Olympic Dream Is Dead

Last updated: December 26, 2016

Is the Olympic Dream Dead?

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The use of performance-enhancing drugs is widespread in the Olympics and reduces the victories of th...

The use of performance-enhancing drugs is widespread in the Olympics and reduces the victories of those who take them to meaninglessness. New drugs such as the growth hormone EPO are very difficult to detect, but the Olympic authorities are doing little to overcome the problem. The President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, has been notoriously reluctant to put his weight behind attempts to beat doping.
No because...
We should have some sympathy with athletes: very often, they are compelled to take drugs by their team’s coach. There are stories of Chinese swimmers eating steroid-laced noodles. To overcome this, the IOC Conference in February 1999 recommended that coaches should take the Olympic Oath as well as athletes. Techniques to detect new drugs are being developed and being embraced by the Olympic authorities. A new mass-spectroscopy unit was installed for the first time at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and a technique that can detect the taking of growth hormones up to 6 months earlier was introduced at Sydney. An Independent Anti-Doping Agency was also established for Sydney. Samaranch declared himself to be fully behind the drugs war as early as 1998. The battle is being won: 12 cases of doping in 1984; two in 1996. The IOC is coming down hard on those who take drugs: a two year ban for the first offence has been introduced.

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The man who revived the Olympics at the end of the 19th century, Baron de Coubertin, insisted that e...

The man who revived the Olympics at the end of the 19th century, Baron de Coubertin, insisted that education of the public in the spirit of fair play, and in the importance of taking part rather than winning, were just as important as the Games themselves. Today, the Games are played by a 'Dream Team' of finely-trained athletes, the exclusivity of which can be conducive only to watching in awe, rather than copying.
No because...
The Olympic movement gives considerable funding to community sports programmes, precisely in order to teach fair play. Meanwhile, it is essential to put together a 'Dream Team' to fulfil the basic Olympic aims: faster, higher, stronger. Surely watching the Games can only be a good thing, since it gives young people something to aspire to, provided it is backed up with the playing of sport, of course?

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The massive commercialisation of the Games erodes the idea of taking part for its own sake: with so ...

The massive commercialisation of the Games erodes the idea of taking part for its own sake: with so much prize money at stake, winning at all costs is the inevitable aim. The rule of the sponsors seems more important than the sport: interrupting television coverage of events is symptomatic of this. Corporate sponsorship concentrates on the richest countries’ athletes. The United States, for example, benefits from huge funding for its team and can thus train them to far higher levels than developing countries can. This prevents competition on an equal footing, one feature of the Olympic Dream.
No because...
There is less prize money at the Olympics than at other international competitions, yet the Olympics are still “the” Games in which to compete. A few breaks in coverage is a small price to pay for 3.5bn people to be able to see the Games, and thus be inspired to play sports: that was the number of viewers predicted for the Atlanta Games. The sponsors do not really have significant control over the running of the Games: Coca Cola’s calls for Samaranch to be replaced were not met; IBM had to end its sponsorship of the Games because the IOC was asking for more than they could pay. The IOC has the stronger hand, and a wide choice of sponsors. Without any sponsorship, many of the poorer countries that are able at present to send a team to the Olympics would be unable to do so. Sponsorship, even a little, is the key to starting to put all countries on an equal footing.

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The Olympics have been hijacked so many times for political purposes that competition “for the glory...

The Olympics have been hijacked so many times for political purposes that competition “for the glory of sport” cannot help but have been smothered. The Munich disaster is the most shocking: nine Israeli athletes were taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists, and were killed. Yet the Games were only suspended for 34 hours. It is as if those who play the Games were less important than the spectacle of the Games. When the USA boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games, they devalued still further the supremacy of sport for its own sake.
No because...
Why should we expect the Olympics to transcend the much graver matter of world politics? They may be excellent for bringing athletes of different nationalities together, but the Games cannot do the work of the UN as well. The USA’s boycott in 1980 was the only real option open to the Government, with the UN having condemned the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan, and around 80% of the American people demanding the boycott.

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The IOC and many national Olympic committees lack integrity, and this kills the Games’ spirit. For e...

The IOC and many national Olympic committees lack integrity, and this kills the Games’ spirit. For example, several of the judges who selected Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and Nagano for the 1998 Winter Olympics are known to have taken 'bribes' - gifts well in excess of guidelines - from the winning countries, and from some of their competitors.
No because...
Whatever goes on in the Committee cannot affect the Dream itself: that is carried on the shoulders of the athletes. It is possible to be faster, higher and stronger wherever the Games are held, so money matters are detached from the Dream. Meanwhile corruption has been rooted out and increased transparency in the bidding and voting process for candidate cities has renewed the IOC's integrity.

Olympic Dream Is Dead
Yes because...

The leadership of the Olympic movement is unaccountable. Juan Antonio Samaranch, the long-time Pres...

The leadership of the Olympic movement is unaccountable. Juan Antonio Samaranch, the long-time President of the IOC, had estimated living expenses of £125,000 per year and clung to his well-rewarded job despite all the scandals, pleading that he was ignorant of the bribery that went on. (He is known to have accepted gifts, including a pair of rare guns!). Since Samaranch was able to resist pressure to resign for so long, the leadership must in reality be unaccountable.
No because...
Samaranch’s management of the IOC in fact revived the Olympics during his time in charge. When he arrived, countries that hosted Olympic Games were losing vast sums of money; by courting sponsorship, he has remedied this, and countries are now queueing up to host the Games. This shows that the Olympic Dream is now more alive than ever. At the 108th session of the IOC, 86 out of the 89 members voted that they had confidence in Samaranch and his tenure was widely celebrated when he retired in 2001. Under his successor, Jacques Rogge, himself a former Olympian, the movement has continued to go from strength to strength and has continued to become increasingly transparent.


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