Olympic Realities by Bruno Helbling download in ePub, pdf, iPad
The exclusion of the Austrian skier Karl Schranz from the Winter Olympics for receiving money from sponsors was a watershed. We observed this in Norway, Austria, Switzerland and just recently in Hamburg. For their part, many American sporting stars received lucrative college scholarships. The ban on earning money from endorsements was progressively relaxed, with each Olympic sport's governing body now making its own rules. The Olympic movement remained resolutely amateur after briefly allowing professional fencing instructors to compete.
Nowadays the impressive concrete jumps stand like abstract sculptures in a wonderful landscape, rotting and rusting in time. Autocratically-led countries continue to take their chances in hosting the Olympic Games. Most sports soon split into amateur and professional bodies that ignored each other's existence.
The Finns got their own back in when Nurmi lit the Olympic flame at Helsinki. In Sochi, Baku, Almaty and Beijing political leaders are typically behind the bid. Partially it was very strange to move in big stadiums or abandoned sports-fields without anybody nearby.
Even competing against professionals could mean disqualification. In truth, I was surprised how many of the venues still exist and are even, in part, still in use.
The touristic visits to these destroyed ski-jump facilities are in the minority. The great Finnish distance runner Paavo Nurmi was barred from competing at Los Angeles in after allegations he had received excessive travel expenses. The ice stadium in Sarajevo-Kosovo was destroyed and later served as a mortuary during the siege. Of course one can also find a lot of national differences between the former host cities.
Nowadays it is used as a multifunctional sports facility. Swiss and Austrian skiers boycotted the Winter Olympics because skiing teachers were prevented from competing. Many tourists and Bosnians make the trip out of curiosity about what happened to the famous Olympic fields. Bombed and destroyed during the siege and almost left uninhabitable, it was renovated in part with support from the city of Barcelona and is a lively place once more. Athens, for example, failed to continue to use their newly built sports facilities even before the financial crisis.
In democratic countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to convince voters and taxpayers to finance these fantasies. That was, however, not to be.