Once is 4 years, eyes and excitement of the whole connected world converge onto a single event - The Olympics. Its a grand beautiful idea about sports bringing the world together. Indeed, when it was started it was an amateur undertaking with pleasure of sports being at the center of the event. The media never tires of talking about the 'spirit of the games'. But sitting here in India, there are hardly any ripples we see of this event.. Even the grand commonwealth games that our Capital city hosted recently, didn't create any long standing infrastructure for sports, or inculcated habit of sports, or even inspired the youth to take up sports seriously. It was a farce and everyone saw it as one, as the government, in its quest to save its face, dusted its poor behind hoardings of brands and overburdened the city traffic. As officials lined their pockets with Olympian bribes, Indian athletes who represented their country were facing crushing poverty and neglect.
...So much for the beneficial effect of the games. Here, NGC has tried to compile a few snapshots of the aftereffect of the games. While some infrastructure gets utilized, the bill size of the games hardly seems to justify itself. (China spent 40 Billion dollars apparently, London spent 20 billion.. Imagine that kind of money spent on healthcare, public housing or creating open spaces. In a connected world, do you really need such huge spectacles to drive tourism?( the only justification for inflating the games) a fraction of that money spent on creating friendly infrastructure and improving visa regimens would bring instead marvelous changes.)
Lets go back to the question of the 'spirit of the game'.
I read a perspective about a great change that has come about over the course of time.
Here's a BBC article and an excellent video about the changes that the increase in scale of the games has brought on - the moneys involved, the brands ownership and its effect on small businesses and host cities.
As the games get bigger and bigger, its increasingly alienating communities and people from the said 'spirit'. Echoing that spirit is costing people lawsuits and restriction of what they consume & what they say. Apparently, branding on such massive scales is leading to restrictions that Communist countries could not even dream - so efficient, so ruthless, so utterly absurd.
Check out the 'protected words' section in the BBC article. Using words such as '2012 Games' or 'Gold games' and such combinations, would get a small brand/ communication/ small business owner in trouble. Isn't it absurd? Normal language is getting restricted, as was the case with the usage of 'Faster, Higher, Stronger', the Olympic motto, by a Brit artist. Imagine sections of spaces/ languages/ consumptive practices/ emotions being cordoned off by global brands... Its an act of siege. Our conscience is under siege by the global brands and Olympics and such global events are merely stooges of these brands, the temporary mediums through which they effect their muscles.
Do you want to be a part of it really? Do you want to be part of a spectacle where increasingly the athletes are symbols of brands and freak strength born of artificial manipulations and training?
For one, I am not going to see Olypics or partake in any of its events. The major reason being the complete undermining of the human spirit of compassion by IOC. Olympic 2012 is sponsored in part by DOW chemicals, which is responsible for thousands of death in Bhopal, India. I simply cannot be party to any event that supports the perpetrators of such heinous crimes. What good are these games, if the world cannot act as a community together and stand together against such criminals corporations?
What is needed is to chip away the ridiculous trappings of scale that this event is staged on. This means, breaking down the games to more manageable scale that does not require billions in infrastructure development every 4 years, that does not need support of global brands.
The games should truly create a difference for local communities and instills in them a love for the beauty of human will and ability. It should become a showcase of the global brotherhood, not global consumerism.
I have an idea. How about Olympics being spread out into many venues instead of one venue? How about making it a continuous process of sports excellence rather than a spectacle that leaves behind empty useless stadiums? How about re-imagining sports with an emphasis on the game aspect of it, rather than skill part of it, to bring back joy to sports?
That entails creation of local sports infrastructure by communities worldwide, where the continuous process of playing and perfecting skills leads to global competitions that could use any of local facilities. As such the onus of funding lies with local communities, governments, businesses. I am sure, world would be a healthier place then.