Critically evaluate how the Olympic Games has developed both politically and commercially over the last 100 years.
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Critically evaluate how the Olympic Games has developed both politically and commercially over the last 100 years. The Olympic Games are a quadrennial event which dates back to 776BC, at the time of the ancient Greeks. The Games were originally held at Olympia along with festivals combining prayer, sacrifices, religious service, music, dancing and rituals all dedicated to the God, Zeus, (Coakley 2001). The events in those days were for the wealthy, young males and were of warrior nature such as boxing, wrestling, javelin throwing, sprinting and chariot racing, (Coakley 2001). Women were not allowed to compete in these early Olympics. Another event was created specifically for Women, dedicated to Hera, the sister-wife of Zeus and these were known as the Heraean Games. The modern day Olympic Games were revived by a man named Pierre De Courbetin in 1894. He formed a board of members in whom he trusted to organise and run the Olympic Games. This board of individuals was known as the International Olympic Committee, IOC. It was only possible to become a committee member by invitation from Pierre De Courbetin. In this way he ensured that he could select his committee from people whom he trusted. At the beginning, there were only 13 countries represented in the IOC. This compares to 118 members of the IOC in 1998, (Senn 1999). The modern day Olympic programme included many events which are still seen today. Events such as sprinting, long distance running and field events have always been included. Between the years 1912-1948, architecture, sculpture, painting, music and literature where also included, (Tomlinson and Whannel 1984).
To achieve political success at the Olympic Games some individuals have been found to be corrupt in their means of achieving this goal. The most common form of corruption in found in attaining votes from IOC members. In the winter Olympics in 2002, Salt Lake City, four members of the IOC were found to have accepted bribes between $500,000 and $1m to vote. In the summer Games of 2000 John Coates the head of the Sydney bid was found offering $35-70,000 to Kenyan and Ugandan officials to vote for Sydney. Prior to this Jennings (1996) had already identified that sports administrators do accept bribes for personal interest. Since the 1976 Games in Montreal when the IOC embraced commercialisation the costs of sponsorship have escalated. At these Games an American TV station ABC, paid $25m for the coverage of the Olympic Games. They reportedly made over three times this amount in the sale of advertisements, (Tomlinson and Whannel 1984), which was equated from advertising cost of $72,000 per minute, (Segrave and Chu 1981). (At the 1984 Los Angeles Games it would cost approximately $0.5m per minute for advertising, [Segrave and Chu 1981].) Another example is that the 1996 Atlanta Games cost the official sponsor, Coca-Cola $500m. The TV coverage of the 2000 Sydney Games, 2004 Greek Games and the 2008 Chinese Games cost one television company a total of $3.5bn. Compare these vast sums of money to the first Games that were covered by TV which were the London Games in 1948 which cost the BBC £1,500, (Tomlinson and Whannel 1984).
Olympic Games were originally conceived for, that being to promote the development of physical and moral qualities, to create international respect and goodwill and that taking part is more important than winning. Money has influenced this sporting event as the same for many others, such as football and turned the IOC into an international corporation rather than a governing body for sport. The IOC does not seem to be to concerned where the revenue comes from, whether it be Television or large corporate companies. The IOC also shows no concern about what products are being promoted alongside sport, such as burgers, beer and soft drinks. The business aspect of making huge sums of money has become more important than the promotion of sport as a healthy lifestyle. Reference List * Coaley, J, J. (2001) Sport in Society: Issues and Controversies. McGraw Hill, New York. * Conner, F. (2002) The Olympics most Wanted. Brassey's Press, US. * Espy, R. (1981) The Politics of the Olympic Games. University of California Press LTD, London, England. * Jennings, A. (1996) The New Lord of the Rings: Olympic Corruption and How to Buy Gold Medals. Pocket Books, London. * Kew, F. (1997) Sport Social Problems and Issues. Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, England. * Maguire, J. (2002) Sports Worlds: A Sociological Perspective. Human Kinetics, Champaign: IL. * Martin, B. (1996) Ten Reasons to Oppose All Olympic Games. Available at: www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/pubs/96freedom/html * Segrave, J., and Chu, D. (1981) Olympism. Human Kinetics, Champaign: IL. * Tomlinson, A., and Whannel, G. (1984) Five Ring Circus: Money, Power and Politics at the Olympic Games. Pluto Press LTD, New South Wales, Australia. Student: Evan Morris Track & Field (10042164) Tutor: Denise Roche 1
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