Is the "Olympic spirit" still alive and well in 2016?

Article published on Aug. 5, 2016
Article published on Aug. 5, 2016

The Olympic Games get underway today in Rio de Janeiro, but the run-up to the event has been overshadowed by protests at the torch relay, news of unsanitary living conditions in athletes' quarters and the debate over banning Russian athletes from competing following a doping scandal. Are the Olympic medals starting to lose their shine?

A chance to overcome prejudice - Trouw, Netherlands

The Olympic Games may have lost some of their lustre but sport still builds bridges, Trouw believes: "The 2016 games are beginning at a time when attacks, growing international tensions, economic pressure and ethnic and religious conflicts dominate the headlines and the scandal over Russia's systematic doping programme is still reverberating... Sadly, the idea that clean games are an illusion is a fact for athletes and spectators. Just as it is an illusion that the games will turn Rio into a safe and friendly city... But watching the athletes at the games offers more than just a narrow perspective of the power and speed of the human body. The games open up a broader perspective, a chance to climb out of the communication trenches of prejudice. That, too, is a form of sporting ability." (05/08/2016)

A positive side to the scandals - Savon Sanomat, Finland

It would be a good thing if the many scandals had the effect of downsizing the Games, Savon Sanomat believes: "Many sports fans have made it clear that the mood is extremely subdued in the run-up to the games. But that can also have positive effects. Because if the number of spectators drops the big sponsors - who are already starting to have second thoughts about the Olympics' image - will also disappear. A lack of money would be the best incentive for the International Olympic Committee and the sporting community to take action against the current abuses. Then rather than letting the budget swell from year to year, the Winter and Summer Olympics could be organised on a smaller scale." (05/08/2016)

An advertisement for problematic countries - Le Jeudi, Luxembourg

The spirit of the Olympic Games is also harmed by the fact that a growing number of countries use the event to polish their image, Le Jeudi comments: "Nothing is left of the euphoria in 2009 when Rio was named to host the Summer Olympic Games. It has been replaced by many worries... Perhaps it's time to stop holding the Games - and the Football World Championships - which have become commercial events and showcases for countries looking for prestige. Brazil wanted the games to ensure its prosperity and reinforce its status as a regional power. The motives of Russia and Qatar [hosts of the Fifa World Cup in 2018 and 2022], by contrast, are less pleasing. For that reason the time has come to invent a postmodern form of the Olympic Games. With or without the IOC." (05/08/2016)

An instrument of the rich and powerful - Avgi, Greece

The Olympic organisers have done everything wrong and their dealings with Russia are no exception, Avgi believes: "Today is the day of the ceremonial opening of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. In the Rio of opulence and never-ending favelas. In Rio, where most of the money for these Games ended up in the pockets of the oligarchs, just as it did with the 2004 Games in Athens. Of all the large projects that were supposed to demonstrate the integrity of the Games only a small number will actually improve the daily lives of residents... Like many others before them, these Games are not only marked by the financial risks they'll leave behind. They are also being used by the US - with Britain's support - to further isolate Russia politically. Russia has been assigned the role of the dangerous rival." (05/08/2016)

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