By Eddy Montilla.
“What do you want to do right now?” The journalist asked. “I want to go back to Japan immediately!” The Japanese judoka said after winning a gold medal during the first days of The Olympic Games in Brazil, an answer that highlights the major problems facing sports today. He looked like a typical worker at the end of the day: “It’s six o’ clock, I finish my job, I go home,” with the huge difference that this athlete probably goes back to his country with a medal, fame and money waiting for him. At no time, did he talk about observing other competitions, encourage his friends, enjoy what it was supposed to be his most important event, etc. Later, people booing during a volleyball match between Japan and Brazil and an Egyptian judoka who refused to shake the hand of his Israeli opponent are enough examples to understand how the commercialization and politicization of sports are making sporting directors, coaches, athletes and spectators swim in “dirty waters”. These days, people do not see two remarkable athletes trying to show their magnificent sports qualities by giving their very best, but a war between two countries represented by two athletes. Rather than the competition itself, the countries’ rank in the medal table seems to be all that matters.
Sportsmen have turned into wage-earing athletes who try to win at all costs since it would mean a new house given by a president or much more money into their bank account. This way of thinking has led to an increase of the number of athletes found guilty in anti-doping controls. The shameful Russia’s doping scandal during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics corroborates that the Olympic Games are business, to some extent, dirty business in which corruption walks freely bribing people from the International Olympic Committee to coaches and athletes with money.
The real and pure sport is dying or, perhaps, it would be better to say that it is being killed by the illicit. If we do not tackle the problem at its root today, none sport will be worth seeing tomorrow. A possible solution to this problem could be that athletes do not represent their respective countries, but themselves. Thus, the Olympic Games could get the once-respected spirit back and athletes would not have to live with the struggling mixed feeling, half shame half pride of holding around their neck a dubiously awarded medal.
This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion with Eddy Montilla.
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