Olympics: Is it time to stop the Games?

Ask supporters and you’ll get some version of the following: the Olympics promote international peace and understanding by providing a temporary truce for the purpose of athletic competition.

A brilliant, lofty, maybe even heroic goal, don’t you think?

But is the philosophy working? Is the world better off with the Olympics? Or without them?

Let’s talk about it…

It’s time to end the Olympics.

truces don’t happen when there is a boycott

  • in 1954 Melbourne was boycotted by seven countries (Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon; Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland; and China–for three different international conflicts)
  • in 1972 Munich uninvited Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
  • in 1976 Montreal was boycotted by African nations protesting apartheid
  • in 1980 Moscow was boycotted by the United States and other Western countries protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
  • in 1984 Los Angeles was boycotted by communist countries retaliating for the 1980 boycott

truces don’t happen when there is no athletic fairness

state-sponsored doping

  • (former) East Germany took home 40 gold medals from the 1976 Montreal Games, only to have been found injected state-sponsored athletes with steroids, many without their knowledge, some of whom were young girls who suffered from the male hormones–all in the name of gaining national prestige
  • and, of course, now there’s Russia, having medals stripped even as we enter the 2017 Games.

bribing of judges, bribing of IOC committee members, bribing of local officials in hosting countries

  • the list is so vast, and spans so many decades, maybe a separate article is needed here?

doping by individual athletes

  • the IOC banned performance-enhancing drugs starting in 1967 but nearly every country has had participants found positive

peace doesn’t happen when terrorists use the event to spread fear

  • Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes at Munich in 1972
  • ultra-rightist Eric Rudolph, who placed a deadly bomb at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta
  • North Korean spies blew up an airline just ahead of the 1988 Games in South Korea, killing 115 people, in hopes of scaring people away from the event

The Olympics should never end.

Pierre de Coubertin is a French educator and historian but most frequently remembered as the founder of the modern Olympics who once said, “The important thing at the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part; for the essential thing in life is not to conquer but to struggle well.”

What happens when politics and bribery and cheating and boycotts fade from the news, if only for a couple of weeks?

they provide a venue to join together peacefully

In Sydney, 2000, North and South Korea marched together for the first time in the opening ceremony. They chose not to carry national flags, and instead the North and South Korean teams wore identical uniforms, joined hands, and waved a unification flag with a blue map of Korea.

they give platforms for important protests

Black U.S. track and field athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith give the Black Power salute at the Mexico City Summer Games in 1968, bringing international attention to the movement.

and great sporting moments

U.S. Women’s Soccer Team score the gold-medal winning goal against Brazil in overtime in the 2004 Athens Games

Jesse Owens wins multiple gold medals in Berlin, in 1936, with Adolph Hitler watching. Hitler wanted to use the Olympics to show that the Aryan race was superior. Jesse gave him a dose of reality.

The 1992 Dream Team (including Jordan, Ewing, and Barkley) may be the greatest team ever assembled in any sport.


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