Rio 2016: A curmudgeon’s view

I can predict that this will not be a popular post. If you are a fan of sport, look away now.

I am not a sports fan. I don’t follow football, (soccer) unlike most men in England. I find Cricket to be terminally dull, and as for Golf and Tennis, don’t get me started on those. Watching Snooker or Darts on TV is a popular pastime here. Why? Some people will watch anything claiming to be sport. Wrestling, Boxing, Gymnastics, Bowls, Banger Racing, even the tedious Formula One, all have their devoted followers, and loyal fans.

When old sports get a little tired, new ones come along at an alarming rate. Beach Volleyball, BMX Biking, Iron Man Trials, and even weightlifting ridiculous things like lorry tyres, or pulling trucks along with their teeth. Windsurfing, Power Boat Racing, Dune Buggy Racing, and Dog-Sled Racing. It never ends. As if just Swimming alone was not enough to send me to sleep, we have to have Synchronised Swimming, Water Polo, Diving, and Open Water Swimming.

The ordinary TV channels are already swamped with the stuff, so they have to have dedicated sports channels as well. The top sports men and women are revered like modern gods. They are used in advertising, as spokespersons for good causes, and even give advice on nutrition, cooking, and diet. They endorse products, sell sports kit of their own design, and their lives are scrutinised by the media; promoted as ideal examples of human kind, something we should all aspire to be.

Then every four years, we get the Olympics. A political mash-up of the New World Order, posing as a celebration of everything good about sport. At one time, that might have been the way of it. But that one time was a long time ago. For as long as I can recall, it has been about medal tables, some nations being better than others, and the supremacy of certain countries in particular sports. Professionals are now allowed to participate, and even the amateurs are either employed by their countries to train, or sponsored with so much money that they never have to do anything except perfect their sport.

There are some also-rans of course. Tiny countries that send small teams, and large countries that send even smaller teams. Success in the Olympics drives even the poorest and unsuited to compete. But it is never about those who never even get a medal. It is always about whether or not the USA will get more medals than China, or Russia. Will former Soviet Republics outdo the Russians who once ruled over them, and will divided countries like Korea, Pakistan, and India achieve a medal victory over the other. There is the long-running argument about performance-enhancing drugs, allowing the IOC to try to ban some competitors, even whole nations. Then there is the corruption evident in the IOC itself.
I wonder that this farce is allowed to continue.

And what of the much-vaunted ‘Olympic Legacy’? Countries that cannot really afford to stage these games clamour to do so. They cite increased revenue from tourism, the prestige of hosting the games, and all the marvellous sports facilities that will be left behind, for the long-term benefit of the local people to use. This may well be the case in some affluent countries. The UK managed to stage the 2012 games without going bankrupt, and many of the facilities built for the games are still used, four years later. But should a place like Rio, with much of its population living in relative poverty in shanty towns even contemplate the expense of this? To any sensible person, the answer is a resounding ‘No’.

The next fiasco is in Tokyo, in 2020. The Japanese can probably afford it.

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41 thoughts on “Rio 2016: A curmudgeon’s view

  1. Yes agree with you. Rio lacks the true economic and law enforcement infrastructure overall. Rio has a lot poverty stricken areas as well. The class divide is overwhelming HUGE in Rio when comparing RICH vs. POOR. The reasons and decision making of the IOC and FIFA simply comes down to one thing only MONEY. Sad, but true the corrupt policticans and execs of sports organizations / associations all benefactors of this system. End be all, the country or city gains recognition but at what cost to it people or citizens…Bankruptcy?!? Makes no sense. Enjoy your post, look forward to your next post!

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Milton. Now a week has gone by, it seems to be running smoothly enough. The main issue is the lack of spectators. Some events are running at a maximum of 50% stadium occupancy, others a lot less. It is very expensive to fly to Rio from Europe. As well as that, the southern hemisphere is approaching winter now. Perhaps they should have considered that, before awarding the games to Rio?
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Great post and as much as I like the Olympics, the scandals and ultracompetitveness can leave me cold.

    One reason why Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics was because they will be using existing facilities and the main stadium used for the 1964 games will be the focal point. Much like when LA hosted the Olympics in 1984, they used a lot of existing facilities and even reused the stadium built for the 1932 games for the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics events.

