The Rio Olympic Games are now just around the corner and just as happens before every Olympics, there are plenty of outstanding issues. No doubt, just like previous editions of the Games, these issues won’t be major concerns once the competition gets underway.
One element of the Olympic Games that does need some attention post Rio though is the selection of sports within the Games.
Over the last few months, the world has watched as golfer after golfer has pulled out of the Rio 2016 citing worries about the Zika virus. While mosquitoes in winter are generally not a major issue and the fact that golf has been played in plenty of other places where the the Zika viruses present, without mass pullouts, we all know this is a farce. An Olympic meal for playing golf just doesn’t mean much to professional golfers.
For this reason sports such as golf have no place at the Olympic Games. If medals do not mean anything, all it is doing is diminishing the other sports and serves as a massive slap to the face of those athletes who have put their lives on hold over the last four years to simply qualify for Rio.
Along with golf, other sports that need to be culled from the Olympic Games include tennis and soccer.
The Olympics is not the peak for these sports and when you have athletes picking and choosing whether they want to come or not, you are diminishing the Olympic spirit and hurting athletes who give their all to be there competing.
Water polo, shot put, modern pentathlon, table tennis, judo. Now these are Olympic sports. These are all fields we generally only hear about come Olympic Games time and events where athletes do their upmost to secure a place. These competitors wouldn’t dream of pulling out once that spot is secure.
Look at Australia’s tennis selection farce. The top two ranked players in this country, Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios did not even want to be considered for selection.
Tomic preferring to focus on other tennis events and Kyrgios, well he said he would prefer to focus on his social media account or something like that. In recent days, team coach Lleyton Hewitt also pulled out for personal reasons. If Hewitt is pulling out of the Games, you can pretty much guarantee that tennis does not deserve its place.
Who won the singles gold medals for tennis at the London Olympic Games? If your answer was Andy Murray and Serena Williams, you would be correct. If you didn’t have to look it up, you are either lying or really into tennis.
If you think about Australia’s best Olympic moments since Sydney 2000, they’ve been Cathy Freeman winning gold at the 400m in Sydney, Australia’s swimmers dominating in the pool at Athens 2004 and Matthew Mitcham winning a diving gold in Beijing 2008. Throw in other moments including a water polo gold in Sydney for the women’s team and Anna Meares coming back from a broken neck to claim a silver medal at Beijing.
These are all moments that stand out years after they occurred and all moments that have well and truly mattered for these athletes. There was nothing stopping them.
Each member of the 2016 women’s water polo team received a phone call from a gold medal winning member of the of 2000 team giving them the news that they’d been selected to go to Rio. That is what the Olympics are all about.
The Olympic Games must be allowed to go back to having sports where to qualify you give your all. The stories that the Olympic Games provide are ones of athletes showing persistence, hard work and a want and willingness to win.
The Games don’t need sports where these attitudes do not exist, because after all the Olympic Games are a privilege, not a right.