I often say to my friends that the International Olympic Committee is the worst sports association in the world, and I’m not entirely joking. I already vented about their stance on political dissent. I disagree, but I can see the argument there.
Completely terrible is the reason why the IOC reprimanded Norway’s cross-country skiing team: After a teammates brother died a day before the first Olympic races, the team decided to wear black armbands as a sign of grief and solidarity. The IOC sent the Norwegian Committee a stern letter, exhorting the cross-country skiers.
This isn’t even the first time a small sign of grief was too much for the heartless functionaries. Freestyle skiers and snowboarders were not allowed to wear stickers on their boards, skis, and helmets that remember Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died after a practice accident in 2012. Athletes like Australian snowboard star Torah Bright have worn these little signs of respect for a colleague and friend throughout the season.
It’s vile, really.
The lives of athletes aren’t filled with pure joy just because they worked hard to achieve the goal of competing in the Olympic games. Small signs of grief or political standpoints don’t hinder me in enjoying the amazing sport event. Sings of humanity – of joy, of disappointment – make me root for athletes competing for nations I otherwise don’t want to support. But these signs of humanity complicate the money making that really seems to be so central to this version of the Olympic Games.
These statements and actions by the IOC do spoil the winter games for me.
Bonus: Migrant workers who build the buildings for Sochi have been treated and paid poorly. There are even accounts that a significant number of migrant workers haven’t received any money yet, some are simply deported without pay. The IOC doesn’t care. Isn’t this what the worst sports association in the world looks like?