Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



David Coles, Head of Sport, BBC World Service
"The Olympic movement is alive and kicking"
 real 28k

Nilay K. Roy, Atlanta, USA
"While the flame continues to burn the spirit is long since dead."
 real 28k

Jacki Muir, Phuket, Thailand
"The Olympics are evolving"
 real 28k

Carole Orpe, Torrence, USA
"Commercialism has changed the face of the Olympics"
 real 28k

John Muir, Stuttgart, Germany
"The Olympics used to be about good living now it's only about science"
 real 28k

Kostas Laskaridis, Geneva, Switzerland
"Hardly anyone knows what the Olympic spirit really is"
 real 28k

David Coles, Head of Sport, BBC World Service
"The media will decide if the Olympics have been a success"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Is the Olympic spirit dead?

The largest-ever Olympic Games are now well underway in Sydney. More than 10,000 athletes are taking part, watched on television by half the world's population.

Television companies and corporate sponsors are paying more than one billion dollars for the right to screen or associate themselves with these games.

Along with world records tumbling, however, stories of drug-taking make headlines every day, as athletes come under increasing pressure to perform. Off the track, the games' ruling body, the International Olympic Committee, is still reeling from allegations of corruption.

According to the Olympic Creed, the most important thing is not to win but to take part. But has all the money and the level of exposure killed the Olympic spirit? Are the modern games about sportsmanship and glory or about the pursuit of profit?

Diana Madill was joined live from Australia by the BBC World Services' Head of Sport, David Coles.

Select the link below to watch Talking Point On Air

  • Read your comments since the programme
  • Your comments during the programme
  • Your comments before the programme
  • Your comments since the programme

    The death of the Olympic spirit is blamed on drug-taking, but what about the greatest performance-enhancer of them all - money? How can we pretend that all competitors have a fair chance of winning a medal when it is now all about which national team has the biggest sponsorship deals and the best facilities to train in?
    Fiorella Sultana De Maria, England

    The Olympic spirit died the moment the decision was made to have the Games every two years. Today it's nothing but sporting equipment marketing and product placement. Just like everything else in the world.
    Craig Karp, Texas

    Yes it might be dead, but everything has to die. I myself am hoping I have about 10 more years left.
    Jacks Pin, USA


    The Munich games will always represent the death of the Olympic spirit to me

    Alison, London, UK
    The Olympic spirit died on September 5, 1972 in Munich when the decision was taken by Avery Brundage, the then IOC president, to carry on with the Games after 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were innocently murdered. I have no political axe to grind on that one; just a simple feeling of disgust at the callous disrespect shown to those athletes and their families by an uncaring IOC. Forget aerodynamic helmets and special suits - much blood was spilled that day and the Munich games will always represent the death of the Olympic spirit to me.
    Alison, London, UK

    The spirit could be revived if all the peoples of the world could enjoy the Games without hindrance. It would be wonderful if the TV companies could stifle their greed for money for a couple of weeks and give us them in raw and undiluted continuity
    Roger Sayer, Everett, USA

    There are two "Olympic Ideas". The one of de Coubertin who was blue-eyed and out of the world and the original ones in ancient Greece. The original one is alive and well. It always meant big money and benefits to be an Olympian winner. The idea of de Coubertin was a lie, an ideal. It cannot work anymore in a world with the free-flow of information.
    Daniel Schriefer, Doha-Qatar

    What is happening with the drug crackdown in Sydney, is long overdue. It is precisely because athletes have been allowed to get away with drug-taking offences for so long that there is the erosion of the original ideals. No, the spirit is not dead. Every drugs charge is a triumph of original idealism over greed. Every charge a reminder of what we are supposed to be reaching for - fair competition on a level playing field.
    Peter Frost, Cape Town, South Africa


    The fact that there are competitors from third-world countries competing and winning alongside the developed countries is more in keeping with the Olympian ideal

    Brian, England
    The Olympic ideal of truly amateur sportsmen and women competing NEVER existed. In the USA there were athletic scholarships. In the Eastern Bloc the athletes were taken into the army. In Britain the athletes often came from families that could afford to support them. Now, thanks to open sponsorship, there is a difference, we have athletes from more countries than ever competing and winning.
    The fact that there are competitors from third-world countries competing and winning alongside the developed countries is more in keeping with the Olympian ideal than any notion of amateur status that never really existed.
    Brian, England

