|Volume 92, Issue 61
Friday, January 15, 1999
The end of Olympic innocence
Bribery charges. Drug scandals. Utter corruption.
It is really hard these days to find the right two words to describe the Olympic Games. Forget thoughts of "gold medals" or terms like "national pride," as there simply are no positive words to represent what was once the pinnacle of international competition. The International Olympic Committee has hit rock bottom and taken the hopes and dreams of thousands of athletes down with it.
There is no question the organization is at the edge of corporate suicide. The fact that no one can save it is the worst thought. Unlike a national corporation, the IOC is not bound by any sovereign rules, but rather by unenforceable international laws. Simply put, there is no one with the power to stop IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch from destroying one of the greatest athletic events in the world.
The current ticking time bomb in Salt Lake City will likely be the last piece to topple the Jenga puzzle. The fact someone bought the right to host the winter Olympics Games for 2002 destroys any innocence the event still held. And innocence is what the Olympics is all about. Unlike professional sports, it is not about million dollar contracts and shoe endorsements. Even athletes like Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky have made an appearance or two not for a cash incentive, but for the pride of representing their country.
For some, however, the Olympics is the business world's greatest prize. It places the host city at the centre of the world's attention for two weeks. It brings in money for new facilities and tens of thousands of spectators from all corners of the globe.
Another two syllables which represent the Games comes to mind "cha ching." The fact this thinking is wrong in every sense of the word does not effect them. For the rest of the world, we stand in horror.
The sad fact of the matter is this is probably not the first time this has happened and it won't be the last unless the IOC takes the issue seriously.
Instead, Samaranch and the rest of his corrupt little buddies have danced around the core issues with small token offers to the masses. David Johnson, the former Salt Lake executive vice-president, was forced to resign. Pirjo Haeggman from Finland and Agustin Arroyo of Ecuador were also offered as sacrificial lambs.
Although it is good to see the IOC is doing something to combat intense public outrage, the organization is not touching the big guns, including Samaranch himself. Apparently the captain wants to go down with the ship.
The most hilarious change to IOC policy to combat future bribes is the ban of the IOC bid committee members from visiting potential host cities. All this proved was that the organization is a collection of idiots. The IOC apparently thinks corruption is some sort of a disease it couldn't possibly happen over the phone. To add to the stupidity, committee members must now decide what city is best suited to host future Olympic Games, without ever visiting the city.
It will be a sad day when the history of the Olympics Games ends and unfortunately that time is not far away. Corruption and stupidity have taken another important international trademark away from the people of the world.
Goodbye, Olympic Games. Hello, reality.
To contact Ian Ross email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © The Gazette 1999