Monday, 25 July 2016


So there’ll be no blanket ban on Russian athletes competing in Rio; the baton has been passed instead to individual federations to make decisions about their own sports. They’ll have to be quick, since the games start in just a few days.

My faith in the integrity of Olympic sports has been ebbing away for years. If you can’t take the results at face value, then it’s hard to maintain an interest in even the high-profile events. Years ago I wrote about splitting the games into two: ‘drugs-free’ and ‘drugs-enabled’. In the latter category the athletes would be able to take all the drugs they wanted... but to claim their medals they would have to be alive, well and able to climb the podium unaided. No posthumous medals would be awarded. My idea was only a joke, but I’ve heard something similar being suggested quite recently.

The Olympic Games are insanely expensive to stage, and all for less than three weeks of competition. Get it wrong - like Montreal in 1976 or Athens in 2004 - and the city may be paying off the debt for generations to come. And the talk of “legacy” is so much hot air. All over the world there are empty stadia, surplus to sporting requirements and rotting away. What a waste!

If I was king of the world I’d stop awarding the games to a different city every four years. It’s time for the Olympic caravan to come to a halt. I know the perfect venue for a scaled-down sporting festival. Olympia, in Greece (the clue’s in the name). We could get back to simple events: running, jumping and throwing things (so no golf or dressage or synchronised swimming), with the victors being crowned with a wreath of laurel leaves. Competing in the nude? I don’t know; I haven’t thought it through yet…

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