    I totally agree with Neil from Ipswich: why should athletes get public funding? I am a (non-drug using) bodybuilder and am sure I try far harder than most of the competitors at the Olympics - and without all the coaching, medical advice, sports psychologists et al. Nobody funds me, or pats me on the back when I finish 5th.
    Paul, Manchester, UK

    Yes, the true Olympic spirit and ideal is dead! Killed mainly by commercialism; as long as you have rich countries who are prepared to back their athletes with large sums of money and hi-tech equipment it will remain so. If we want to follow the true spirit of the games then athletes in each event should be given the same equipment to use - no more hi-tech bicycles or sharkskin swimsuits or aerodynamic running suits. As long as this situation exists athletes from the poorer nations will never be able to compete on an even basis.
    Alan Portchmouth, UK

    The Olympic Spirit is a term borrowed from theology. Theologians could explain the roles of The Father and The Son. For whatever they could not explain they created the notion of The Spirit. Similarly, in the Olympics there are sporting competitions, the corporate profits, and whatever else the remains is called "the Olympic spirit".
    Daniel Ionita, Sydney, Australia


    big companies would not be there if it were not for Samaranch and his IOC buddies being blinded by the $ signs flashing in their head

    Kenneth, Halifax UK
    People blame the large companies for killing the Olympics. Just remember these big companies would not be there if it were not for Samaranch and his IOC buddies being blinded by the $ signs flashing in their head. Why sponsor the games, do they need a higher profile or is it just a load of corporate hospitality for the fat cats of the world. I think Mr Samaranch should step down as president after all he is an old man, but it seems he is addicted to the power, and the money.
    Kenneth, Halifax UK

    All of you should be in Sydney to feel the Olympic spirit. I was cynical before the Olympics started, but to see the best of the best competing, to see people proud of the country and their cultural heritage; of their birth and at the same time having good will towards the countries of others has been a joy. I don't know, maybe it's just Australians and their love of both sport and multi-culturism, but the spirit is certainly here.
    Marianne Breretin, Sydney Australia

    Hey everyone! Calm down and think for a second. Does it really matter whether the Olympic ideal has been lost? What was the Olympic ideal anyway? Can anyone tell me please? It sees to me that it is about people competing against each other in a non-violent sports environment. It makes a lot of people feel good about themselves and others for a short while.
    It rewards good performers with accolades and if they are lucky, some money. Take a pill guys, settle down and focus on something that really matters.
    Jon, Brisbane Australia


    Why not build a permanent site in a country which has a less extreme climate than previous hosts and one which would not rely on so much sponsorship?

    Andy Wilson, UK
    The Games have become too commercialised over recent years, just look at the fiasco in Atlanta. The USA should never be allowed to host the Games again. Why not build a permanent site in a country which has a less extreme climate than previous hosts and one which would not rely on so much sponsorship? Why do we see a huge variety of outfits worn? Surely it would be fairer if everyone wore the same style outfit no matter what event they are participating in?
    Andy Wilson, UK

    As someone who has witnessed the build-up to the Sydney Games, it is difficult to convince me or anyone else here in this city now that the Olympic spirit is dead. This city has never been more alive - people have never been brought so close together in any peacetime event. If people would stop concentrating on the negative and celebrate all that is great about these, unquestionably the best Olympics yet, and take just one look at this city today, then it is impossible not to get caught up in the magic and the atmosphere. That an aboriginal woman can not only win gold, but also have the honour of lighting the cauldron shows how something as all encompassing as these games shows the power of this spirit. No, the Olympic spirit is far from dead.
    Matt Sharpe, Sydney, Australia

    The Olympics are a blast - like nothing I've ever witnessed before. And seeing it in a sporting nation helps that. Sydney's done a great job - better than anyone could have hoped for. Us Brits who live and work over here full time may get tired from hearing Aussies go on about "how great" their country is [it isn't quite "the greatest address on earth" as some humble locals claim], but as my girlfriend keeps reminding me. Sydney epitomises a sense of real FUN. It's competitive for sure, but there is a way to enjoy that motivation - water makes that possible. That's why Sydney 2000 looks and feels so good. Come over for the party guys - you've still got a week to get here!
    Ed Gibbs, Sydney, Australia


