As the days are counting down to the 32nd Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, the 128th year of modern Olympics, the international community starts again to keep eyes on this huge event which has more than two hundred competing national teams. Undoubtedly, the Olympic Games is regarded as one of the grandest and most important sports events in the world. However, with more and more negative news about the Olympic Games , people worldwide increasingly question the quality of this event: Is the Olympic Games correctly promoting its core values? As stated by the World Olympians Association (n.d.), there are three core values of Olympic: Excellence, Friendship and Respect. The first one, “Excellence” refers to try one’s best until the end and enjoy participating in the games. “Friendship”, secondly, is the striving reciprocal understanding of individuals from all the nations through sports regardless of race, gender, religion and political views. The last one, “Respect”, emphasizes the importance of fair plays, respecting rules and regulations, and preventing any unethical behavior. Unsurprisingly, many people still approve the promotion of these three core values. Yet, the Olympics is not able to effectively promote its core value: participants’ cheating behaviors and negative impacts on athletes’ health.
What are the core values of Olympism and the Olympic Movement? (n.d.). World Olympians Association. Retrieved from https://olympians.org/woa/olympism/.
In conclusion, although the Olympics originally intended to carry forwards the core values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect, the progress is definitely unsuccessful. Firstly, the doping and bribery scandals from participants to IOC have made the Olympics a public-known unclean sports event. Secondly, numerous athletes are suffering from both physical and psychological illness as a result of working for the Olympic Games. It is undeniable that the Olympics might economically assist some athletes in realizing their dreams. Nevertheless, most of the professional sports players are still unable to make enough deposits to pay their training fee. To have a fairer game, IOC should have an internal turbulence which expels and severely punishes the bribe-taking members. Also, the standard of doping detection needs to be stricter, and the positive testers should be banned from competing in any international sports event for the rest of their lives.
The first reason why the Olympics did not properly develop its core value is sportsman’s cheating. One of the most serious and common ways of cheating is doping. Some athletes took prohibited substances which could stimulate energy and enhance their performance to obtain better places. A typical example of doping is the Canadian sprinter, Ben Johnson’ case. On September 24, 1988, Seoul Olympics, Johnson had broken the world record with 9.79 seconds in the men’s 100m final. Whereas, after three days, Johnson was deprived of his medal, and his records were deleted because a positive steroid stanol was detected in his urine sample (Adams, 2012). Although as a professional athlete, Johnson had clearly known that he was violating rules and could very likely to be found, canceled grades and penalized, he still chose to take drugs with a fluke mind for winning a title of Olympic Champion. Athletes who doped like Johnson have not only offended rules but also other innocent participants. Daley (1999) declares that doping scandals of Olympic medalists cast a shadow of skepticism over sports. Another way of cheating existing in the Olympic Games for a long time is bribery. Some sport teams and national representatives give referees benefits to make judges favor them in the Olympic games. When the final bell rang, all audience looked forward to Jones’s winning the Olympic gold medal. Three of the five judges, Ugandans, Uruguays and Moroccans, however, claimed the Korean fighter, Park, as the champion. When the referee held up the arm of the Korean, he turned to Jones and said, “I can’t believe they are doing this.” Subsequently, an IOC investigation found that executives of the Republic of Korea regaled all of the three cunning officials before the game (Daley, 1999). This is not the only case of bribing judges. According to a confidential IOC report on the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal, bribery in the Olympics lasts several decades. And this report uncovers that no less than 16 IOC members were suspected and fired due to involvement in the incident (Aschwanden, 2012). Even in the official organization of Olympic, not a few people have been bribed; therefore, it is hard to trust the fairness of the Olympic Games. In short, the cheating behaviors of both athletes and referees which lead to unfair skepticism, and clean athletes robustly demonstrate the failure of developing core values of Olympics.
