The Winter Olympics

They’re really a bit of a scam, aren’t they?

If the Olympics is supposed to be about the fraternity of nations, how can you have an Olympics that requires weather patterns that don’t occur in most countries of the world?

Where it Snows.

cheers to Nasa for the image

How can you have an olympics where the only developing countries to have ever won a medal are China (19) Kazakhstan (5) Uzbekistan (1) and North Korea (1)? Where no African middle Eastern or South American country has ever won a medal?  (….or Carribean for that matter…)

(Can I say, props to Disney for Cool Runnings, a movie about trying your best, failing and staying dignified, (based on a true story), that I remember loving and watching repeatedly as a child. Formative, ne?)

Since not all the continents are represented, they should not be allowed to use the Summer Olympics symbol. Perhaps something like this would be more appropriate:

In fact, winter sports are so distant from most people’s experience that the broadcast network has to pay a slew of football commentators to mock, muddle and misinterpret the events.

Which pleases the informed viewing public so much they set up this Facebook group:

“Eddie McGuire is ruining the 2010 Winter Olympics Coverage”

What a mess. Your thoughts?

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Thomas the Think Engine is the blog of a trained economist. It comes to you from Melbourne Australia.

10 thoughts on “The Winter Olympics”

  1. wow…this is a very down-under argument. I watched the Opening Ceremonies with a group of Vancouverites in Sydney and we really got a kick out of how the Australian commentators were interpreting our culture. One of the (Aussie) girls at the party actually asked me while our Native peoples were dancing, “why aren’t they black?”


    1. Indeed I can see your point though its shallow thinking. It snows in Australia and as a Canadian I have competed in the winter sports in your own country on snow. You have a point for sure, but these are legitimate amature sports which deserve respect and need a stage for the athletes to shine the same as the rest for the reasons stated in this article. Not to mention they are very exciting and fun to watch; Cricket on snow perhaps? :) I think Thomas’s blog really sums it up for the uninformed Australian opinion, which I know is the minority. If you ask the tens of thousands of Australians who are in BC and Vancouver experiencing what is the Olympics, I would think they would have a different opinion. They will not leave when the parties over because they were there before and will stay after; profiting from the experience of winter sport and culture, Canadian style. Perhaps your medal winners in winter sport were drawn to it by seeing this excitment in the games in the first place. You will see more and more “developing countries” producing winter althletes in the future as young generations will be inspired in the future. Rent (sorry eh I mean hire) Cool Runnings. You can do better Oz, this article was not very good;

      I hope you are enjoying the games as much as we are! Go Straya!… and Go Canada!

      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, Earth


      1. Damon I agree they are legitimate and amateur and need a stage on which to shine. But they’re also elitist obscure arcane and inaccessible to most of the worlds population ! The olympics are about more than that. Perhaps your perspective is limited by the games proximity??


  2. I agree that the Winter Olympics should not be considered a worldwide event. How can Norway win 280 medals, yet no African or South American country can win a medal? And a lot of the sports in the Winter Olympics are pretty mickey mouse. Snowcross is basically BMX racing merged with smash up derby. Sure it would be fun, but an Olympic event?


  3. Actually BMX racing is an olympic event.

    This is a bit off topic, but I was wondering the other day what are the most popular (as in played by the most people worldwide) sports that are not olympic events?


  4. Who do you think you are, the Olympics boss? The Olympics ain’t the UN. It entertains people and makes money. All this ‘sport = world peace’ talk is nonsense anyway. Let the Norwegians and the Americans scoot around in the snow, it’s not hurting anyone.


  5. …so what about the Commonwealth Games, then ;-)

    I reckon Australia is pretty much unique in this situation – not really the climate for instilling winter sport enthusiasm in the majority of the general population, but still rich enough and sporting-culture-centric enough to produce the odd Winter Olympic medallist. As soon as that happens, the TV networks want the games, but don’t know what to do with them when they get ’em – see point 1: no real audience.

    So instead we get Eddie McGuire and James Brayshaw saying things like “that’s just absolutely fantastic, no doubt about it” and “…she has just gone SMACK!”, regardless of the sport. This pisses me off, coz I know my super-G from my GS, and probably bores everyone who doesn’t, coz it doesn’t shed any light on what it is they might be watching. LAME.


  6. An interesting comparison is between the winter olympics and the summer olympic events that are dominated by the developed world. The summer events that developing countries very rarely are competitive are swimming, gymnastics and cycling (maybe a few others). What is the difference between those events and running, soccer etc – I would say they are events that require specialist equipment or venues (I mean, the distinction even extends to Africans dominating track events but not field events). Not many pools or velodromes in Kenya.

    And pretty much every winter event requires specialist equipment and/or venues. Could we ever imagine a luge/snowmobiler from a poor country (other than those who actually grow up overseas)? Yes, Cool Runnings etc but that was an exception.

    Anyway, its still fun to watch. Except for 54 lugers in a row, who invented that sport?


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