The Only Games in Town?

The situation with the Rio Olympics becomes more untenable every day. It’s like watching a terrible train wreck about to happen and not being able to do anything about it.
You’ve got a governing structure—at all levels, federal, state and local—that would win gold medals in every category covering abuse of basic civil rights and institutionalized corruption. Violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) is so far out of control that the regular cops can’t handle it so the army is used to patrol portions of the country and Rio de Janeiro itself.
The country is walking on the edge of a political-economic cliff and it’s not impossible to imagine a military coup or popular revolt.
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The situation with the Rio Olympics becomes more untenable every day. It’s like watching a terrible train wreck about to happen and not being able to do anything about it.
You’ve got a governing structure—at all levels, federal, state and local—that would win gold medals in every category covering abuse of basic civil rights and institutionalized corruption. Violent crime (assault, robbery, rape) is so far out of control that the regular cops can’t handle it so the army is used to patrol portions of the country and Rio de Janeiro itself.
The country is walking on the edge of a political-economic cliff and it’s not impossible to imagine a military coup or popular revolt.

And, of course, the Zika virus has everyone who might be traveling there for the games very, very worried; As well they might be… The disease is in no way under control and actually seems to be spreading. Recently, 150 health experts urged the World Health Organization to consider recommending a delay or relocation of the games.
Not only is Zika spreading locally in the city and state of Rio de Janeiro (where the Olympic village, stadiums other venues are located), but hundreds of thousands of people traveling to the games means thousands of potential carriers traveling back to all parts of the world.

The icing on this decadent and dysfunctional cake is the “shocking discovery” (like when gambling was discovered in the back room of Rick’s Cafe)—the astounding revelation that there were wide-spread doping violations, both individual and government sponsored, during the last two Olympics in Beijing and London. There are dozens of athletes from several countries and even one entire country (Russia) that might be banned from competition.

But, as we all realize, the show will go on. There’s too much nationalistic vanity and dirty money involved for common sense and even basic safety to stop it. The government of Brazil is broke, busted. But who cares? Billions of dollars (where did it come from?) that could feed and house tens of thousands of desperately poor people has been spent on lavish housing for athletes and for stadiums that will probably be overgrown with weeds within weeks of the ending of the games.

Obviously, the simple solution (if solutions were based on honesty, pure love of sport and common sense) would be to build a permanent Olympic village, stadiums and venues in one or two countries (for the winter and summer games). The whole world could share in the expense and divide equally whatever profit there might be. This would at least go part way to restoring the feeling of pure competition to the Olympics and take away the archaic nonsense of nationalism and the stain of crooked money that now prevails.

I really like watching the Olympics (especially the summer games) and I will probably watch these…  But—it gets harder all the time to ignore the political, economic and social decay that surrounds all the Triumph of the Will-type performances and head-in-the-sand commercial-driven TV fairytales.

The only people caught up in (and connected to) this extremely dubious enterprise that I feel sympathy for are: 1) The poor and displaced who will suffer even more because Brazil is hosting the games; and, 2) The athletes, who will be risking their health and the health of their families to compete. Most of these athletes have spent their lives dreaming of (and training for) the Olympics. It’s sad that they have to compete in such terrible surroundings and under such shameful circumstances.

The Olympics were suspended three times during the two World Wars of the Twentieth Century. Well, isn’t the world at war now? Aren’t the rich (and the richest countries) engaged in a war against the poor (and all the rest of us); isn’t a large portion of the world at war with fringe fundamentalist Islam (and some Christian sects)? And isn’t the world at war with itself—trying to commit global suicide by man-made global warming and archaic nationalist power struggles?
I say, (sorry, athletes) let’s take a break; clean up our own messes, then put the Olympics back on the calendar.

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7 Responses to The Only Games in Town?

  1. Nancy Manocherian says:

    Amen!

  2. Gary Cobin says:

    Mike,
    I love Rio.I love Brazil.
    So many just wonderful caring and hardworking and hardplaying people are caught up in a Coup on the Federal level and endemic Corruption locally.
    Now add Dengue Fever ,Zica and other mosquito diseases to the mix.
    Then there is the polluted Guanabara Bay for athletes to compete in and Locals to swim in.
    Crime and Corruption is only exacerbated by Political Instability and low oil and commodity prices.
    It’s a perfect storm.And it’s Real and happening now.
    Yet I love Brazil. I love Rio.
    Out of suffering and Cultural mixing of Brazil has come the Music of Choro, Samba ,Bossa Nova.
    From a rich blending and struggle of Indigenous,African and European peoples has come cuisine such as moqueca(fish stew- one of my favorites),authors such as Jorge Amado ,and various Visionaries and Artists contributing to the Cultural Richness of the world.
    Then of course there is the famous Brazilian” Novela”-Soap Opera.
    Brazil is a Big Soap Opera.
    I only hope for the sake of it’s suffering people that this Episode can somehow find a happy ending.

    • Mike Feder says:

      Yes- I forgot about the polluted lake that will be used for competition.
      I wonder which people got a lot of money for approving Brazil’s bid to host the games?
      From the Olympic committee, down to the the lowest level subcontractor (and including kickbacks all the way along the line) you’re probably talking about tens of millions of dollars. I’d love to see INTERPOL investigate that one.

  3. Karl Burke says:

    I agree!

  4. Beixiong Zheng says:

    It is awful to imagine the potential outbreak of Zika virus due to the Olympics Game. Hope all is well.

  5. Come on .. it’s the OLYMPICS
    mankind’s shining star .. drop everything and just have a blast in true sportsmanship ..the height of what we can be .. there are no boundaries .. the kids play and afterward hang out together .. its life changing .. they realize that after all its just one world .. and we really are just one people …
    “zika virus” … lol.. wake up and see the “fear mongering ” the media need to survive .. mountains out of mole hills .. drama on top of drama .. the microcosm has and will always be with us .. remember so called “west nile like virus” and the panic the media spread or the horror of bird flu .. Bed Sheets kill 350 people just in the USA each year {Mortality Statistics – Accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed (most recent) by Country W.H.O. } if you must have something to worry about.

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