time would be welcome. It is good to have sport personalities who inspire the rest of us to perform better!