Early Friday morning, news began to filter out to various outlets that the Rio lab that will be testing for drug use at the 2016 Summer Olympics has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Sadly, it seems that at nearly every Olympics Games in recent memories, the lead-up has been characterized not by inspiration stories of amateur athletes finally getting that one shot for gold, but rather the administration of the events.
- 2014 Sochi – Occurred amidst the Crimean controversy.
- 2012 London – Citizens couldn’t get tickets to the biggest and most enticing events because of the poor allocation system. But they could definitely pay taxes to fund the Games.
- 2010 Vancouver- The Canadians just did things right…but for us on the West Coast, why were we watching the Downhill on a 5-hour delay when we were literally a two hour drive from the Games?
- 2008 Beijing – A good Games, but the Opening Ceremony was almost too good. It was all people talked about for months.
- 2006 Turin – Not bad except that you still had Mr. Berlusconi running a corrupt government.
- 2004 Athens – Greece has still not recovered from the economic setbacks of that time period.
Can we not just celebrate the athletes? Are we not permitted simply to laud the unifying spirit that the Olympics provides? No; for we aren’t even worried about the athletes cheating now – we are worried about the testing agencies cheating. Layer upon layer of administration, more and more filters obscuring the pure and unadulterated essence of global competition and international cooperation.
This is not about red tape or bureaucracy but where our attention is focused. It can either be focused on politics – I mean, let’s be honest, we get plenty of that elsewhere – or it can be focused on something that takes place once every two years, for just two weeks. For those two weeks we can cheer together, high-five together, appreciate what pure hard work means together. We can cry as athletes collapse with exhaustion and cry when they get back up – not to win but to finish.
We don’t pretend to be anything close to Olympianic at Kazi. But we can try, in our own small way, to contribute to that same essence – that same spirit with which all of us identify. We will be cheering for the Americans but we won’t begrudge anyone cheering for their own – as long as it isn’t WADA, the World Athletic Distraction Agency.