Why we lost the Salt Lake Olympic Games

The Salt Lake Olympic Games are over. The three winners are the teams from Norway, the USA, and Germany; Russia has won fourth place. The closing ceremony has taken place with Russia’s participation. What was the Olympics in the USA, and why did we lose? Some conclusions can already be drawn now.

First, it was the sports officials who lost the Olympics. The National Olympic Committee of Russia, Russian representatives in IOC, and the State Physical Culture and Sports Committee. Officials from each of the mentioned organizations were inactive in every scandal with the Russian athletes. When a second set of gold medals was given to the Canadian pair skaters, Canada’s Olympic Association planned to appeal to the court for an independent investigation. It wanted to find out the source of pressure exerted on the French referee. However, the Russian side was astonishingly passive in the scandal.

Throughout the Soviet era, Russian athletes faced many obstacles as well, as they had to go against the current and still win. However, we observed no precedents of the kind from the Soviet era during the latest olympics, otherwise the delegation would have certainly quit the Olympic Games. This time, we allowed a precedent to happen, and we swallowed the offense. This made the organizers and referees feel rather free to be biased against the Russian athletes. I mean the sports officials Tyagachev and Co. Their attitude to the Russian athletes gave birth to numerous anecdotes. Here is one of them. If Russian and Belarussian teams reach a final, the final will fail, because the teams represent a union state. In this case, independent Canada and the USA would struggle for the gold medals. Indeed, this could have been possible.

What is interesting is the poll that ShortNews.com, Western portal regarding Russia’s further participation in the Salt Lake Olympics. Of the poll participants, 46,13% think that Russia should have quit the Olympics and 53,87% think not. This means that almost half of the participants would welcome Russia’s withdrawal from the Olympic Games. The Russian people must be thinking even more resolute about it. However, we “maintain a reputation," so to say.

One could say that the Russian athletes have been getting ready for the Olympics for four years; it was the final Olympics (or the first and final) for some of them. Only if we stick to the principle that participation is what really matters, we could stay. In any case, the athletes who have been unfairly refereed or disqualified have suffered the greatest shocks.

Second, it should be admitted that the whole of the country lost the Olympics. Observer Denis Tukmakov in the article “Olympic wars” (Zavtra, #8) says that we need school (coach potential and experience) andinfrastructure (sports equipment, technical novelties, and domestic tournaments) to win at the Olympic Games. This is a sure way to get more and more medals. Russia, being a successor to the Soviet Union, has lost a part of its sports heritage and failed to create something new.

We are still very strong in such winter sports as skiing, biathlon, and figure skating. No special infrastructure is required for victory in these spheres, and the coaching traditions and spirit of victory are rather strong in Russia. Observer Tukmakov says that athletes should be trained since childhood to win gold medals at the Olympics. However, Russia can hardly expect to be the Olympic champion in skiing and bobsledding, as over a period of eleven years no bobsledding routes, skating rinks, or ski jumps have been constructed in the country.

Probably, this was one of the reasons why President Putin abstained from a more strict position concerning the Olympic scandals. There is no need to deceive himself. Order is to be introduced in the realm of sports first of all. This will be safe ground for further victories at the Olympic Games. Only those countries that win Olympics can dictate the will, as they have this right by being the strongest.

One more problem should to be mentioned here. Today, sports and politics are closely interconnected, especially when we speak about the Olympic Games. It is a sort of tradition. Russia’s opinion is almost ignored now, and the USA together with its NATO allies are openly imposing their will. It would be very naive to expect to surpass them in sports, especially at the Olympics.

The time of open betrayal of the country’s interests by the authorities has already passed; we observe the revival of the state. This means that positive tendencies are soon to appear in sports as well. Russia will win!

As for the Salt Lake Olympics, it has discredited the very spirit of the Olympics as a sports contest designed to join the world and people. Earlier wars ceased during Olympic Games, but the Salt Lake Olympics has become a scene for violent fights, when some selected countries dictate their will, no matter whether the ways they do it are right or wrong.

Offended Koreans, who have been involved in the sports intrigues as well, cursed Americans at the Olympics and threatened revenge actions during the world championship that is to be held in Korea. It reminds one of a famous Russian fable by Ivan Krylov, where a fearful little dog barked at a large elephant.

Sergey Stefanov PRAVDA.Ru

Translated by Maria Gousseva

Photo by NTVRu.com

Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/23/37505.html

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