Time for the IOC to grow some balls…

10 August 2013 Comments 4

The British actor and writer, Stephen Fry is a hero of mine. Not only is he an extremely talented, funny, self-effacing public figure, he is also a sports-tragic and very eloquent with an ability to provoke discussion on a wealth of topics and issues. Last week, he highlighted a current issue which I immediately thought reflected a much wider problem that’s prevalent in sport as a whole.

In an open letter, Stephen called for a ban on next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi because of Russia’s ‘anti-gay’ law which, among other similar restrictions, prohibits public displays of affection from same sex couples. The argument that Stephen brilliantly articulated, included a reference to the Olympic movement’s core principle of integration and unity being compromised by going to Sochi with such a law in place and the privileged senior members of the IOC standing idly by and doing little or nothing about it.

And there’s the problem. The very people who represent the IOC’s values of unequivocal global unity and who flaunt their status by wearing their very important Olympic blazers, don’t really give a stuff. As long as their first class air ticket is secured and their five-star hotel room has a comfy bed, there’s no need to rock the boat.

How long will it be before the world says ‘enough is enough’? How many times do sports administrators have to illustrate their disdain for the people they’re supposed to represent before the penny finally drops?

In the modern world, sport and politics are inextricably linked. Remember how sport united the world in the seventies to isolate South Africa while it continued to impose its appalling apartheid laws? It sent a powerful message to a nation that their domestic bigotry wouldn’t be tolerated and eventually, sport helped to change the South African landscape forever, for the good.

The irony in the case of Sochi is it’s the politics of self-preservation that means the IOC administrators aren’t apparently prepared to act. Sure, they’ve asked for “clarification” from the Russians on their anti-gay law, but it’s not about right and wrong. What if the answer isn’t acceptable to the billion plus worldwide who hold the Olympic movement’s principles in high regard? Will the IOC make a stand and say ‘we’re not coming’? I very much doubt it.

Once you’ve got your very important blazer, you make sure you hang onto it for dear life. Rule number one is pull your head in and don’t challenge your peers because they might not vote for you next time. To hell with the rest, the only way you’re going to hand back your very important blazer is when you exchange it for a bigger size…..

To be fair, it’s not as if the IOC is alone is it? Right now we’re watching the despotic President of world cycling, Irishman Patrick Mugabe, do everything he can to keep his job without a care for the fact he’s making his sport a laughing stock through his duplicitous, conniving desperate attempts to change the rules to suit himself. And what about FIFA? A couple of years ago, they surprised everyone by choosing Qatar (Qatar for God’s sake!!!) as hosts for the World Cup in 2022 and now, surprise surprise, Sepp Blatter thinks that maybe there’s a problem because Qatar can be a bit hot in the summer. Aaaarrrrrrrrgggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh

I know for a fact that the voting members were provided a report at the time on each bidding nation. The notes on Qatar included reference to potential dangers caused by the seasonal temperature, both for the players and the spectators. So why oh why, did FIFA’s Executive Committee vote for Qatar in the first place? Not difficult to surmise….

When sports administrators are appointed to positions of power the world expects them to define and develop international competition for the benefit of both sport and for the whole of society, as opposed to acting for themselves. Unfortunately, a number of the administrators see promotion to blazer status as a ‘reward’ and the IOC’s refusal to confront the Russians over their appalling law is a glaring example of collective self-preservation. The people in power across world sport are simply not prepared to put their head above the parapet.

General Sir Anthony Hogmanay Melchett would not have approved.

PS. Bravo to England for winning the Ashes. I’m not exactly overjoyed from an Australian perspective and certainly wish we’d been able to see out the third test without the weather interruption, but England outplayed us convincingly in the first two tests as well as the fourth. Congratulations but watch out Poms, we’re coming back and soon you’ll be in our backyard. Bring it on.

PPS. If you are interested in Stephen Fry’s open letter in full, here ’tis:
http://www.stephenfry.com/2013/08/07/an-open-letter-to-david-cameron-and-the-ioc/

4 comments on "Time for the IOC to grow some balls…"

  1. Mark Quittner MrPhysio+ Healesville on 13 August 2013

    Thanks Jaimie,
    Well written as usual. Hypocrisy is a poison in all human interaction – as well as the best pointer highlighting where trust has been murdered. Resisting hypocrisy in all its forms should be compulsory for everyone, however, sadly most people sit back and let the whistleblowers to carry on the fight and cop the backlash. As a whistleblower myself, the lack of support is frustrating but does not diminish the need to continue.
    Keep up your good work shining light in dark places.
    Mark Quittner MrPhysio+

  2. Evan on 13 August 2013

    Well and bravely said sir. It is unfortunately a not rare event that if I state the quintessential principle of equality, non-discrimination, and equal rights, including gender, race, ethnicity, and the LGBT community in discussions of sports that many respond go away gay lover wimp pussy, and other horrid responses.

    So well said. Unfortunately the confluence of sports, politics, and religion obfuscate the universal rights of human beings, ironic to say the least regarding the olympics.

    Let us remember Martin Luther King stating we are all brothers and sisters wishing to raise our children in a decent world of equality for all.

    Pa McHorrid however, was the person who went to apartheid South Africa and raced illegally. Thus nothing has changed.

  3. Skippy on 13 August 2013

    Love your following me , in describing phat the rat , as that ” dear leader mugabe “! Seems so many others have jumped on the bandwagon ,with their description of that english chump Jim burn , who told the IOC , their Boycott of Sth Africa in the 1970s was worthless , as described in parrabuddy.blogspot !

    Part of the current problem is that Jacques Rogge is about to stand down , from the job that he has done very little with , whilst he has had tenure . Rocking the boat at this lime may even create a ” Legacy ” , something he has worked hard at avoiding ? Those seeking election to his job , seem to have pasts mired in controversy , that being the politest description !

    1936 was an occasion when the IOC managed to show some leadership , but even then i doubt that they had the guts to cancel those Berlin Games ? It would be a disaster for Sport if Sochi was cancelled , BUT , how else could the MESSAGE be served and recognised , considering Putin’s pals would have invested $50 BLLION and received nil return , due to their Government’s disdain for ” Human Rights “?

    Written Jacques Rogge several times about him creating his Legacy , but no acknowledgement , wonder what is needed to cause him to wake up to the quandary he is creating ?

    Splatter has just seen his ” brown paper bag policy ” blow up in his face , but with 9 years to sort a demonstratably corrupt decision , he is likely to be long gone before sh#rt hits fan ?

  4. Waltzing Matilda on 13 August 2013

    Congratulations Jaimie. If only we have more leaders like yourself with your sized balls! But seriously, if only more CEO’s/ Company owners spoke out.

    Thank you! Carry on!