I can understand why people don’t like the Olympics, the games and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) included.
Cities that have the “honour” of hosting an Olympic games spend exorbitant amounts of money and according to a Sky News report, the 2012 Summer Olympics in London could be five times the original figure given when London was named host in 2005.
There is also criticism that the games have become commercialized. Valid concerns as they are, there are also the warm, fuzzy stories that the Olympics can bring.
Grand Forks Gazette WEEKENDER columnist Jim Holtz touched on his thoughts on why people enjoy watching the Olympics but on top of that, the personal stories of tragedy and triumph are what make the games great.
Most will remember the Canadian hockey teams winning gold in 2010 but there was also the story of figure skater Joannie Rochette, who lost her mother to a heart attack days before she competed, and still took home a bronze medal.
Fast-forwarding to the London 2012 games, there was the story of 31-year-old wrestler Carol Huynh from Hazelton, B.C. who took gold in 2008 and bronze this past games. Her family were refugees escaping Vietnam over 30 years ago and was sponsored by a Hazelton church.
There was Rosie MacLennan, who took gold in the trampoline for Canada. Her late grandfather Lorne Patterson was set to compete as a gymnast in the 1940 games in Tokyo, Japan but the games were cancelled due to the Second World War – he was a source of inspiration for her and she likely dedicated her medal to him.
Then there was the 2012 Canadian women’s Olympic soccer team, who some believe were cheated out of a gold medal because of officiating in a semifinal match against the U.S. – they bounced back to win bronze.
There is a lot not to like about the Olympics. Cost over-runs, commercialization, expensive tickets that everyone wants but no one can seem to get and then empty seats at the venues.
It’s wrong to judge the Olympics strictly on that, however. The stories of the athletes balance things out.
– Karl Yu is editor of the Grand Forks Gazette