Just had a read through the above and would like to pitch in my two-penny worth:
Kat, who raised the thread, ended her posting with
"I don't think we should have the Olympics this year, mainly because of the above and also out of respect for the victims of Sept. 11th and their families and anyone who is involved in the current "war."
In ancient times the games were called to bring athletes together from the various states/kingdoms of Greece to compete even in time of war. Normally, but not always, a truce was declared for the period of the games to allow athletes to travel to the games, compete and return home safely. The athletes represented themselves, the common aim was the peaceful pursuit of human excellence, the trophy a simple laurel wreath.
The present games were re-instated to re-introduce those ideals to the modern world. The Berlin Olympics of 1936 were the first of the modern games to be politically manipulated - with extremely embarassing results to NAZI propaganda. With the advent of the Cold War the games became increasingly more politicised as the USA and USSR went tit-for-tat to prove which system was best (Communism v Capitalism). With the fall of the USSR and subsequent revelations relating to use of performance enhancing drugs, it was demonstrated to the world exactly how cynically,corrupt the Soviet communist regime was. With regard to capitalism, the one-up-manship involved in sucessive games meant that money had to come from sponsors - all of whom have their own agenda to follow - and as it's their money that's required they quite naturally want to call a few of the shots (If anybody doubts this remember the Football World Cup held in the USA, where the sponsors tried damn hard to get the game played in quarters, as opposed to halves, because it suited the timing of advertising slots on American television?). Enter professionalism at the insistance mainly of the sponsors. By and large, we've got the games in the form we deserve, and we cheered and took pride in the accomplishments all the way down the slope.
I've been saying since '64 that the only way I would ever support the Olympics is to build a permanent site on one of the Greek islands and once every four years invite the few thousand best athletes in the world to compete.
And make damned sure a national flag never flies over the island. Then it would be about the athletes.
David - I could not agree more - unfortunately, no commercial television network would carry it, so far fewer people would get to see the best in the world competing against each other, national broadcasting corporations might?
GUEST John Gray/Australia said:
I think it was the Montreal Games where our lazy bloody athletes failed to win a gold medal. The consequences were that our gov't panicked and lashed out with squillions of, yes, taxpayers money to construct the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Please correct me if I am wrong John, but the Australian Institute of Sport covers all sports doesn't it? Australia in terms of population is not large, Australia are current World Champions in Cricket (I can almost hear the chuckle from our trans-Atlantic cousins - but more people play cricket in the world than play baseball and cricket actually has a meaningful "world series" - The World Cup where more than a couple of countries are invited to compete), Rugby League and Rugby Union. Individually, Australian sportsmen and sportswomen consistently compete throughout the world at the highest levels. A great deal of that has got something to do with the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport all those years ago. And yes it does generate interest in Australia, not in the way you state maybe. Next year after my daughter (a swimmer) completes her exams in Britain, she will be going down to Australia to train for a year - guess where John? But more important guess why?
In 1984 my sister competed for Great Britain at the disabled olympics. Held at Rhode Island that year, she returned home with three gold medals for track events and one bronze for swimming. The President of the United States, Ronald Regan opened the games and in his opening speach, to the assembled disabled athletes of the world, he said something (paraphrased as I'm running from memory)) to this effect:
In one months time in Los Angeles I will be attending a similar ceremony to this, when the Official Olympic Games open. Looking round me today at all of you, and recognising the circumstances and paths that have brought you here, I know in my heart who the real Olympians are.
What that remark meant to all those present in the stadium was priceless. It would never have been made without there being an Olympic Movement.
Of course the Olympic Games are worth it - they always have been - in terms of inspiration, communication, development of good relations and better understanding. Anything that brings the youth of the world together with a common interest can only be worthwhile.