Never in a million years did I think I’d be writing a post like this. The girl who grew up wanting more than anything to become an
Olympian, who instead became the biggest fan of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, is experiencing heartache of epic proportion. It’s over.
At least for now it’s over. I won’t be so bold as to say that the Olympics and I are “consciously uncoupling,” but I have made the decision to step away. We’re on a break. And I’ve got to do some soul searching over the coming months to decide what happens next.
I’ve been watching the Olympics for as long as I can remember, watching them religiously since I was 10. I’ve never failed to watch an opening ceremony. I’ve never missed the key events I wanted to watch. When I began this blog six years ago, I was able to write about all the feelings the Olympics bring out in me. I was able to share my excitement with others through my writing, on the radio, and in social media. It made me love the games even more than I thought I could. Until now.
On a personal level, 2016 has been a really tough year. Surely the Olympics–the one thing I’ve relied on to escape the pain of real life–wouldn’t let me down, too? It did. In fact, the IOC had been letting me down for awhile, but I was too naive or stubborn to realize it.
I really wanted to support an Olympics in South America. I wanted to see the Olympics expand to other continents. I wanted the 2016 Olympics to help energize the Brazilian economy. I was crossing my fingers for a Rio Games that would be recognized for environmental sustainability, an Olympics as green as the Brazilian flag. Nope. Not gonna happen.
The reasons behind my painful decision stem from the level of corruption within the IOC which continues to grow. Cities are being awarded Olympics in exchange for money and other favors. After the deals are done and the Olympics are awarded, the bulldozers come in, destroying people’s homes, leaving innocent residents homeless. Those who protest are beaten, imprisoned, or silenced in other ways. It happened in Beijing. In Sochi. And it happened again in Rio.
There is raw sewage flowing directly into the water where athletes will be competing and where visitors will be swimming. Trash, dead animals, and other large items are also floating around in the waters surrounding Rio de Janeiro, which directly impact the safety and performance of athletes competing in the waters. (Did I mention the bay in which swimmers will be competing contains raw sewage?)
There’s also this tiny thing called the Zika Virus. While the source of Zika is a mosquito, the virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. It’s the Olympics. There’s a lot of sex at the Olympics.
Maybe it’s a delayed part of growing up. Maybe this year’s US Presidential campaign awoke a voice in me, and I cannot in good conscience condone the atrocities occurring in the name of the Olympic Movement.
I still don’t believe Olympic athletes should be paid. Yet I also disagree that they should be banned from certain privileges while the IOC rakes in billions of dollars. The IOC isn’t just receiving these gifts directly to its non-profit organization, but individual members of this governing body are pocketing millions of dollars and receiving other favors, profiting off of the trials and tribulations of the Olympic athletes.
This is not the Olympics I grew up watching. Or, maybe it was, but the level of greed, corruption, and harm inflicted on the innocent has increased. Because of this, I can no longer feel good about watching the Olympics. It certainly isn’t the Olympics founded by Coubertin.
To any doubters or naysayers, I encourage you to watch the most recent episode of “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel.” Some of what Gumbel and his fellow journalists reported I knew about, but not all of it. My eyes are now fully open. I am heartbroken.
Some of you might say, “But in a world full of so much despair, don’t we need the Olympics? Don’t we need them to give us hope? Why such negativity?” Yes, with the current world in which we live, we need something every few years to distract us, dazzle us, and offer an escape. But we need the Olympics of old. Otherwise, by watching and supporting the Olympics Games of the 21st Century, we are only aggrandizing the amount of suffering and despair in this world.
The one thing I thought I could count on has failed me. It has truly and fully succumbed to the powers of human greed and evil. My heart is heavy.
Faster, Higher, Stronger.