Corruption · IOC · Rio 2016

Discouragement of Olympic Proportions?

Winter Olympics! In less than one year! Are you ready? Are you excited?!

Yes…..and no.

Sure, I’m getting excited about the Winter Olympics. They’re so much fun to watch, and they’re more manageable to watch. They haven’t been in Asia in a long time, so I’m really looking forward to seeing South Korea’s spin on the Games. PyeongChang’s been gearing up, and they should be ready to go.

However.

There’s a lot of depressing Olympic news as well. First, Rio’s stadiums seem to be falling apart faster than usual, with venues in disrepair or abandoned. The Olympic Village apartments aren’t selling. There are supposedly plans to use venues, but I don’t think anyone’s really buying the government line anymore. It’s sad to see this happen–to know about the billions of dollars that have gone down the tubes in a country that’s still amazingly poor. The infrastructure promises? The hope that this would provide some opportunity just seems to be gone. With no Olympics, would things be different in Brazil?

The other depressing development–and to be very honest, this one really has me a bit down in the dumps about the Olympics in general–is all of the doping that’s still being uncovered. We’re not talking about people being stripped of medals and certificates from just the Rio Games, we’re talking about medals being stripped from Beijing. Eight years and two Olympics ago.

Yep, the IOC keeps samples for 8 years after a Games, in case better tests come along to detect previously undetectable substances. Guess what? They have. So far, there are 61 sanctions from Beijing and 40 from London. So far.

It seems that there are more notices that athletes are being sanctioned or stripped of their certificates/medals. It’s depressing to get these e-mails because with every one, history gets rewritten and the original event becomes less important. How so? Usain Bolt has had one of his medals revoked, thanks to a positive test by one of his relay teammates. So much for his triple-triple (3 gold medals in 3 Olympics)–unless an appeal is successful. With no triple-triple, all of the athletes’ effort, all of the hullabaloo and footage of these events and the countless press is all for naught. History’s wiped out–in fact, it’s not even worth tracking anymore–and fans are left not really knowing what to believe.

The other problem is the athletes who are elevated in the ranks years later. They miss out on their moment in the sun–but more importantly, they miss out on financial opportunities and training opportunities that could help their careers.

It’s frustrating–and honestly, it’s one of the elements that makes me care about the Olympics less. And I’m a person who gets The Fever! The IOC is trying, in a sense. It prevented some dopers from going to Rio, but it all seems too little, too late. At a time when interest in the Olympics is fading, aren’t there better ways to keep the competition legit?

 

Paralympics · Rio 2016

Paralympics Underway!

For the next 12 days, the Paralympics will be taking over a little part of Rio to compete for their medals. This edition of the Paralympics is in rough shape–and like an unwanted child, they’re getting a bit of shaft. See, since the Olympics didn’t do so well in terms of ticket sales, Rio doesn’t have the money for the Paralympics, so they’ve cut back on venues, seating and staffing….and the city and federal governments have had to step in with some emergency cash to the tune of $77 million ($46.3 million from Rio, $30.7 million from Brazil, according to CBS Sports). I think it’s safe to say that $77 million isn’t quite the amount that government officials had hoped to find when they looked between the couch cushions for all the extra money they could find.

While the Paralympics doesn’t have enough cash, it does have a new sculpture, one that the leader of the International Paralympic Committee is pretty stoked about, since it’s going to be an awesome selfie spot (no joke). It also apparently has growing ticket sales, which will help, since that and merch sales are going to be the saving graces to pay back the government, although it could just mean that Brazilians will be paying out of pocket multiple times to cover the cost of these Games.

Still, the athleticism we’re going to see will be pretty amazing, and I hope that the Paralympic Movement gets a bump from this effort. Bring on the Games!

Fun · Medals · Rio 2016

Predictions, Schmidictions

Remember when a whole bunch of people said a bunch of countries were gonna win a bunch of medals at the Olympics? And then a whole bunch of other countries weren’t going to win? Yeah, let’s start looking at that.

The Games have been over for a couple of weeks now, but that doesn’t mean that the results are final. Thanks to dopers, the results are never final. We’re still getting revised results from the Beijing Olympics, for crying out loud (here’s one example, published 14 days ago). It’s so bad that Olympic historian David Wallechinsky announced he’s no longer planning to put out updated versions of his Olympic history book because he’d be spending too much time updating past results. Rio’s already had one incident of medal-stripping, which means Kyrgyzstan has lost the only medal it won in Rio, a bronze in men’s weightlifting.

But it’s pretty safe to start looking at some of the predictions we rounded up before the Games. We’re going to do this over a few posts, as it takes a little time to tally up the numbers.

First off, Goldman Sachs. Goldman had predicted number of gold medals and overall total medals for the top 50. While they did say this year’s Games were difficult to model due to many of Russia’s athletes being banned, that really can’t explain the fact that they only managed to get both metrics right for a whopping two countries: Italy and Slovenia. They got four gold predictions right (that’s 8% accuracy), also correctly guessing Hungary and Denmark. For overall medal totals, they got five correct (10% accuracy), also correctly guessing Poland, Algeria and Georgia. If you look at 100 total datapoints, they got 9% correct.

Where did they go wrong? Well, they underestimated China’s fall and Great Britain’s gain. I think many of us did. China’s been a noted powerhouse, pouring tons of money into their Olympic sporting programs. However, according to the New York Times, this year’s team wasn’t quite the same. They were younger and perhaps more inexperienced, and the attitudes toward developing athletes have changed a bit.

On the other hand, Team GB is still benefiting from the the country’s massive investment in sport. While its 67 medals weren’t quite the number that UK Sport predicted (79), it did prove that competing on home turf in 2012 didn’t make them a one-hit wonder. The UK actually beat China in terms of number of gold medals and was only three behind them in the overall medal count.

