Not to diminish anyone’s feel-good-y Olympic experience (okay, to diminish it a bit): just a reminder that the spectacle you’re watching is driven at the top by greed and corruption:
Chris Lehmann writes:
The sitting head of the International Olympics Committee, Jacques Rogge, is a Belgian count and a retired competitive yachtsman—and that’s what passes for a crusading reformer in the money-blighted world of I.O.C. privilege.
Mr. Rogge was groomed as the successor to the Games’s long-running chieftain Don Juan Antonio Samaranch y Torelló, First Marquis of Samaranch, Grandee of Spain, a former sporting official with the fascist government of Francisco Franco who managed to reinvent himself as a global ambassador of sport with the large-scale financial backing of Adidas shoe mogul Horst Dassler. Mr. Samaranch oversaw a stunning litany of corruption in his two decades on the job—encouraging influence peddling, arranging sinecures for family members and cronies of committee members, and padding the I.O.C. board with fellow authoritarians and baksheesh impresarios. In his more expansive moments, Samaranch would also grace vicious dictators like Romania’s Nicolae Ceacescu with awards for their alleged contributions to international sport. When an HBO interviewer confronted Mr. Samaranch on this latter trespass, he curtly replied that he was “very proud” of Ceaucescu’s garland, adding that the I.O.C.’s judgment was not to be questioned because “we are more important than the Catholic religion.”