The Olympics Charter states as follows:
“The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries… [The IOC acts] to take action to strengthen the unity of the Olympic Movement, to protect its independence, to maintain and promote its political neutrality and to preserve the autonomy of sport… [and] to act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement.”
Over the decades, tainted by the flow of money, the IOC has become a deeply corrupt organization that violates its own principles for the preservation of its current purpose: profit. Ostensibly an international non-governmental organization, and a non-profit, it has increasingly become degraded by its upper echelon leadership who seek to instrumentalize the IOC to personally enrich its employees at the expense of the world, and to the detriment of the founding principles of internationalism and sportsmanship.
The first cities to host the modern Olympics never expected to see a profit, the games were manageable and small, publicly funded, and hosted as a source of pride for the cities. The 1960s and 1970s saw violence surround the Olympics and an increasing trend of cost overruns that made some cities who had won their bids eventually reject hosting the games. Montreal’s 1972 games, expected to cost $124 million, ended up costing the city $1.5 billion, 1100% over budget, taking nearly 30 years to pay off. The games have become more expensive, more demanding, and the countries who vie for them tend to be cash rich, and as it appears increasingly evident, corrupt.
Since the 1980’s when Spaniard former youth-fascist Juan Antonio Samaranch took the reigns of the organization, the IOC has seen its process morph and become less sports centric than spectacle and cash cow. Viewing rights, corporate sponsorships, and cash payments are more important than the games themselves, or the values of the olympics.
Besides the extravagant pay packages for employees of what is supposed to be a not-for-profit organization, the IOC has become characterized by its disgusting bidding war process, where IOC employees can extract “rent” in the economic sense from bidding countries. Bribery has become commonplace. Non cash benefits came to characterize the cities bid efforts, from ski trips and meals, to paying college tuition for employees children, and plastic surgery for their spouses; this describes the tactics used to bid for the 2002 games alone. The leader at the time, Juan Antonio Samaranch, himself admitted to accepting bribes from bidding countries, but said that it was acceptable to receive thousands of dollars in gifts because he didn’t, “take part in the voting and the elections.”
One official came forward and said that Amsterdam offered prostitutes to officials in 1986 during the bidding process, and he witnessed two officials accepting them.
After the FBI’s involvement and supposed closed-room reforms when these allegations came to light in 2002, the corruption has not ceased.
The 2016 Rio bid chief alleges that payments were made for that countries bidding process in 2009, with IOC member Lamine Diack accepting cash for his vote. A mysterious $2 million USD payment was made into his son, Massata Diack’s account two days before the vote, amongst broader payments which may have exceeded more than $10 million USD.
Incredibly, the 2013 process for Tokyo’s bid saw the 2020 bidding committee transfer $1.5 million dollars to an account also linked with the very same Massata Diack, tainting a second bid process after the supposed reforms.
It has now even extended to the sports themselves. 2013 saw a cheating scandal involving qualification tests for judges, with IOC exam proctors alleged involvement, for one of the least popular sports in the olympics, “rhythmic gymnastics.”
2018 then saw wrestling, a sport in the olympics since the ancient Greeks held the competitions, booted from the games, in favor of the pentathlon, for which Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the fascist who previously ran the IOC and whose nepotistic son inherited a seat on the board lobbied for. He also happens to be the vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union.
2016 saw the largest sporting scandal in modern history. The Russian government was shown to have systematically used its state security services, the FSB, to switch athlete anti-doping test samples, going back up to four decades. The penalty issued by a weak IOC against cash rich Russia was a paltry two year ban on the country’s athletes competing as national representatives, saying that instead of Russian athletes, they would compete as athletes from Russia.
The last games have seen the Brazilian Olympics cause the fall of the Rousseff government, massive losses in Sochi and South Korea, and the number of cities bidding to host dropping precipitously years after year. In 2017, the host cities process collapsed, with all prospective hosts but the US and France dropping out, leaving only two cities. In that year, the IOC, in an unprecedented act awarded the 2024 games to LA and 2028 to Paris so as not to have to repeat the humiliation of a process with no willing hosts.
