Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Flaming Out: On that post-Brazil Olympics report

Flaming Out: On that post-Brazil Olympics report
by rick olivares

There is a report on ESPN’s website about Rio de Janeiro post-2016 Olympics that was published last August 10. Written and reported by Wayne Drehs and Mariana Lajolo, the story titled “After the Flame” depicts the failure of the Games (as well as the World Cup that preceded it) to lift Brazil into new heights. This isn’t the only report on post-Olympics Brazil. There are lots. Google them.

Sure there are lasting memories of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, the fantastic opening program, and many other highlights from the Games. But they don’t begin to tell the whole story. As the report sums up, “What’s left behind? A city shrouded by corruption, debt, and broken promises.”

In many ways, the International Olympic Committee should also be blamed for this. The Rio Games to begin with had all sorts of problems all the way to the Games themselves. And in hindsight, it was an expensive event with the gains very much short-term.

The Athletes Villages that were supposed to be converted into private condominiums are empty. Competition centers have been vandalized, are in a state of disarray, and are littered with trash and rodent feces. Even the Maracaña Stadium has been the victim of thieves since it was shut down due to an unpaid US $9500,000 bill!

Were the Rio Games nothing more than a white elephant?

It is sad in every which way for such a proud, talented, and bountiful country.

In the aftermath of the Rio Games where the organizing committee asked the International Olympic Committee for financial aid, the IOC said “no”.

When you look at many of the world’s governing sports bodies, it’s the same story – awarding international events to countries ill-equipped to stage something of this magnitude. Why were they awarded in the first place? In the spirit of developing sports? For votes for positions of power? For vast sums of money? All of the above?

These sports bodies must also be made culpable for their actions and decisions. I am certainly glad that FIFA officials were arrested for their corruption. Law enforcement agencies and governments should also look at the IOC and other sports bodies for their hand in these events. For too long have they operated with impunity. They have this stipulation that when there is government intervention in a sports federation’s affairs, they will be suspended.

I am not suggesting that the IOC is to blame for Brazil’s woes post-Olympics. That falls on the local organizing committee. But what in the reports did not say all this was bound to happen?

All one had to do was monitor everything that was going on with the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that was a disaster of titanic proportions on and off the pitch. Whatever promises were made for development post-World Cup never materialized.

I recall former FIFA President Sepp Blatter wondering – and this is on record – if world football’s governing body should revisit its awarding policies. Damn right they should.

Rio isn’t the first city to experience massive problems post-Olympics. For years the Olympics were a losing proposition. That is until the 1984 Los Angeles Games – the most financially successful and perhaps best-organized games of the modern era.

Most Olympic Games have their share of problems big and small. It will happen. But the Games should be looked at as a whole. Can this city mount it? If China won the right to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup because of its merits – they have the current infrastructure to mount the games, better transportation system, and others? Why can’t others get it right?

After the problems of Rio, there is concern about Qatar hosting the FIFA World Cup. Why was it awarded to that country in the first place? Votes? Money? A seat on the Executive Board? Or a sincere desire to grow the game?

If people are sincere then decisions for hosting rights must be sensible, rational, and based on fact and track record. Potential is just that… potential. Promises are just that promises.

Just ask the people and the athletes of Brazil.

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