Speaking of the host nation bump, Brazil got one, but it wasn’t quite to Goldman’s predictions–they got two more golds than predicted, but three fewer medals overall.

Where did they go right? The Goldman Sachs report did say that democratization of medals would be a thing–and they were right. A lot of small countries did win one or two medals…they just weren’t the ones that Goldman had thought would win.

So the big brains at Goldman weren’t quite so sharp, but Rio had some big upsets along the way too, like US women losing big in soccer and Japan women taking the badminton doubles gold. Those upsets make making predictions fun and interesting–and if that in and of itself was a sport, Goldman probably wouldn’t place very highly. At least this year.

Rio 2016 · Summer Olympics

Rio 2016: DVR Roulette

Yes, I’m still watching Rio footage. It’s kind of fun because I’m watching random competitions out of order, which I actually don’t mind. For example, today I watched some BMX preliminaries. Never mind that I’d already watched the finals on livestream–it was Olympic coverage!

Perhaps this would be annoying to some, but I’m having fun with it, especially since I’m focusing on sports I don’t get to see on a regular basis, since the US is a nation of baseball/football/basketball/hockey and not really a nation of badminton/handball/rowing/judo.

It’s also fun because even though the DVR guide says what’s taped, I don’t ever really know what I’m going to see. Click on a “diving” episode, and you get men’s gymnastics. Diving is supposedly showing up at some point, but over half of the episode is something else, including “fun” with Ryan Seacrest.

At any rate, it’s good background noise and a fun way to keep Rio alive for a little while longer, particularly since it’s pretty much impossible for any one person to watch all of the coverage they aired in real time. Our blogcasting center may have have been dismantled after the Closing Ceremonies, but Rio can still live on in our hearts.

 

Closing Ceremonies · Olympics · Rio 2016 · Uncategorized

Rio: Tchau e Obrigada

Closing Ceremonies

10:50 PM EDT

The show is over, the Flame is out. Tonight’s Closing Ceremonies was really lovely–a lot of dancing and celebration of Brazil, the athletes and the Olympics to come. Some good memories from a country that tried, even though it’s fallen on harder times. I hope Brazil gets a nice boost from this effort and that the rest of the world is influenced by its culture.

Onward to Tokyo 2020. A seriously cool handoff performance. I can’t wait to see what they deliver in four years!

8:48 PM EDT

The Tongan guy is back (in the background)! Why is this not being discussed on the broadcast?!?

Oops, we spoke too soon. They brought him up on stage to promote the Olympic Channel.

8:12 PM EDT

All good things must come to an end, and that’s what Rio 2016 has been, don’t you think? It’s been a good Games. Not a great one–though we’ve had tons of great athletic moments–but the issues overshadowing the organization and the operation have seemed to have too big of a shadow for the athletes to overcome.

But we have to say good-bye at some point, and I’m currently enjoying the lighting and musical spectacle they’re putting on. That’s all you really need, right?

Oh! And that kinetic sculpture with the flame looks so amazing in the stadium!

Diving · Rio 2016 · Uncategorized

Last Day (Sort of): More DVR’d Action

1:11 PM EDT

Men’s Diving

Say what you want about American commentators and their slant–I hear plenty about how American-focused and biased their coverage is–but you cannot say that about Cynthia Potter, who’s one of NBC’s team covering diving. She gets so excited about every great dive, no matter where the competitor is from. She’s fantastic at explaining little things the judges look for and what happens to make dives go bad. She makes diving even more fun to watch. Announcing is tough work, and she does it effortlessly.

Chen Aisen from China captured the gold in the 10m platform and did so magnificently–one absolutely perfect (across all judges) dive in the middle of the final round, and a final dive that was equally as stunning. I don’t understand quite how divers do it–and much like gymnastics, continue to develop more and more difficulty. I’m curious to see what will be standard by the next Olympics.

Freestyle Wrestling · Officiating · Rio 2016 · Uncategorized

The Last Friday (continued): A Little Ref Love

8:40 PM EDT

Men’s Wrestling

Quick poll:

You’re wrestling somebody, and a cut on his eye won’t stop bleeding. His blood is on your jersey. How grossed out are you?

Option A: A lot

Option B: Very

We’re watching the 74kg gold medal match between Russian Geduev (the bleeder) and Yazdani, an Irani who likes to somersault before each match. Match ends in a tie, and Yazdani wins because he scored last. Lots of challenge buddies are thrown, the Russian coach gets yellow carded. Geduev ends up with a massive head bandage for a chunk of the match.

7:45 PM EDT

Women’s Wrestling

Wait a sec…the male wrestling referees get cargo pants, and the females get regular khakis? What’s up with that?

The use of a pea whistle is a different story. I don’t know why the female referee I’ve seen uses one. The Fox 40 is much better.

OK, end of officiating geek out. Back to your regularly scheduled match.

Wait a sec. Those aren’t just cargo pants–they convert to shorts too!

The Boy: We need another female ref to know this [sexism] for sure. We’ve only seen one female ref. You don’t know if she’s just a messy eater.

Come on, female wrestling refs. Tell me you get decent pockets.

7:00 PM EDT – DVR at 100%

Women’s Wrestling

With the DVR going all day, I’ve managed to fill it again, so we’re backfilling the events. Wrestling. Women’s 53kg bronze medal match between  Sofia Mattsson of Sweden and Zhong X. of China. This one’s over so frickin’ fast–Mattsson just was so aggressive and just pinned her opponent within 29 seconds. Mattesson is so excited–and this is the best part–that she hugged the ref. The ref couldn’t help but smile. It’s nice when you get those moments of humanity.