Why the World Needs Rio

29 July 2016 Alan Attwood

Why the World Needs Rio

Photograph courtesy of istock

THERE are some certainties about every Olympic Games; safe bets that have nothing to do with likely medal-winners. First, much of the opening and closing ceremonies will be inexplicable except to experts in interpretive dance or local folklore. Second, drugs will cast a pall over proceedings before, during and after competition. Third, there will be problems in the lead-up, controversies that cause finger-pointing and debate about why and how the host-city won the bid process.

All Olympic hosts have trouble getting to the line. Bidding for the Games is one thing, preparing to stage them quite another. The whole process is like running a marathon, only longer. People can get wobbly close to the finish line. In management terms it makes no sense: no other major project has such a long lead-in time and is all over in 16 days. Such prolonged foreplay before a comparatively brief consummation is almost certain to produce either boredom or disappointment…

But Rio could yet surprise us all. Games are like that. The spotlight-stealing Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt may, yet again, briefly quell muttering about bread and circuses, the dispossession of the poor and corruption of once-lofty Olympic ideals. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman responsible for the revival of the Games in 1896, saw the Olympic movement as “a radiant union of all the qualities which guide mankind to perfection”. A lofty ideal, yet hopelessly unrealistic today.

by Alan Attwood

For the full story, buy the latest edition of The Big Issue