Don't buy the hype; Olympics as sleazy as sports get

There seems to be an epidemic of “tone deafness” going around.

Chrysler’s Martin Luther King Super Bowl commercial? Tone deaf:

“Even by the standards of the dream merchants who work in advertising and marketing, Chrysler’s use of King’s speech to sell their trucks was dishonest and tone deaf,” wrote Salon magazine.

Grammy Awards? Tone deaf:

“The 2018 Grammy Awards was a tone-deaf, out-of-touch mess,” said the Daily Beast.

Want to know the granddaddy of tone deaf? The Olympics of tone deaf?

The Olympics.

We are about to be subjected to two weeks of television — the 2018 Winter Olympics — that is as fraudulent as any reality program you can find. Actually, it may be worse, because this one is validated by worldwide power and influence, all in the name of the fundamental principles of Olympism:

“Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”

Here’s your fundamental principles:

The entire USA Gymnastics board of directors recently resigned in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal involving more than 100 young Olympic female hopefuls over 25 years. “Our position comes from a clear sense that USAG culture needs fundamental rebuilding,” the United States Olympic Committee said in a letter demanding they step down.

Very noble of the USOC — which may soon find itself in front of a congressional committee investigating the scandal. Senators from both parties have called for a probe of the USOC.

They’ll have to get in line.

The Justice Department, in its ongoing probe of international sports corruption — racketeering, money laundering and fraud — issued grand jury subpoenas investigating the activities of the USOC, in addition to the organized crime commission known as the International Olympic Committee and another model of corruption, FIFA, according to a report last month by the New York Times.

The Justice Department also spearheaded the investigation into Russian Olympic doping — the doping that got Russia banned from these games. There are Russian competitors, yes, but they are taking part in these 2018 Winter Olympics under the Olympic flag — not the Russian flag, which has been banned from the South Korea games.

Yes, the host country for the last Winter Olympics seems to have violated those precious Olympic principles, though doping may be the least of the Russian crimes. Those Sochi games — which, according to some accounts cost the obscene amount of $51 billion, some of which is believed to have come from Russian organized crime — were hailed as a breakthrough for democracy for the country.

When Sochi was awarded the games in 2007, the Russian official in charge of the bid, Dmitry Chernyshenko, said, “The games will help Russia’s transition as a young democracy.”

How’s that working out”?

And what of Sochi these days? Still basking in the glow of the most expensive Olympics in history? Hardly. A May 2016 Christian Science Monitor report: “The largely empty stadiums in nearby Olympic Park stand as prime examples of a phenomenon known as ‘ghost infrastructure,’ which has fueled post-Olympic blues in many host cities. The upkeep of the huge structures is a constant drain on the budgets of the various local and federal offices that have been given dubious ownership of them.”

This is the legacy the Olympics leave behind nearly everywhere the event sets up shop — Brazil, Greece, Australia and now possibly Pyeonchang, South Korea — which, 50 miles away from North Korea, has enough to deal with.

Drugs, bribes, bankruptcy — these are the actual fundamental principles of Olympism — but for two weeks, everyone will choose to ignore that, as if the competition isn’t connected to any of it. Olympic tone deafness.

“Faster, Higher, Stronger,” is the Olympic motto.

It should be sleazier, sordid, shameful.

#2018 #Olympics

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© 2018 Thom Loverro