    The Olympic Games is a celebration of human achievement

    Julie, Melbourne, Australia
    The Olympic Games is a celebration of human achievement. Consider the planning and organising that goes into getting all those people in the same place at the same time. Think about the designing and building of magnificent sporting facilities, ceremonies and costumes. How marvellous is the technology that enables instantaneous world-wide media and even personal communication on such a scale? These are all human achievements. Yet the ultimate celebration is that everything comes together so we can recognise and pay tribute to the men and women who are truly the best that anyone can be, using only what God gave them. Commercialism and economics is what makes such an event possible.
    Julie, Melbourne, Australia

    The Olympic spirit is alive and well in Sydney even if it isn't anywhere else. The widespread cynicism that has built up here for years has vanished and the place has the most incredibly happy, exciting atmosphere. It feels like New Year's Eve all the time! Having been to a few events and seen Australians dancing in the stands alongside Brazilian fans and German supporters I can see that the Games are building bonds of respect between different countries and their people and that is what the Olympic spirit is all about.
    Lucie, A Brit in Sydney


    It's dead for me and the killer was the American broadcaster, NBC

    Ed, USA
    It's dead for me and the killer was the American broadcaster, NBC. The reporting of the Olympics here has swung from maudlin profiles of the pitchmen who'll be selling us cola and tennis shoes for the next year to whining about anti-American referees. Judging by the British and Australian web sites I've seen, coverage isn't any better overseas. I hope the BBC will take up the challenge to find a better way before 2004.
    Ed, USA

    I had to pay to take myself through university, why on earth should somebody get everything given to them on a plate purely because they can run fast?
    Neil, Ipswich, England

    I love the Olympics. The spirit of the games will continue until either we choose to end them or the world no longer exists. If this wasn't the case, why would millions be watching or tuning in on short wave? The problem is everybody and their mother is trying to make a buck off of the games and a few bad apples use performance enhancing drugs to win. Winning at all costs and money are at the core of the problem. Neither of us has the power to stop this mess.
    Terry Helton, Crown Point, USA

    The Olympics perpetuates a nationalist ideal that is increasingly outdated in the modern, connected world. Instead of representing countries, the individuals should stand for themselves. A true spirit of world unity could arise by weakening the barriers between nations. I'm not really sure what the "Olympic spirit" is meant to be so I can't say whether or not it is dead. It is what we make it, and I would turn it into a the celebration of individual achievement and global, human endeavour.
    Finn S., Canada

    The Olympic spirit is dead, the USA have helped carve the headstone with the aid of other competing countries. We used to have great games before all of the commercial interests - so why not now?
    John Clark, Los Angeles, USA

    I 'totally agree with the man from Geneva. At last the voice of truth about the drug-run, corrupt scandal. The sight of those poor young adolescent females jumping through hoops for their entire childhood 'for the greater glory', makes me sick.
    Cath Collins


    The problem of commercialisation of the Olympics and drugs in sport are mainly due to globalisation, money and power

    Baigalmaa Chiltem Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
    The problem of commercialisation of the Olympics and drugs in sport are mainly due to globalisation, money and power. Smaller countries like Mongolia, not a part of the world stage, but are left out of this issue. Mongolian athletes have not yet been corrupted because they are not a part of the globalised world. However, as Mongolia steps onto the world stage in the next ten years, it seems inevitable that athletes will also join the world trend of corruption in sport. I suspect our first doping scandal is not too far off.
    Baigalmaa Chiltem Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

    I believe the Olympic spirit is alive and well in Australia. Australians have turned out in force to see the torch relay across the country, and many ordinary people have been delighted to obtain tickets for various sporting events at the Olympics, even those which they are not familiar with, just to be part of the occasion. As for those of us who do not live in Sydney, we have our televisions tuned at all times and have been inspired by the athletes stories of struggle and courage. In this day and age we cannot avoid commercialism, but I believe the battlers still receive good coverage at the Olympic games, especially here in Australia!
    Emily Davies Brisbane, Australia


    It gives an great chance to people living in different parts of the World to forget all their enmity, anger, war etc and gives an opportunity to people to live in peace and harmony