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  3. Pete, great post you have here.. I use to love watching the games years ago. But, in the past while I’ve strayed away from the games with all of the newer changes. So, nothing much on the telly over here now, until the games are all done.. I suppose my D.V.D. Collection will be getting a work out …

    Take care, Laura πŸ™‚

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          1. We (personally) never eat popcorn over here. At least not at the cinema, or in our house. If I have it, I prefer the toffee variety. And you are right, it gets stuck in your teeth! x

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Years ago, I went to a few Kansas City Chiefs football games, and dalso attended a few KC Royals games. I watched every moment of the 1985 baseball playoffs and World Series, won by the Royals, on TV (watched the players parade down Main St. in Kansas City, too), and kept track online of their 2015 World Series win as well. Back in the 1980s, I watched some tennis, and got to where I knew the players and understood the scoring system. I’ve watched a handful of international soccer games, and have been to a couple of local indoor soccer games. I’ve seen a hockey match or two But, to be honest, I don’t generally watch sports. My Kansas City connection is pretty old (I left in 1995), but since Las Vegas doesn’t have a national franchise… I’ve been to one NASCAR championship race, and it was so incredibly loud and boring that I vowed to never do it again. I can name a million things I’d rather do than watch sports: Las Vegas show, outdoor theater, symphony orchestra, opera, chamber music, etc. Not to mention hiking, birding, and, of course, reading/writing and watching a film.

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  5. Pete, I love American baseball, and we follow it every day. Our team is the Nationals. Other than that, I am uninterested. Like the weather, it is a popular topic amongst strangers and friends. I’d rather talk about a movie or a book. But you probably knew that. πŸ™‚

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    1. It is something of a conversation-killer for me too, Cindy. When I am asked what football team I support, (a common question here) I always say the same one that I followed in London as a small boy. Trouble is, I don’t know the names of any current players, or how well they are doing!
      (Is your team the Arizona Diamondbacks? They came up first on a search.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. πŸ™‚ Yes, the AZ Diamondbacks are the state baseball team. However, I spent 7 years in Virginia, and became a Washington Nationals fan. Baseball is one of those summertime, emotional comforts for me. My grandpa always had a game on or was listening to one. Many a car ride came with the call of baseball. My ex-husband was a sports fanatic. Baseball was on everyday and my two sons caught the spirit. Now I watch it everyday. The players, the team, the announcers. It’s silly. Something to pass the time away. Background noise while making supper. Something for Jim and I do together. Fortunately, we can turn off the game or skip parts of the game to do something else. It is the sound of summer for me.

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  6. I have only ever enjoyed sport if I were involved or if it was a live event, as you may have guessed neither of these happen anymore. The Olympics, if it wasn’t for them dominating the BBC news page I would be non the wiser and the links will remain unclicked. I must however confess to following Formula 1, my best excuse for having a beer or two on a Sunday afternoon…just a shame its not on every Sunday!

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    1. Formula One has a massive fan base. Even my 70+ mother in law loves it. I have just never understood it. The same people win all the time, and they just go round in circles. One that I will never get.
      Hope all’s well over there mate. Best wishes to all three. Pete.

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  7. I like baseball (when it doesn’t drag out too much) and American football, but when it comes to the Olympics – some of those categories really leave a lot to be desired. I think gymnastics is about the only one I might watch through and that’s probably because I was half-way decent at it in school.
    [I recorded a lot of old reruns to watch during the monotonous sports events].

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  8. I don’t usually watch the Olympics as I get somewhat bored doing so. Plus it always messes up the television schedule. I don’t mind football, tennis or cricket though.

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    1. In my experience all televised sport makes a mockery of the schedules. I think that the BBC should have a stand-alone sport channel. I would pay extra on the licence fee to get it off the main channels, but I am in the minority, I suspect.
      Cheers mate, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I confess to liking tennis and even rugby at international level, but the Olympics leaves me cold. It might be an age thing, but the more I see of this endless ostentation (and you can add New Year fireworks to that) the more I worry about the world. How many children could have had vital food, vaccinations, clean water, a safe bed… I’d applaud a country that had a simple ceremony and donated the millions saved to helping the millions still living in poverty. Your fellow curmudgeon, πŸ™‚

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  10. Neither me or Phil is interested in watching it, (although we will watch the chaps diving because Phil used to be good at it πŸ™‚ ) we don’t do footy,cricket, darts,snooker either etc etc. so no you are not alone.

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  11. Tbh, I wouldn’t even know it was happening if you hadn’t posted this. That’s how much interest I take. My husband has been away for the last two weeks and I haven’t watched TV once. Never even thought about it. The whole world could end and I’d know nothing about it if it were not for social media…

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  12. Think of it this way, Pete. By having all these organized sports and focusing on them as the media does, it keeps millions of aimless youth off the streets and, largely, out of trouble. If we didn’t have the Olympics, think of the increase in street crime it would cause.

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    1. I’m not at all surprised, Sarah. I have just had to throw away almost half of the Radio Times because of the Olympic TV listings. As I said, it is a curmudgeon’s view…
      Best wishes, Pete. x

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