It’s Time to Rethink the Olympics


The time has come to press pause and reimagine the Olympics. It might even be time, I’ve come to believe, for the entire endeavor to close down for good.

What say you?

First, consider the near term.

In July, yet another wildly overbudget Summer Games, originally slated for 2020 but postponed because of the pandemic, will begin in Tokyo.

The timing remains awful.

Japan has worked hard to tamp down the coronavirus, but now cases are creeping up, and the nation’s vaccination rate is lagging. Organizers just rerouted the torch relay planned this week to reach the streets of Osaka, where one health official said the spread of new variants had pushed the medical system to “the verge of collapse.”

Into this troubled environment, 11,000 athletes from all corners of the globe will descend, along with coaches, officials, Olympic support staff, media workers and more. The Tokyo Games could end up being a three-week superspreader event that leads to death and illness across Japan and far beyond.

The modern Olympics, founded in the 1890s as a way to showcase “a life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of a good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles,” are now synonymous with scandal of many varieties, including doping, bribery and physical abuse of athletes.

They’ve sparked suffering among the poor and working class in host cities through gentrification and the forced removal of tens of thousands of residents at venues from Beijing to Seoul to Rio.

Give athletes greater power — not just so they can protest from the medal stands, but so they can be equal partners in shaping the entire Olympic movement.

Instead of hopscotching across the world, consider alternatives. Maybe park the Games permanently at a pair of well-used venues — one for summer, one for winter. That would cut costs, environmental damage and displacement. It would also end the churn of a bidding process that invites corruption.

Or decentralize. Hold individual events in already built sites across the globe during a three-week window. Sure, we’d have to give up the spectacle of a lavish opening ceremony and the thought of athletes from different sports mingling in Olympic Villages. But in an interconnected world full of lavish spectacle, is all that still a must?

I admit, there aren’t many straightforward answers, but it’s time to work toward a new future.



Sahred From Source link Sports

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