- BC Games
UNCOMMON SENSE: Olympics have outlived their usefulness
So, the skiers are skiing, the skaters are skating, and the bobsledders are bobbing in Sochi, Russia.
They may as well be doing it on the moon for all I care. I’ve given this Olympics, and the couple before it, a pass. That includes the one that intruded on the city of glass to the north in 2010.
Look, I’ll admit the core utopian idea behind the Olympics is nice. Everybody puts aside their grievances for a few weeks, democracies and dictatorships alike, and gets together in the spirit of friendly competition.
The amateur athletes, many of whom usually don’t receive the most casual of interest from their countrymen, are suddenly big stars on a big stage.
I have no problem with the sports in this global sporting event. My problem is with the Olympics.
The Olympics are a fully corporatized, trademarked, travelling oligarchy, which sets up camp in a new city every two years and proceeds to siphon money to itself and select few corporate “Olympic partners.”
Countries that have no business spending billions of dollars on temporary sports infrastructure (Russia and China come to mind) would be better served pulling their people out of dreadful poverty.
Even the successful Vancouver Olympics had its share of necessary cognitive dissonance to be enjoyed. Sure, we can afford to build an Olympic Village in the expensive real estate district of False Creek, but I’m afraid we can’t find affordable housing for our own residents. Sorry.
And then there’s the human rights issues (Russia and China come to mind). Not only do the governments of both countries rest on a foundation of unfathomable human misery and genocide, the contemporary rulers are little better than their predecessors.
Political persecution, summary executions, human rights atrocities, and open war with rebel states, to name but a few of their serious problems. It should have been enough to boycott the games when homosexuality was outlawed.
And then there’s the blatant corruption of it all. Somehow, $51 billion–a quarter of B.C.’s annual gross domestic product–disappeared into the pockets of Russian contractors. There hasn’t been a free-for-all like this since the Halliburton’s executives cheered the first air strike on Baghdad.
I know none of this will matter when Sidney Crosby and the men’s Olympic team start winning games next week and Canada begins thirsting for hockey gold. And I won’t deny the pleasure in watching Canadians excel, as my father did when some out-of-shape NHLers visited Moscow in 1972 and defeated the Red Menace in come-from-behind style.
But some pleasures simply aren’t worth the human cost. And the Olympics is one of them.