Monday, March 19, 2018 -
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Does Colorado need the Olympics?

Listen to the winter Olympics promoters, and you’ll learn that never again will a single Coloradan pay a single cent in taxes. You won’t hear a word about values.

Has your computer been hit with one of those “surveys” about the Colorado attempt to secure the winter Olympics in 2026 or 2030? You are asked to choose between the best, the supreme, the ultimate and the dream. Those are the only possible choices presented by the promoters of the winter Olympics for Colorado.

Which financial boon do you prefer? The end of homelessness in Colorado? The widening of the I-70 corridor in the mountains? Fabulously beautiful infrastructure improvements? A community “investment fund”? Actually, you don’t have to choose. The Olympics promoters assure us that every one of these boons — and more — are Colorado’s merely for the asking. Merely for securing what it takes to be humanity’s ultimate prize: the Olympic Games.

Nary a word about traffic, about debt, about crowding, about white elephants . . . nary a word about values. These misleading “surveys,” disguised as civic high-mindedness, are empty of values. Here we are, in 2018. The US Olympic Committee is exposed as having aided and abetted perhaps the worst case of recorded serial sexual assault in history. The criminal is one of the Olympic trainers’ own doctors, the infamous Dr. Larry Nassar of Michigan, now serving more than one de facto life sentence. Here we are, in 2018, and the Colorado promoters of the winter Olympics for this state are radio silent on the anti-values the Olympics has engendered.

These Olympics promoters manufacture a huge bubble for themselves, as if the Olympics were a bastion of values; as if that were a given. Yes, aided and abetted serial sexual harassment. Have you ever heard of a rule that forbad the presentation of a complaint about sexual abuse? That’s the US Olympic Committee for you. Forget the serious investigation of such a complaint; the American Olympic rule, rooted in the gymnastic committee and ignored by the US committee, made it virtually impossible for any victim, however badly and repeatedly abused, to come forward.

So many young women suffered. This was the price for their dream. And now we have Colorado dancing around a possible Olympics as if all this is just some minor, regrettable development that is not inherent to the system.

Yes, we are as thrilled as anyone to watch the current winter Olympics and marvel at the talent, the sportsmanship, the competitiveness, the triumphs and the failures. But pardon us if our thrill has become a bit, actually more than a bit, jaded. We now know that in the last Olympics Russia systematically doped its athletes. That is why so many of them won. Doping is part of the Olympic system; and if that is resolved, then sexual harassment and assult come into the system; and if they are resolved, some other major, tawdry development will stain the system. It is inevitable, since there is one unchanging stain on the Olympics as it has devolved. It is presented as the best of “amateur” talent, but on that score the Olympics are, at least in part, fraudulent. Nothing will stop, if not this country then another, for doing whatever it takes to push its “amateurs” to the top.

Many, perhaps most, “amateur” Olympics athletes are paid, even as professionals are allowed to compete, the only difference between the “amateurs” and the “professionals” being the sums. The magic of the amateur athlete is gone, save for a few shining exceptions — the exceptions that prove the rule.

One country pays its athletes and they excel, so another country does the same just to keep up, and around it goes. So the thrill of watching the wondrous physical achievements is hardly unvarnished. The thrill comes in a context of anti-values, which the promoters of the winter Olympics for Colorado do not even address.

Even on the basis of the economic pitch alone, no fair representation of pubic opinion in Colorado will be ascertained by these “polls,” so slanted in favor of the Olympics that there is no room for an honest answer. Not to mention, there is a hefty track record of cities who spent billions — that’s a b — to secure the Olympics, then were left with huge holes in essential public services. Their money went for glamour, not for the people. Take Greece. The International Olympic Committee walked away with $985 million; Greece walked away bankrupt. Colorado needs this?

It really makes no difference whether the Olympic expenses are put together through “public private partnerships,” since all that private money is potential philanthropy squandered.

And for what? For a city’s name. A city’s or a state’s reputation. A PR boost. A place on the international map.Well, guess what, Colorado already occupies such a place. A high one indeed. There are few places in the world that can match Colorado’s reputation as one of the most beautiful places on the planet. And one of the friendliest. Our reputation for livability, however, is quickly nosediving. Colorado’s livability is being squandered by unplanned, unrestrained, unwise growth. The last thing this state needs is a huge stimulus for more of the same. One Olympics would be five Amazon headquarters. Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm was right when he lobbied Colorado to reject the Olympics for 1976; his point of view is doubly right today.

Don’t let all of the unsubstantiated hyperbole about the mystical benefits of the winter Olympics fool you. Colorado would be had. Not to mention, we would become an instrument in the promotion of false values. Let that dubious distinction fall to someone else. Let the Olympics clean up its act.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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