    Chinnu, India
    There is no other sporting event to compare with them. It gives great opportunity to sport personal to show their talents and gives an opportunity to people of different regions, countries to participate, discuss, and know each other in a better way.
    Maybe there are much money involved, may be much advertisement, drug abuses, etc but nobody can ignore one main thing - that is the enjoyment and the achievement of sporting people all over the World. Now a days every sport is getting money by some means or other. There is nothing wrong in promoting the game, but the money earned by this way should be used to improve facilities and sport in poor countries. It gives an great chance to people living in different parts of the World to forget all their enmity, anger, war etc and gives an opportunity to people to live in peace and harmony.
    Chinnu, India

    The Olympics is a world-wide publication of a transparent example of a society with all the characteristics of the world society. It is a demonstration of the rule of law, the consequences of violating that law, and the financial and technical expertise devoted to the effort to maintain that law. Yes, it's expensive and there is much to nit-pick. It does provide tremendous collateral opportunities for the courageous Eric Moizambani's of the world. What's wrong with that?
    Lighting the flame is a symbol of all of this. It draws us together in an otherwise disparate world. If we don't know this, then it needs even more publicity.
    Jim Crawford York, Pa. USA

    Your comments during the programme

    Money matters in the Olympics that's why sports like karate have not been allowed, because countries like USA and similar countries do not do well or are not interested in these none money making low publicity sports. But consider that in ASIA these are very big sports and have a much larger appeal than equestrian events or synchronised swimming maybe they should be included in subsequent Olympics
    Peter, Singapore


    We just have to remember back to the Opening ceremony when the four East Timorese athletes marched into the stadium

    Kurt Crameri
    We just have to remember back to the Opening ceremony when the four East Timorese athletes marched into the stadium. They couldn't compete officially for East Timor but were proud to compete in the Olympics as Individual Athletes. They know, as well as the people of East Timor that they are representing them at the worlds largest sporting event.
    Kurt Crameri

    It is disgusting to see how many rich countries buy their medals by stealing talent from poorer nations. Grigorieva for Australia, Seles for USA, Kakiashvilis for Greece, Montalvo for Spain, Kipketer for Denmark etc to name just a few. The IOC should impose a ban, similar to the one used by FIFA: if an athlete has competed in any competition for one country, he/she mustn't be allowed to compete for another country.
    Nick, Helsinki, Finland

    The games are great. The drug cheats are being sent home. Great. I think a large percentage of the profits should go to promoting participation by lesser, poorer, nations.
    Joe Gilad, Israel


    The athletes and the host country must have money to put on the games - it has to come from somewhere. The Olympic spirit is not dead.

    Paul, Houston, USA
    In years past, it was of great frustration to athletes in nations where the government gave little or no little financial support while some nations fully supported the training and lives of their Olympians. Those athletes did not have to hold down separate jobs AND train. Therefore, the modern Olympics have always had "professional" athletes of sorts. Now that athletes in countries where the government provides very little support, such as those in America, are getting significant money from endorsements and private sector funding to support them, it all of the sudden destroys the Olympic spirit. I'll agree that doping and the use of drugs destroy the Olympic spirit, but money does not. The athletes and the host country must have money to put on the games - it has to come from somewhere. The Olympic spirit is not dead.
    Paul, Houston, USA

    The Olympic Spirit is alive and well. Competing countries accord different priorities and therefore resources to the quest for gold. Further, the competitive ethic varies from country to country and in different sports.
    Over time, especially in a world where information travels instantaneously, I think you'll see a much broader distribution of winnings. And that's a good thing. Like any other global process, the Olympic movement is an unwieldy one, but one definitely worth sustaining and continuously improving upon.
    John Anderson, Calgary, Canada

    The Olympics has just become commercialised like all other "traditional" events such as Christmas, Easter etc... The "true spirit" has been lost and the current generation witness "soulless" commercialism! Quite a tragedy really! As soon as money and politics are involved then there is no future for the "true believers".
    Paul D, England


    The Olympics is soon becoming, and in fact has been for sometime now, no different from any of the other competitions that we have

    Manish Agarwal, Singapore
    My opinion is that the Olympics is soon becoming, and in fact has been for sometime now, no different from any of the other competitions that we have. Take for example the American athletes Marion Jones and Maurice Greene. Boxing heavyweights like Mike Tyson etc are not allowed to compete in the Olympics because they charge for their appearances and are hence not amateurs. They are considered professionals because of the fees they charge and money they make out of the sport. So, why are the above mentioned American athletes allowed to compete? It is a known fact that they make millions out of sponsorship and they seem to be charging to appear in competitions.
    Manish Agarwal, Singapore

