The Olympics have run their race

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

What if they gave an Olympics and nobody came?

We’re about to find out because with just a few weeks to the Tokyo opening ceremony, there will be no crowds, no atmosphere, and no enthusiasm among the local population.

We are just a few weeks away from the Tokyo Olympic Opening Ceremony. Credit:AP

These will be the eerily silent Games.

Some want to cancel the event altogether. But why not go one step further and, after 125 years, consign the whole modern Olympic movement to history?

To begin, Australia currently spends an eye-watering $500 million on our Olympic athletes every four years. At Rio, we won 29 medals; that’s $17 million a pop. Along the way that money has also been used in the systematic abuse of some of our young athletes, especially in gymnastics.

Then there’s the list of sports, that, in a desperate bid for TV ratings now include skateboarding, surfing and BMX freestyle. And don’t get me started on including golf and tennis (whose four annual major tournaments make the Olympics look mediocre at best). I’d much prefer they went back to croquet and tug-of-war.

Australia won 29 medals at the Rio Olympics. Credit:JOE ARMAO

The 1976 Montreal Games were the apotheosis of drug cheating and cynical Cold War professionalism. Australia did poorly because our old-fashioned knockabout Australian attitude to sport could no longer compete.

But rather than stand up for our ideals and against hyper-professionalism, we established the Australian Institute of Sport. It was a signal that we were desperate to win gold and, so we are told, every four years, experience some kind of fleeting inspiration and jingoistic reflected glory.

I reject that nonsense absolutely. The truth is we can never be inspired when the Olympics are so tawdry; so much about vast reservoirs of public money being pumped toward a handful of medal prospects. What we get are chest-thumping winners and petulant losers, political boycotts and drug cheating, all shabbily dressed up in ideals about fair play and nobility.

Who needs the Olympics? They’ve run their race. Let’s focus instead on local and junior sports that keep alive the flame of simply playing for honour and glory.

As Gough Whitlam once said, “The pursuit of excellence is a worthy goal, but it is not the race itself”.

Duncan Fine is a lawyer and regular columnist.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article