I am writing this as a lay observer of the the recent IOC session and election. I have to admit that I have never been greatly inspired by, or interested in, the Olympic Movement, though I somehow feel that as a person who cares greatly about humanity I should be. The Games, after all, unites people from all over the world and aims “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practicsed without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.
What lofty and admirable goals indeed. Yet certain observations disappointed me, observations which to me certainly betrayed the good ideals behind the Movement. For example, I’m sad to see that the charisma of a person or persons (PM Tony Blair and Sebastian Coe) was a huge deciding factor in the outcome of the vote. If personalities count more in the voting process, aren’t we forgetting that this election is about what’s best for the Olympic Movement as a whole and not about which countries have the best supporters? If I am right, then perhaps we should also be questioning the use of getting celebrities behind each country’s pitch. This distracts greatly from the issues at hand. What’s the point if so and so is attached to a certain competing city because he/she love his/her time spent there? Is this a popularity competition for the best city in the world? Surely not. It’s a competition for the best city for hosting the Summer Olympics and thus should be based on which city is best for the Movement and best for reaching the ideals of the Olympics.
If the Olympic Movement seeks to inpire people like me then it has to live up to its ideals. It has to get its fundamentals correct and go back again to its original mission. Whichever city hosts the Games is one of the most important and visible decisions of the Movement. I do not see how choosing London, as opposed to Moscow, would help in contributing to “building a peaceful and better world.” Certainly a transitional economy like Moscow needs it more than the other 4 countries and I could clearly see how having Moscow host the Games would contribute to the fulfillment of the Movement’s goals. Sure, there were problems in Moscow’s plans and theirs was the worst of the 5 cities. This is of course unsurprising if we look at the four major cities it is running against, yet definitely not something that could not be worked on to ensure a wonderful Olympic Summer games there.
I’m sorry to say but, in my opinion, the bidding process of the Games greatly compromises what the Olympic spirit is all about. Call me too much of an idealist but I would like to see at least one important major institution like the Olympic Movement untainted by politics and behind the scenes lobbying so prevalent in other major organizations like the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and World Trade Organization (WTO). God only knows what Blair said to the 20 or so IOC members during his private talk with them and what sort of other deals went on secretly between the various countries and IOC members.
Could we have “fair play” not only in sports but also in the bidding process? Perhaps the IOC should rethink the way it chooses a host city. And it should choose one based on what’s good for humanity and peace in this world. Then, I will be inspired.