    Your comments before we went ON AIR

    I admit sport can make people rich, but isn't that about being good at what you do? I admire all those great athletes who give their all to become the best. In Australia the Olympics have been fantastic. Come on world, support your athletes and give them credit for what they do and what they are trying to achieve!
    Ruth, Australia


    It seems Australia that has a chip on its shoulder will go to any lengths to prove itself

    Anna, U.A.E
    I have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics so far (apart from the Opening ceremony which was embarrassingly showy). However, I think there should be some kind of control on the numbers of potential champions that are poached from around the world. America and Australia have long had an aggressive 'recruiting' policy, which has involved taking talented sports people from poorer countries. Just look at how many black people have won medals and how few of them are representing Africa. Talent from Eastern Europe has also long been tapped and in fact Australia offer free passports and funding to the talented. This is not the spirit of the Olympics. It seems Australia that has a chip on its shoulder will go to any lengths to prove itself.
    Anna, U.A.E

    The Spirit Dead? No I think not, just manipulated by big Money the world over. Sydney is not the first or last to run a bigger Games. I would have liked to see a better coverage from the BBC in England. The BBC has to remember like Australia and USA it is a multi-cultural society in the UK, it would have been good sportsmanship if they showed the presentation of three countries winning gold, silver and bronze medals, instead of the tight shots of only the UK teams. In Australia we show all three teams winning medals, how about it BBC?
    Anne from Australia living in UK, York

    The Olympics spirit is well and truly alive amongst the athletes and the Australian people, of course we are happy to win, but we are also happy for the best athlete or country to win. You should all be here!
    Tracy Rice, Australia

    The only thing that is dead at the games are the airwaves from NBC. I agree about Tim D I hate it when an American puts down an athlete from a non-USA team. Face it Tim both our teams were lousy! Give credit to the winners!
    Vickie Reeves, Indianapolis, USA

    The original Olympics date back over 2000 ago. One of the main events in the modern Olympics is the Marathon. This was inspired by the legend of a young man called Philippides (whose name was later corrupted to Pheidippides) who was told to run back to ran from the plain of Marathon to Athens to deliver the message of victory. He tried so hard (some claim up to 150 miles in two days), and used so much energy that he died just after he spoke. This inspired the idea of a long distance run with Man battling against physical limitations and endurance. The wording of message that Pheidippides delivered is also debated, but I believe that it went as follows: "Drink Coca-Cola"!
    Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan


    The only winners are the companies providing equipment, outfits and whatever

    Mythili Sarkar, Perugia, Italy
    The Olympics have become just a business event. If the US and Europe want to win all the events, then why come to the Olympics? There are other competitions for professionals throughout the year. They might as well just have a separate prize distribution ceremony without the competition if the medals are what count. It is an achievement if the competition is between athletes of equal or near equal strength. Professionals against amateurs? Is this the Olympic spirit? The only winners are the companies providing equipment, outfits and whatever.
    Mythili Sarkar, Perugia, Italy

    The only amateurs left in sport are the officials and referees. Sport is a massive money making industry. Why shouldn't people be allowed to have a share of the huge amount of money they generate? That's like saying actors shouldn't get paid for making films, they should just do it for the fun and kudos leaving all the money to the media companies.
    Graeme, England


    Ruined by sponsors and over-hyped by the television channels

    J Rouse, UK
    Ruined by Sponsors that is all. Over-hyped by the television channels who seem to think that all we need is a good dose of the Olympics to keep us on the straight and narrow. The shame is that this is probably true for most sports these days!
    J Rouse, UK

    I have listened to the commentator for the events - Tim Daggert, and actually felt ashamed to be an American for a short time. He has no Olympic spirit whatsoever! If the USA does not win he bad mouths and puts down the athlete that wins. It is a crying shame he was all they could find for this part in the Olympics. What kind of person takes an Olympic event and turns it into a football game commentary!
    Terri, Alexandria, USA

    Long live the Olympics, long may they get ever bigger and bigger then the sooner they will die of their own gigantism.
    I. Turzanski, Breda Netheralnds


    Where are the amateurs, the ones who run on an evening or weekend and who hold down full time jobs as well?

