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Editorial

Best/Worst drama nominee at the Olympics

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The Games have jumped the shark.
Even before the first event, the latest gathering of the world’s premier athletes was fraught with tension and conflict. Political tit for tat as the U.S. and other nations opted not to send diplomatic delegations in protest of China’s human rights abuses. COVID-19 hermetically sealed sporting venues keeping spectator crowds at bay and dampening that Olympic vibe. Would Russia invade Ukraine during the opening ceremony?
With competitions underway, we held front row seats to the drama we have come to expect, expertly edited for our viewing pleasure: an avalanche of Team USA alpine skier crashes led by Mikaela Shiffrin; Nathan Chen finally achieving Olympic greatness as the men’s figure ice skating champion; Elana Meyers Taylor becoming the most decorated Black athlete; criticism over Ellen Gu’s triumphant run for China gold glory as a native of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Night after night, despite the dwindling and now deemed disastrous low-record ratings for NBC, many of us held on, hoping that enough narratives of achievement and redemption would come to the fore hence keeping our faith that these games live up to its motto, “Citius, Altius, Fortius” (“Faster, Higher, Stronger”) as a call to push for superhuman physical achievement, breaking records and being the best.
But at what cost?
The ice figure skating world is still reeling from Thursday’s women’s [misnomer] finals climax, and debacle, when we witnessed the literal and figurative downfall of favored-to-win 15-year-old Kamila Valieva, mired in controversy as she was allowed to compete in the long program despite having tested positive for a banned substance.
And what a plot twist. Valieva succumbed to the pressure, falling off the podium into fourth place. Then Russian teammate Alexandra Trusova had a temper tantrum as she had landed a historic five quadruple jumps but not enough for gold against teammate Anna Shcherbakova, left stunned and in despair as Olympic champion. Talk about being lonely at the top. But, hey, there was an award ceremony after all which would not have happened had Valieva medaled, pending her doping investigation.

Hollywood, could you have ever imagined a set of what ifs for your next pilot?
It may have made for great TV, but it also had audiences in an uproar, me included, over all the adults in the room starting with the International Olympic Committee for allowing things to go this far. The blame game remains in full swing.
As a marketer, I conclude that significant damage has been sustained by the Olympics brand, and many of us are ready to change the channel for good unless the IOC and all associated governing sporting bodies get their act together and find ways to ban doping altogether, run clean host city bidding processes and look out for the mental wellbeing of all athletes.
They sure could use a good script rewrite starting with serious soul-searching (remember global unity, sporting friendship and fair play?) followed by changes to charters and leadership as well as an overhaul of the system’s checks and balances.
I did catch Sunday’s closing ceremony. The torch was handed over to Milano Cortina for the 2026 Winter Games (already to Paris for the 2024 Summer Games). Will all who partake, whether athlete, officiant or organizer, the sporting community at large, take the hard lessons learned from these games going forward? Only time will tell.
What I can assure you is that when the torch finally extinguished, it was welcomed with a deep sigh of relief.
Jobert E. Abueva is a resident of New Hope.


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