How Olympic are the Olympic Games?

People from all over the world come together to compete under fair conditions and further understanding among different cultures. This is the idea behind the Olympics. But as the Winter Games kick off in Pyeongchang commentators doubt that these lofty ideals correspond to reality.

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Die Presse (AT) /

A franchise with five rings

For the IOC the Winter Games are once again just an unscrupulous, billion-dollar operation, Die Presse concludes:

“It's just like in a casino: the longer the game lasts, the more the bank wins. In this case it's the International Olympic Committee that wins. An association based in Switzerland with a top management some of whose members are shady heavyweights. All of them are well connected - and equipped with an excellent business sense. The game with the product is easy: it's about power, profit and image. The Olympics have become a global franchise with five rings. To keep it going the rules are sometimes ignored or bent as far as possible - but only for really good partners like Russia.”

Slate (FR) /

Europe no longer eager to host Olympics

Asia is now the continent of the future when it comes to hosting the Olympics, Slate comments:

“Asia isn't content with just the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo; Beijing has also secured the 2022 Winter Olympics. Sapporo [in Japan] is pretty much set on bidding for the Winter Games again, this time the 2026 Games. ... Asia has earned these honours because it continuously shows how keen it is on hosting the Olympics. Europe, by contrast, is increasingly reluctant to host the Games, as demonstrated by the withdrawal of Hamburg, Rome and Budapest in the bidding phase for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which Paris finally won for lack of competitors. ... The IOC can count itself lucky that Asia is not so critical and small-minded.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Future of the Games is melting away

Climate change means the Winter Games have no future, Aftonbladet fears:

“In future the Winter Olympics will be forced to commute between just a handful of host locations, thus losing their original meaning. It's well-known that the Olympics are about politics. And politics requires many countries to participate. If the snow melts, the number of participants will melt with it, because who can train without snow? The appeal of winter sports also lies in the wintery surroundings, white landscapes glistening in the bright sunshine. A track made of artificial snow in the rain can't replace that experience. During the last games everything possible was done to keep the competitions alive. ... If the greenhouse gas levels continue to increase many winter sport locations will have to give up.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

The champion is already known

North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un is already the big winner of the Games in South Korea, Lidové noviny comments:

“The man can do what he wants: test his nuclear arsenal, fire missiles over Japanese territory, or hold a huge military parade on the day before the Games begin. Despite all that the North Korean delegation is welcomed like a cherished guest. This gesture only confirms how empty the words about peace and Olympic ideals have become. Not that there's anything wrong with peace and Olympic ideals! But it's wrong to welcome with open arms a regime that openly disdains them.”