    Gotthard, Washington DC
    It is disappointing to see that many sportsmen in the games are professional athletes who do it just so they can receive huge sponsorship deals from large conglomerates. We can identify areas such as tennis, basketball and many more to see that these are played by overpaid professionals. Where are the amateurs, the ones who run on an evening or weekend and who hold down full time jobs as well? There are some about but it seems the Olympics is performed by elitists whose only goal is to get the opportunity to earn big money rather than the furtherance of the sport.
    Gotthard, Washington DC

    It goes without saying that the true spirit of the Olympics is dead. I understood that it was supposed to be a competition for amateurs - where are they? Professional and millionaire tennis/basketball/football players in no way can be classed as amateurs. What chance do real amateurs have?
    Laura Richards, UK

    Eric Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, represented the true spirit of the Olympics. Even though he didn't swim well, he participated on behalf of his country and that's the whole point. We watched a girl from one of the African countries run dead last in track (in 1996 Atlanta games). All of the other athletes had left the track by the time she finished, but as she ran her last lap, the entire stadium rose to its feet to cheer her on. That girl represents the spirit of the Olympics because all the nationalities in the stands, representing the whole world, pulled together for her, if for a brief moment in time.
    Scott Lewis, winchester, VA USA


    Sorry, but I cannot afford the USD$20,000 package for the Olympics, and that was the cheapest one

    Joe, USA
    The Olympic tickets have just become too expensive for even the upper class to afford. USD$650 for the opening ceremonies! My plane ticket and hotel for 3 days in London cost that much! Sorry, but I cannot afford the USD$20,000 package for the Olympics (and that was the cheapest package.)
    Joe, USA

    I am only one person who has given up on watching professional sports some time ago. Now, the "Olympics" are no different than any of our NHL hockey games. I agree fully with Ms Atkinson that the only SPORTSMEN are the people of the Para-Olympics!!!
    Ted Lochbihler, Mississauga/Ont/Canada

    I have seen the tears in the eyes competitors who missed the gold by a whisker. And I don't think money was the reason for those tears. After all the efforts they put in and expectations of their family and their country they carry, if they fail after getting that close, it would hurt. It is not all money, after all.
    Chandra Aluru, Salt Lake City, US

    While I agree that sponsorship often goes overboard, there is an area where it is also very important. Without sponsorship many young athletes would not have the financial ability to devote the amount of time and energy needed to qualify. HomeBase in the USA doesn't just buy advertising. They sponsor athletes, by employing them and then giving them a work schedule that allows them the time off from work to pursue their goals. In return, the company gets a tax break. This is the kind of responsible sponsorship that I would like to see more of.
    Amanda Bradley, Washington (state),USA


    There is someone who definitely understands the Olympic Spirit is more than money or gold

    Becky, Columbus, OH USA
    The Olympic Spirit of participation and unity does still show itself. Esther Kim and Kay Poe, American Taikwando competitors, showed it. Esther was set to win the qualifier in the trials to go to Sydney against her close friend Kay who had just been injured. She forfeited the match so that Kay could go. There is someone who definitely understands the Olympic Spirit is more than money or gold.
    Becky, Columbus, OH USA

    Those who miss the old-style, amateur-athlete-only Olympics are missing the fact that today's Olympic games feature athletes that are beyond doubt the best in the world. Before allowing professionals into the Olympics it was the left-wing countries "amateurs" (aka pros) vs. everyone else's TRUE amateur athletes. The results were often lopsided towards the paid amateurs of the left-wing countries. The Olympic Spirit is alive and well and resulting in more balanced games today than recent history has provided for us.
    Ben Gluckman, Fairfield, CT USA

    Sadly, the Olympic spirit is dead and buried. Professional sport has seen to that. How can nations other than the West be expected to compete with people who are paid solely to play a sport. I applaud all the true athletes and competitors who come to the games to experience the occasion and represent their country. Some will argue that the Olympics are about showing who is the best/fastest in the world, and that obviously professionals are these people, but isn't this an occasion to celebrate sportsmanship? With the recent drug scandals, corruption etc that have marred the event I personally have lost interest in the Olympics, even with the fact the so far Britain has won 2 Gold medals.
    James Jeffrey, USA, but English


    The spirit was truly alive and well in the thousands of athletes from all over the world

