When we gather around the watercooler discussing the Olympic games today here in Ireland, according to the media we are meant to be focusing on two topics…Thomas Barr’s agonising 4th place finish in the hurdles despite setting another personal best time, or the ticket-touting scandal involving Irishman Pat Hickey, President of the IOC.
On the Barr story, fine. Of course we should be celebrating actual sporting success. While I haven’t really paid much mind to these games, naturally I’m happy when it’s Irish men and women doing so well. Personally my favourite story is that of Annalise Murphy, mostly because I had the pleasure of meeting her at a rugby event in the Aviva Stadium not long after the 2012 Olympics. I found her post-event interview a joy to watch because it was so obvious just how happy she was with her medal and that’s what it’s all about from the sporting side of things.
But when it comes to scandals, I couldn’t give a damn about ticket touting. So a few people at the top were trying to make a quick buck here and there. What of it.
Why the indifference? Stories like this one from the Huffington Post entitled The Olympics Are Always A Disaster For Poor People.
Displacement of the urban poor is a hallmark of the modern Olympics, a virtual certainty rather than an accidental occurrence.
In fact, the major beneficiaries of the Olympics are the local and international developers in charge of these projects, as well as the host city’s wealthy residents. The poor lose out.
Sorry if my “bleeding heart liberal”-ness pricks your conscience too much here but I feel that this is what we should ALWAYS be talking about when it comes to the Olympic Games, or any major sporting event for that matter – soccer’s World Cup isn’t much better.