Is it Time to “Call” the Olympics?

You’ve all seen the hospital drama TV shows where, despite the valiant efforts of doctors and nurses, someone has to “call” the time of death of a patient to make the end official, such as “Time of death, 2;48 PM.”  At which point everyone sulks away, a few people cry, and then the story quickly turns to someone having sex in the doctor’s lounge . . . or something like that. Watching the build-up to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio feels like one of those scenes. No one really wants to say it’s over, but someone somewhere has to be the adult in the room and say what everyone else is thinking: it’s over. Time of death for the Olympic Games, August 2016. (Cue somber music.)

Just look at the headlines today when you search for Olympics in Google News. Almost nothing about the athletes themselves (except for the doping Russians.) There should be an excitement for the coming international match-ups. Instead, it’s well, just take a look.

Olympic News headlines

The lead story seems to be about how unprepared Brazil is for the games to begin: stadiums unfinished, the Olympic village “unsanitary”, polluted water venues, and a lack of security despite numerous threats of terrorism. How does something like that happen? Rio was awarded the games in 2009 and have had almost 7 years to get ready.  Is it just too much anymore to ask a country to build facilities for a one time event? Other reports I’ve read make it sound like events like this (including the World Cup) can bankrupt some countries.  Is that what the Olympics are really about? Maybe we need to build a permanent location and just go there every four years instead of this “will it be ready?” circus every four years.

And don’t even get me started on the rampant cheating and the whole “professional vs amateur” fiasco. Look, the Olympics were a great idea at the time and served a great purpose every four years, like reminding Americans there were sports other than football, basketball and baseball. But when times change, it might just be time to make a change to an idea whose time has come and gone.

Time of Death, August 2016.