Hands up! Who’s going to the Olympics this year?

Well. I’ll tell you who’s not going: LeBron James isn’t going, citing he’s tired. Adam Scott, the Aussie golfer isn’t going saying he has scheduling issues. Steph Curry has bowed out with injuries. Kenyan runner Wilson Kipsang also has scheduling issues. American cyclist Tejay van Garderen is worried about the Zika virus as his wife is pregnant. And the list goes on – and will likely increase as the event comes closer.

I’ve always loved the Olympics – seeing all the fantastic athletes vie for the gold. I would be glued to the TV for both the summer and winter Games, and still fondly think of watching Torvill and Dean skate to Bolero at the ’84 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, cuddling my darling little Madam as she slipped into the Land of Nod.

And then everything started changing. The US challenged Russia’s “amateur” status, stating that the athletes in the army were indeed professional, and therefore the rest of the world should be able to field professional sportsmen and women – and the whole ball of wax changed.

I remember when Sydney was awarded the Olympics on Sept. 23, 1993. As the results were being announced from Monte Carlo, we Down Underers knew we just couldn’t stay awake all night to hear whether we triumphed or not, what with the eight hours’ time difference. But I vividly remember being awoken in the wee smalls by a huge boom, and I knew it was good. Either a whole bunch of fireworks went off, or the Pinchgut cannons were fired in Sydney Harbor and I just knew we’d won.

What a great feeling that was. The pride in the country was palpable, and my city got to host the biggest show of all, the year after I came to the States.

And a year after that, 9/11 happened, and the fragile peace which shone over this magnificent event was forever shattered.

I ask you, who would want to host the Olympics now? I doubt there is a country on earth that can afford to do it. Oh I know it’s all about national pride and the vague hope of an economic shot in the arm, but I so feel for Brazil right now. Its economy is shaky at best, the real threat of terrorism hovers like Harry Potter’s Dark Mark over all of us, and now we have particularly evil mosquitoes threatening the health of all who attend.

Who in their right mind would want to go to an event which terrorists must view as a gift for their evil intentions? What athlete would put his livelihood, his family, his very life, in jeopardy for a moment of glory? What country would want to bankrupt itself just with the cost of security?

While I think the winter Games are safe enough, they being so much smaller, I’m afraid I fear for the longevity of the summer Games.

God I hope I’m wrong.


Annie Dear lives in Lee’s Summit. Email her at anniedearkc@hotmail.com.