There’s an Olympics going on and I find I couldn’t care less, even though it’s the Winter Olympics which I used to enjoy much more than the summer version. I’m not even sure why they still exist…
The peak Olympic time was from some time after WWII until around the time that Warsaw Pact countries were able to escape the Soviet sphere and the Soviet Union imploded. During that time of the the Olympics functioned as a low stakes front in the Cold War. One the one side you had Western athletes with the semi-monastic ‘amateur’ status and on the other side there were the Soviet and satellite forces who were functioning professionals (not sure how the Soviets viewed it but that was the American take).
And, in pre-cable or even early cable years they were a massive event that disrupted regular inflexible programming schedule for a couple of weeks. Just happening every four years highlighted their special nature. There were one of the largest spectacles in the world that combined human interest (those up close and personal athlete portraits), political interest (of the nation state variety) wrapped up with idealized specimens of seeming natural perfection doing amazing things.
None of that is true anymore, no big political rivalry in the world at present lends itself to athletic proxy competition. The world is not starved for spectacle, it’s glutted with so many spectacles that none of them seem very interesting anymore. And all the athletes (at least the contenders) come across as canny professionals cum performance enhancing specialists carefully calculating how to get past the next random drug test.
The road from then to now was long but I’d say 1988 was the last real Olympic year, 1992 they were becoming a shadow of themselves wtihout the CCCP and in 1994 they broke off into the awkward schedule where the winter and summer games are staggered so that every two years there’s another godammed Olympics.
They serve no purpose anymore beyond the purpose that every other godammed thing in the media does – to sell things and let celebrities brand themselves. Apparently a big celebrity this time is a filthy communist who’s charmed western media who don’t know and don’t care how many thousands of her countrymen her obscene royal family has starved to death or murdered.
If the entirety of the Olympic games were to disappear tomorrow I’d be relieved. But in the current year vast money making, bribe inducing, drug bloated circuses of whorish excess serve as their own justification.