EDITORIAL: Olympic athletes deserve our support

Perhaps we just have to push all the corruption and scandal out of our minds

It should be about the athletes, the (usually) unheralded ones who don’t play on prime time TV and don’t have multi-million-dollar salaries that have driven families out of the professional fields and rinks.

The Olympics should be about people like Nanoose Bay high jumper Michael Mason and Parksville rower Kai Langerfeld, athletes who will be the focus of our coverage on the Rio Games that start soon. And of course Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell, the fastest politician in the country, a world record holder and multi-medal winner who will undoubtedly be part of Canada’s team at the Paralympics in Rio.

That’s who and what the Olympics should be about. Instead, politics and idiocy dominate.

The stories about Russia and state-sponsored doping are only the latest performance enhancing tales that have been exposed, adding to all the cheating, corruption and all-around malfeasance you have read previously.

Remember Ben Johnson before you condemn the Russians.

The awarding of the games is seemingly rife with scandal, if you believe the stories about how China (Bejing) and Russia (Sochi) got their games. This is curious, this greasing of the palms to get the games, considering they generally lose big bucks. The 1976 Montreal Olympics lost about $1 billion and Athens in 2004 lost a whopping $14 billion (all figures from Wikipedia.org).

The Summer OIympics always cost much more than their smaller cousin, the Winter Games, unless we’re talking about Big Man Putin and his Sochi extravaganza, which at $51 billion was the most expensive Olympic Games in history.

All of this seems to eclipse the real stories about real people. And it also adds to a cynicism that leads to indifference that leads to a loss of spotlight time for the hard-working athletes who dream of making it to the Olympics one day.

Somehow, every two years, the pageantry of the opening ceremonies and the drama that unfolds in the athletic events takes over and we forget about the side issues for a couple of weeks. However, we wonder how many people fall off the bandwagon and stop watching/cheering for our athletes because of all the scandal and corruption.

Most of these athletes — Mason, Langerfeld and Stilwell included — train hard for years in obscurity for little or no money. We will try to remember that — and not the money and scandals — when it comes time for Rio to begin on August 5.

— Editorial by John Harding