A friend of mine from my writers' group alerted me to a report on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that appeared on "Real Sports," the HBO Sports show hosted by Bryant Gumbel. The report depicted how the IOC has an unsavory interrelationship between itself and countries that bid for the Olympics. See, the countries (cities, not countries, are supposed to vie for the Games, but we all know that's a lie) bend over backwards to satisfy IOC members and their greed. They don't so much bribe members of the committee as they are blackmailed by them.
The problem turns out to have be much worse than the nasty wheeling and dealing that brought the Summer Games to Atlanta in 1996 (how else could the Olympics have been been held in a city more defined by the 285 beltway than by anything resembling a downtown?) and the Winter Olympics to Nagano, Japan in 1998 (no skiing facilities, no sledding amenities, just craggy mountains that even the local monkeys wouldn't roam across). IOC potentates are expected to be wined and dined at considerable expense and receive all sorts of favors, causing bidders to spend a lot of time, money and energy on the Games. This was supposed to be cleaned up after all of the bribery that plagued the organizing committee for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (and was rectified by Mitt Romney when he took it over), but no, it still goes on. The money spent on the facilities for the Games comes out of public amenities for the poor and the middle class. That's why Sochi was still a mess after the 2014 Winter Olympics and why Rio de Janeiro has become even more uninhabitable for the locals.
Maybe Bill Kristol was right back in 2009 when he said Chicago didn't need the 2016 Olympics. Lord knows Chicago needs a whole lot of other things. Like a mayor who's not in the pocket of big business.
And who makes most of the money for the Games themselves? I'll give you a hint; it's not the host cities. The host cities, in fact, are left holding the bag for maintenance costs for those same facilities. The IOC gets walks away with most of the profits.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach (below), who was a gold-medal fencer for West Germany at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, was supposed to do something about all this, and given that he is a former athlete himself, the athletes were expected, so I have been led to understand, to benefit from his presidency.
Yeah, well, without the athletes, there's no Olympic movement. It's supposed to be all about the athletes, because it's the athletes who compete, it's the athletes who break world records and all that, and it's the athletes we all revere, not the IOC members . . . and it's the athletes we all develop silly celebrity crushes on; I wonder if you all know who I'm talking about? ;-) Ha ha, I have a ladyfriend who loves to check out Ryan Lochte, and not necessarily when he's swimming.
So I hope Bach gets all that and pursues some real reform in the IOC. Because it is indeed all about the athletes. After all, despite the fact that Bach was an Olympian himself, no one tuned into the opening ceremony at Rio to check out Bach's sexy bod. :-p
And if Los Angeles does lose its bid for the 2024 Games, that will mean that Angelenos didn't compromise their integrity - or, at least they didn't compromise it as much as the residents of the city with the winning bid.