This post has to be about the Olympic Games, doesn’t it? On two fronts. The games in Tokyo, having been delayed since 2020, have started. Whether that was wise remains to be seen. Covid is a huge concern in Japan and it seems 80% of the population did not want the games to go ahead. But I suppose that there’s so much money invested in the spectacle taking place that it’s going to go ahead regardless. Let’s hope it doesn’t end up being a super-spreader event.
I appreciate that there are a lot of people for whom competing in the Olympics is a lifetime goal and for those in sports where only the young really stand much chance, like swimming, cancelling the Games may mean the end of the dream. But it seems to me, in the midst of covid lockdowns, sport comes out better than anything else – in terms of having the rules bent. A rugby match between France and Australia could go ahead with spectators and that resulted in more covid in the community. Here in Queensland, a few people have noticed that the inevitable closure of the border with NSW didn’t happen until the families of the National Rugby League (NRL) teams (who had already been moved from NSW to QLD) had arrived.
Of course, if you’re rich enough, closures and quarantine are not a problem. But that goes without saying.
Anyway, the Games have started in Tokyo, and good luck to everybody. I’ll admit to being a tad cynical about the whole show. In elite sport the difference between winning and coming second is too often steroids. Remember the 1976 games where the East Germans filled their athletes with steroids? Kornelia Ender won four gold medals all in world record time. [source] Too bad for the ‘clean’ swimmers who had to settle for second. Then there was Canadian Ben Johnson and American Marion Jones in running, the Russians, the Chinese etc etc. And not just the Olympics. Who can forget Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France?
Mind you, there have always been cheats in the Olympics. “In 1904, American Fred Lorz, stopped running nine minutes into the marathon event and caught a lift in a car part of the way.” And another. “The Spanish basketball team at the 2000 Paralympics pretended to be disabled to win the gold medal.” [source]
Still, when the Olympic Games came to Sid-eny, Australia in 2000, I was privileged to have been there. We attended some swimming heats, gymnastics finals, volleyball, and kayaking. The volleyball, between (I think) Russia and South Korea, was fantastic, positively nail-biting. And the kayaking at a course in Penrith was great. The other two were meh. But it was a fabulous experience, so well-organised and the army of volunteers helping people to get around was terrific.
And now Australia will get another go at the Games with Brisbane (and the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast) winning the right to host the 2032 Games. Are we happy about that? Not according to the comments in The Australian. Would you be doing this if it was your money? Olympic Games cost a lot of money to stage and even using existing facilities, the estimate is AU$5,000,000,000. (5 billion). The Federal Government has agreed to pay half the costs. Bear in mind that Qld is already up to its ears in debt – close to AU$100 billion, and the Commonwealth isn’t any better. That $5 billion will have to be borrowed. And all that money will be spent in Qld’s south-east corner. Which means deserving projects in other parts of this vast state will be passed by. Again. They’ll be spending $1 billion on replacing the Gabba stadium in central Brisbane, increasing its capacity from 42,000 to 50,000 spectators. In the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games the stadium at Carrara was used for the opening and closing ceremony, and athletics. That might have been a cheaper option but it’s too far or something. And these are budget figures. Watch them double within the next eleven years.
I’ll be getting on for 82 in 2032 (always assuming I make it that far) so I doubt if I’ll be attending any of the events. But as I suggested earlier, sports are usually for the young. I hope the overall cost to the state and the country will end up being worth it. Because the young will be paying it back.