Olympic ideals don't match up to reality

Although the IOC cannot be blamed for choosing Berlin for the site of the 1936 Olympics in 1931 (since Adolf Hitler did not come to power until 1933), its decision not to move the Games after the Nazi takeover hardly cultivated peace and harmony. No fewer than 114 anti-Semitic laws had already been promulgated by 1936, yet the chairman of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, vigorously opposed moving or boycotting the Games. …

Add to this the IOC’s willingness to award the 1980 Olympics to Moscow despite the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the 2008 Olympics to Beijing despite its gross human rights abuses and subjugation of Tibet, and you have an organization that is happy to allow any totalitarian power to showcase itself, burnishing its image in the best possible light for the world’s media. Whatever else it may be, this is not promotion of “a spirit of community and world leadership,” as Mr. Rogge, successor to Brundage and Samaranch, today tries to claim. …

Yet today the Koreas are as far apart as ever, as are India and Pakistan. And neither have the IOC’s much-vaunted “sports partnerships” with Congo, Liberia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic or Somalia “served as starting points for development,” as was promised. The Olympic Games are a fabulous occasion for seeing who can jump and throw the farthest and run and swim the fastest. In that nothing can equal them. When they claim to be anything more than that, they swiftly veer into utter cant.