What is the largest reason for this? The IOC and its unreasonable demands and putrefuying leadership. The IOC demands no less than half of television revenue for the games, normally the largest source of revenue for host cities. They also pick the most ambitious bids possible, those who plan to build new facilities, ironically trapping the hosts with insurmountable debt and dooming the host cities. According to the CFR, the only recent olympics host to actually gain money from the olympics was LA, primarily because they relied on existing infrastructure and sporting facilities for the multiple teams that call LA home. Meanwhile, the IOC collects sky-high revenues which continue to grow, not reflecting the declining popularity of the games. The above-the-table demands for lavish treatment and development, and under-the-table demands for cash payments and gifts have made the IOC a FIFA style racketeer more than international sports organization. This is no more evident than their interference in the China Taiwan issue.
First, it should be noted that China and their TV broadcast rights are one of the largest sources of the IOCs budget. The IOC receives an estimated $125 million USD per olympiad from Chinese TV revenue. This has doubtlessly influenced their actions towards Taiwan.
The 2018 Taiwan referendum ballot included one measure over whether Taiwan should compete in 2020 as Taiwan, and not as Chinese Taipei, a name they were forced into under Chinese pressure in an agreement signed 37 years ago in 1981. Currently, they are not allowed to use either of their desired names, the Republic of China or Taiwan, not allowed to display their flag, or play their national anthem.
The Olympic committee responded by sending a letter, widely panned by the Taiwanese people as threatening that any attempt to push for a name change would mean that Taiwan could be unable to compete in the 2020 Slympics. According to the letter, the IOC had already discussed the possibility of the name change, prior to the referendum, and preemptively rejected the possibility before the Taiwanese decision without hearing any explanation. They then deliberately released the letter, just prior to the referendum, and likely at the behest of Chinese interests, in order to influence the outcome of the referendum. This interference shows five things:
- The IOC does not respect the sovereign rights of Taiwanese people to choose their name, play their anthem, or display their flag
- The IOC is not politically neutral. It made the decision that it was unwilling to renegotiate the agreement without any consultation with Taiwan
- The IOC stands behind the agreement which dates back the the beginning of the leadership term of a self professed fascist who admitted to taking bribes during the bid processes, and this is almost certainly a consequence of their weakness, bending over to Chinese money. They would sacrifice Taiwan’s participation to stay within the terms of this agreement
- The IOC does not respect Taiwanese political rights, and attempted to interfere in the referendum decision, which, because of this threatening letter, was mistakenly framed in such a way that a yes-vote was tantamount to the Taiwanese forgoing their participation in the olympics
- The IOC maintains a double standard, allowing individual Russian athletes to participate after a 30+ year long cheating scandal without their national recognition, and restoring full rights two years later, while vaguely threatening to completely pull Taiwanese participation for a simple name change
Taiwan is rapidly losing space in the diplomatic sphere. They would have done best to take a strong stand against IOC, and Chinese interference in their political process, and waning Taiwanese representation in the world. They should have passed the referendum, and if the IOC had attempted to ban them for a name change, the neutrality and already tattered reputation of the IOC would have been forever stained by their greed. Further, the Taiwan issue would have gained significant attention on the world stage, instead of maintaining the humiliating status quo.
In another two years, in 2020, Taiwanese athletes will again compete without being able to display a single piece of their national identity, while the IOC and the world supplicate and bend over to their overlords in Beijing who attempt to silence any dissident voices.
This time they have succeeded in suppressing the Taiwanese identity. Hopefully, the next time they have the choice, Taiwan will put its freedom and values over sports, and take a risk, perhaps sacrificing the right to participate in the already corrupted games, in order to push for their the sovereignty of Taiwan.
Staff writer and photo: Ari B