Another factor that has generated the Olympics’ failure to raise its core values is its negative influence on athletes’ health. The main meaning of promoting sports is to help people maintain a healthy body. On the contrary, the Olympic Games have made a large number of participants get injured and produced negative impacts on their physical health. The number of injuries and illness incidences happened during the 17-day PyeongChang Winter Olympic Game is a strong evidence. “Results In total, 2914 athletes (1210 women, 42%; 1704 men, 58%) from 92 NOCs were observed for occurrence of injury and illness. NOC and PyeongChang 2018 medical staff reported 376 injuries and 279 illnesses, equaling 12.6 injuries and 9.4 illnesses per 100 athletes over the 17-day period. Altogether, 12% of the athletes incurred at least one injury and 9% at least one illness” (Soligard et al., 2019). Comparing to(do you mean “compared with” ?), 3.5 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers of Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses annually in 2018 in USA (United States Department of Labor, 2019), the statistics reveal a high percentage of injuries and illness in only a half month period as a result of participating in the Olympics. On account of Olympics’ being regarded as the biggest sports event globally, athletes will be desperate for good rankings and thus take no count of health and safeness, and accordingly more competitors get injured and ill. The Olympics not just increases risk of physical health but also mental illness. From Michael Phelps’ frankly narrating his fight against depression after the 2012 London Olympics, to Lindsey Vonn’s candid attitude in describing his decade-long struggle with illness, more and more athletes are talking about their often-hidden struggles with mental health issues. Current scientific research indicates that mental health disorders affect 35% of elite athletes at certain stages of their careers. According to a report from the Olympic official website, 35% of elite athletes at certain periods of their career lives are affected by mental illness (Olympic News, 2019). Since the Olympics is the most important stage for most professional sportsmen, in order to win honor for countries, they devote a lot of energy and time in daily training, and also have to gain spotlight and face pressure from the public society, so they are more likely to have more stressful lives than normal people. Hence, Olympians are easier to suffer from psychological disorders. To sum up, the valid data of illness and injuries indicate the adverse impacts on both Physical and Mental health of athletes for the Olympic Game, and therefore illustrate why core values of the Olympics are not successfully boosted.
Yet, some coverage argues that the promotion of Olympic core values is successful. They assert that the surplus from holding the Olympics has endowed the development of local sports teams and helped young sportsmen realize their Olympic dreams. According to the report of LA84 Foundation (2017), 1.7 million of grants of LA84, a major sponsor of young athletes in Southern California, have been subsidized to 26 local youth sports organizations until 2014. For the financial profits gained from the 1984 Olympic Games, LA84 has funded over 220 million dollars in return for the hosting communities, and this investment has contributed to the qualification of some members of LA84-funder programs for the Olympic Games. Therefore, they conclude that core values of the Olympics are well progressed since hosting the Olympic Games has played a big part in supporting local athletes. Indeed, the investment in juvenile competitors from the surplus after the Olympic Games should not be neglected, but it is far not enough to solve the financial problems of all athletes. Evan Morgenstein, CEO and president of Premier Management Group, claims that less than 5% of Olympic participants are receiving direct sponsors from corporations. In fact, most of the ordinary athletes are not better off. They have to take on part-time jobs in order to afford their own training fee. The data of Track and Field Foundation reveal that no more than 50 percent of top 10 American track and field athletes can make above 15,000 dollars a year by their professions (Wharton, 2012). Obviously, the grants offered to participants due to the Olympic Games are trivial compared with the cost of their sports careers. Consequently, the funding for young athletes is unable to demonstrate that the Olympics can succeed in carrying forward its core values.
Adams, G. (2012). Tarnished gold: Some of the ‘great’ Olympics cheats. Independent.
Aschwanden, C. (2012). The Top Athletes Looking for an Edge and the Scientists Trying to Stop Them.
Daley, K. (2011). Olympic Games: IOC report shows `decades of bribery’. Independent.
（The author’s name）. (2019). Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses (Annual) News Release United States Department of Labor
Soligard, T et al. (2019). Sports injury and illness incidence in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games: a prospective study of 2914 athletes from 92 countries. BMJ Journals.
Tackling mental health in Olympic sport (2019). Olympic News. Retrieved from https://www.olympic.org/news/tackling-mental-health-in-olympic-sport.
The Tricky Game of Olympic Sponsorship. (2012)). Wharton. Retrieved from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-tricky-game-of-olympic-sponsorship/.
Olympic Legacy Thrives With Latest Round of LA84 Grants. (2017). LA84 Foundation. Retrieved from https://la84.org/olympic-legacy-thrives-with-latest-round-of-la84-grants/.