Receive Updates from Mind of Menyhert via Email!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cut the Olympic Doom Crap Out, Media

The Olympic Games have once again come to a close. Rio passes the torch to Tokyo while Pyeongchang (no, not Pyongyang) prepares to welcome the Winter Olympics in 2018. We'll also probably hear soon which city will be awarded the 2024 Olympics.

There has been a trend with the Olympics lately which is bothersome and seems to only be getting worse. The media seems to be only too happy to relentlessly point out the negative aspects of what's going on in the host country or city.

It was not particularly visible in Vancouver, but Beijing, London, Sochi, and Rio all had serious doubts as to whether their hosting of the Games would run smoothly. The Athens Olympics are now looked back upon with frustration as Greece reels from economic catastrophe.

Now, the issues that surround the Olympics are not fabricated, they are very, very real. Rarely does the Olympics make a host city money, and the International Olympic Committee is an organization rife with corruption. London gambled by putting the Olympic Stadium in a relatively underdeveloped region of the city. Russia's anti-gay laws and questionable location choice (Sochi is a beach resort town, not a winter wonderland) were rightfully mocked and criticized. Rio and Brazil do struggle with corruption, poverty and crime, not to mention Brazil's economy falling off a cliff in the last few years. By contrast, the Brazilian economy was surging when Rio was awarded the Games.

But the show went on and Rio was able to put together a good show. The Opening Ceremony wasn't the amazing spectacle of Beijing, Sochi or London, but it went off without a hitch and the subdued nature of it is understandable considering how much less money Rio allocated for it. There were a few isolated incidents with crime, but nowhere near the disaster that was expected. Zika was a near non-issue as it is winter in Rio and the mosquitos which can carry Zika were not present as they would be in the summer. And these Olympics were full of wonderful sports stories just as previous Games were, with Neymar, Brazil's golden boy, smashing a penalty goal past the German keeper to give Brazil revenge for the 7-1 dismantling in the World Cup semifinal, Michael Phelps doing what he does best once again, Britain's surge into the top of the medal table, Usain Bolt effortlessly wowing the crowds with more golds on the track. Kosovo won their first medal ever. A refugee team marched into the Maracana to a standing ovation.

Furthermore, Rio is not some backwater village. It's a sprawling city that receives tons of tourists every year despite its problems. It had (has) the infrastructure to handle a large event such as the Olympics.

Perhaps some of it can be attributed to prejudice. Brazil, like many of its neighbors, has stereotypes that portray it as a lawless, crime-ridden land where everyone's looking to make a quick buck off any unsuspecting gringo tourist. This was less evident in Sochi and much, much less evident in London.

This media hysteria will likely continue, but look for it to move from the Olympics to the World Cup. South Korea and Japan, the next two hosts, will likely get less negative press when they host the Games as they're known as advanced and well-developed countries, but it could come back in 2022 when Beijing hosts the Winter Games, as most of the events will have to be many miles outside Beijing proper, not to mention how 2022 seemed to be the Olympics nobody wanted-by the time the IOC had to choose a city, only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan remained in the running as every other bid had been withdrawn. The World Cup, however, has even bigger problems with Qatar and (to considerably less controversy) Russia hosting next.

It's fine to call out the problems that come along with the Olympics. There are real problems that come with hosting the Olympic Games, and they should be brought to light. Hysteria, however, is just obnoxious, and as we saw with Rio, largely unfounded when crunch time hits. Cut it out and let the host countries put on their shows.

No comments: