Yesterday I spoke with Barry Maister, our representative on the IOC, and I asked him if the Olympics have lost their shine for him.
He replied that despite the Russian drug scandal Rio it's still an exciting prospect for him and it's only a fortnight away. I'm not sure I share his excitement.
When I was a kid the Olympics were very special. And Barry Maister was a big part of it
My first memory was Montreal in 76. When Australia and New Zealand played in the hockey final I was in the school assembly hall with 1500 other Grammar boys. Hunched over our transistors radios I remember the cheer when New Zealand scored and then when New Zealand won. Assembly ended out being half an hour late because the headmaster, DJ Graham, was obviously watching in his study. When he came out to address the boys he had a smile as wide as the ocean and his first words were how was that and we all cheered. That was when Barry Maister won a gold medal and hockey unified a nation. Thanks Barry. That was special.
That year John Walker also won the 1500m gold and that was special. But it was not til I was older that I realised that Filbert Bayi was not there. Bayi beat Walker in the 74 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch when both men went under the world record in the most extraordinary race. But we didn't get a repeat 2 years later because of the African boycott of New Zealand for a rugby tour of South Africa.
That bittersweet memory is the one that has infected the Olympics ever since. The boycott of the Russian games made them a farce. Meanwhile the impact on the host nations has also hogged headlines. The bankrupting of cities and nations as we'll realise in Rio this year but also Montreal. The building of white elephants in cities like Beijing and Athens. The games are a poisoned chalice.
And now we have the Russian drugs scandal and continual stories of the financial freakshow that is Rio.
I'm calling time on the Olympics. I'm interested in the 100 metres and the 1500 metres in athletics. Slightly interested in the swimming but otherwise I have other distractions. The golfers have pointed out the incongruities in the modern games. The top 4 male golfers say they're not going because of the Zika virus but that's a fib. It's because it's not the pinnacle of their sport. Same with tennis. Same with a host of sports.
To watch it you have to have Sky and there's argy bargy about Sky sharing it's images with other media, including my company.
And that's why the Olympics have lost it for me. It's so commercial that people are trying to prevent everyone watching it. It's only the pinnacle in increasingly minor sports. It is no longer unifying of nations and it appears it is corrupt and drug ridden in the pursuit of national pride. The drugging scandal is proof that we've lost track of reality in the pursuit of gold.
I've long said that the games should be held every 4 years in Olympia in Greece to stop cities going broke too. Rotate the organisation committees to keep the national pride. It should be the traditional sports where this is the peak. And you have to understand that various world championships have as much cachet as the Olympics.
The Olympics have become a monster that do sport and nations no good.