Mon | Sep 27, 2021

Sordid history of the Olympics

Published:Saturday | July 24, 2021 | 12:05 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Television broadcasters would like to inform anyone watching that the Olympic torch stands for peace, friendship, tolerance and hope. Comparing the pictures of wildly cheering crowds, from 2013 when Tokyo was announced as host city, to the majority of shocked, sullen and silent Japanese people right now, is quite amazing. Having those intervening eight years filled with cost over-runs, all kinds of corruption allegations, cancellations and postponements, along with COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, tends to do that to people, the majority of whom are adamantly opposed to hosting a huge gathering of international athletes in the middle of a pandemic.

Even without a pandemic, the hype from media is never matched by the general populace anywhere. For example, in 2016, only 13 per cent of Canadians said they were very interested in the Rio Summer Olympics, with 81 per cent saying the Games were more about corporate sponsors and commercialism. Since the modern Olympics, which began in 1896, there has been a continuous sordid history of cheating, racism, and corruption of every conceivable kind surrounding administrators and host cities.

Scandals this year are really no different from in the past, with the president of Japan’s Olympic Organising Committee forced to resign for sexist comments, and top directors sacked for bullying and misogyny. The opening ceremony’s head producer was fired a day before the event for anti-Semitic comments made over 20 years ago, and even Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has refused to attend. He was a great influence in bringing the Olympics to Tokyo, and when leading politicians refuse to bathe in the glow of the Olympic torch, you know something is very wrong with this symbol of peace, friendship, tolerance and hope.

BERNIE SMITH

Parksville, BC

Canada