The New Zealand Herald

I can’t wait for the Tokyo profit-driven circus to begin


Cognitive dissonance. This is the confused and startling space I’ll be occupying over the next two weeks if the IOC continues to place its precious money over another valued commodity, life.

Like most sports fans, I succumb to the shiny stuff, fall into line as a patriot and bask in the light of a phony god. I do this willingly even though I know the whole charade is built on questionab­le morals and an unholy quest for money.

In a week where the British succumb to their own brand of reckless intent by turning their entire populace into a conscious and willing mass super spreader with their freedom drive, the Olympics is set to be released on to a very suspecting public, laughing in the face of disease, trampling through a nation screaming ‘‘no’’, wallowing in denial like they wallow quadrennia­lly in their money bin of filthy lucre. Scrooge McDuck would be proud. This is what the once-proud amateur celebratio­n of sport has turned into, an obscene profit-driven circus, overseen by people who have as much empathy for the plight of humanity as the tone-deaf billionair­es who think their egodriven dalliances into thin air warrant celebratio­n. I’d be more impressed if Amazon paid tax.

The Olympic juggernaut has been successful­ly mining nations for whatever they can extract for decades. In its wake, carcasses of white elephants grimly rot away, a monolithic testament to a political id. A constant stream of newly minted Olympic sports distract us, there only for their ability to provide another revenue stream. The Olympic Games will continue to gorge on wellmeanin­g and complicit sports until it collapses under its own weight. Unless Covid-19 kills it first when the powers that be cede to the obvious, cancel the event, and are vaporised by TV networks and sponsors desperate not to go down with the financial Titanic.

We all know that money doesn’t talk, it screams through a loud hailer of monstrous proportion­s. I think we all know that sports like golf, tennis, football, and the like have no place at the Games — money of course being the sole driver behind the welcome to the Games for sports whose own pinnacle events trump any Olympic medal. We are aware that scurrilous nations and individual­s will go to great lengths to cheat their way to the dais. We know the suffocatin­g financial stresses placed on countries. We know that behind the gossamer-thin veneer of decency is a complex hall of mirrors, distractin­g us from ever-present corruption.

But we choose to ignore all of this because we love a good race.

When the curtain is raised, the lights flash and the starting pistol’s retort echoes across the planet, we temporaril­y suspend any long-held and lingering doubts we have.

We’re dazzled. Amazed and amused. We absolutely love it — a state of being the Olympic movement can predict and rely on with regularity.

As much as I struggle with the fiscal responsibi­lity of the Games, I too will temporaril­y suspend my distaste and ride the ‘coaster with everyone else.

Like the America’s Cup, a sporting event awash with controvers­y, as soon as the action starts we lay to rest our concerns and stare at the boats.

Then after two weeks of “look, it’s a bird’’ antics, it’s all over.

In this case, though, the two-week time span may well be as fanciful as the thought of holding them in the grips of Covid in the first place.

Cognitive dissonance, the Olympics’ best friend.

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