February 13, 2014
Things You Didn’t Know About the Olympics

Tony in Sharon writes as follows:

The question of what events to put in or remove from the Olympics has been a long-standing challenge. Back in 1983, I worked for a while with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch et al, in Lausanne, Switzerland to offer a scheme whereby “we,” namely WHO, would bring IOC drug test kits and chemicals into all regions and countries, as we had immunity from national customs officials, who then could not tip off national coaches what tests to expect, and adjust their performance enhancing drugs to evade those tests. As a result, there was a big decline in Eastern European medal winning in 1984. (Check the records.) Since then, with WHO’s help, IOC has obtained the equivalent of WHO’s international immunity for testing purposes.

At the time, Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling were among the longest standing events in the Olympics. No one would dream of eliminating either. The IOC policy at the time was to add only sports that were practiced in the most numbers of countries. One difficult question then, and which continued through Jacques Rogge’s Presidency, was whether to include women’s ski-jumping. In 1983 only about six countries had national women’s jumping programs, although it seemed pretty obvious that would change, and women can jump as well as men. So, finally we have it in 2014.

Meanwhile, the IOC has added anomalies like ribbon-dancing, perhaps more for political reasons than anything else. And in 2014 we get for the first time in the Olympics “slope-style” snowboarding and skiing, although that gives a decided advantage to those few countries that have the resources to set up and maintain the courses. The Samaranch principle is perhaps being violated, but O.K. it’s fun for everyone, so why not?

But this last year some influential block-heads proposed to eliminate free-style wrestling, as from 2020, despite the fact that free-style high and college wrestling is available in almost 200 countries. As coaches of the eminently successful “Green Wave” high school wrestling program, you must have been shocked by that brainless proposal. But here’s the good news: The plenary IOC has overridden that idiotic quasi decision, and has reinstated freestyle wrestling in all future summer Olympics.

We need to get back to the Samaranch principle, and respect the original ideals and purposes of the Olympics. The Olympics is no place to demonstrate for ideological positions, no matter otherwise how valid. The Olympics are a place where deadly enemies, even those at war with each other (e.g.Athens v. Sparta v. Macedonia) can come and devote all their energies to sport, which can make its own contribution to world peace.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 13, 2014 10:53 AM
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and animals too! I wonder if the lefty Russian folks like cats. Anyone know?


Posted by: on February 14, 2014 6:40 AM

This year is the first time I've watched more than opening ceremonies at any Olympic Games since they were held in Greece a few years back. And all I watched that year WAS the opening ceremony, mostly to see Bjork sing.

I think there is a lot of corruption involved in site selection, and this pisses me off. Also, if we needed more proof of idiocy in the selection --Sochi? Fucking Sochi? First off, its near Terrorist Central for Russia; second, it is TOO WARM. Sure, Putin thinks he has a little ski resort on the Black Sea --- both he AND the Olympic Committee need to read up on global climate change. The Olympic-is-a-trademarked-name crew needs to think about where snow WILL and won't be in coming years. Putin is going to see his fancy complex falling apart and lying in dust in the coming years ---and it is precisely what he deserves.

I've found watching both heartwarming and trite. I've lost interest in fancy figure skating, for instance, because they do more and more weird and bizarre looking lifts, jumps, and throws.
Sure sport evolves, and new things need to be added; but watching curling? Damn, grass growing and paint drying are as entertaining. As for ribbon dancing, well, that is pretty but not a sport. Women's ski jumping was delayed by a bunch of old men worrying about "female organs" and that is beyond stupid. All in all, my watching large portions this year was an exercise in active nostalgia.

But it becomes irrelevant to me, or BECAME so, when they start sending professional hockey players and the like while banning amateurs who made a few bucks skiing/skating in some exhibition.

Posted by: Syrbal/Labrys on February 14, 2014 3:25 PM
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