    Peter B., Oklahoma, USA

    I was a graduate student at Georgia Tech during the '96 games in Atlanta. Thus, I had the fortunate experience of having full access to the olympic village (GT campus) during the games. As a spectator, I agree that the olympic spirit has become buried under a huge pile of cash. However, the spirit was truly alive and well in the thousands of athletes from all over the world who came to take part in the games. Regardless of medal contention or country of origin, these folks felt like they were at the center of the world's attention, if only for a few week's time. I will never forget the joy and spirit that surrounded that dreary campus that one hot summer.
    Peter B., Oklahoma, USA

    I think Tom from Australia has missed the point. Its supposed to be country vs country in the games themselves not which is the best country to host them and to live in!
    Carol


    To this day the word "Olympics" turns my stomach

    Pete Tucker, Denver, USA
    I lived a block away from Olympic Village in Atlanta during 1996. The IOC and the Atlanta Committee on the Games were shameless in their cronyism and general disregard for the residents of the city. The homeless were arbitrarily arrested and "deported". Renters were tossed out of their homes. To this day the word "Olympics" turns my stomach.
    Pete Tucker, Denver, USA

    Man has always wanted to win, to be first, to be the conquering hero. That is the primary purpose of those participating in the Olympic Games. They do it to achieve personal goals and/ or for the love of country. No amount of money will ever change the human drive to win and be first.
    Nickolaus Mahlstedt, Greenville, SC, USA

    The rot started at Los Angeles in 1984 - "the first Olympics to make a profit". It makes you wonder how long it will be before we have the "Coca Cola Olympic Games".
    Bill Bolland, Bermuda

    We seem to have lost focus on the "individual effort" that is supposed to be the high-point of these Games. The Games are being used as a show-case of a country's prowess - economic or otherwise . The increased reliance on technological methods of training have undermined the chances of many sportspersons who don't readily get such exposure.
    Vikram Jamwal, Mumbai, India

    Pick one site, maybe Rome. Make the capital investment to build world-class facilities. This will eliminate corruption in the bidding for the games. Make the complex dedicated to health and athletics. Get sponsorship from the drug companies and let mankind benefit from the results.
    Chris Jones, Seattle, Washington

    The Olympic spirit is not dead, it's simply changed. New ways of funding the Games have to be found because the breadth of events covered has grown very large. The Olympic Games have moved with the times, perhaps some of the Luddites among us should too.
    Tom Bircher, York, UK

    The Olympic Ideal was yet another invention of the Victorians. The original Olympic Games, according to the latest evidence, were rife with cheating, drug abuse and money taking. It would seem we are closer to the actual Olympic creed than we have ever been before!
    Andrew Dowle, London, UK

    Big business rules the world and the Olympics and they don't mix well together.
    Mridula, Kanpur, India


    Eric Moussambani is the antithesis of Olympic Spirit

    Phil, UK
    The Olympic Spirit surely is to train for years, putting in lots of hard work, driven on by the dream of competing against the best in the world in the Olympics to prove to yourself that you have the talent and determination.
    The achievement of Eric Moussambani is the antithesis of Olympic Spirit. He only took up swimming a couple of months ago and cannot be said to have put in the effort and commitment which so many other people in the world have made who where not at the Olympics.
    Phil, UK

    I think the scale of the modern Games has forced the expansion in sponsorship, and without sponsorship a lot of athletes would be unable even to train. However, this is different from allowing professional sportsmen into the Games, as has happened with tennis, because the whole point of the Olympics is that it is an amateur competition and in theory is open to all-witness Eric Moussambani. Professionals are paid to train and paid to compete in all the other high-profile competitions - they should not have the right to compete on an equal footing with amateurs.
    Cerian, Leicester, UK

    I think this is just sour grapes. Sydney and Australians have successfully resurrected the Olympic spirit. They have outshone every previous host nation in organisation, environment, popular support, and Australia has outperformed every other nation in history with medals per head of population.
    Billions of tv viewers around the globe are provided direct evidence that there is one very successful, very liveable country, that excels in every endeavour. Eurocentrics will just have to get used to it.
    Tom, Australia

    Eric Moussambani showed the true spirit of the games. Taking part and expecting nothing, but with the urge to do his best. An example to everyone.
    Will, Stafford, UK


    The Early Greeks (the true Olympians) trained for years for the Olympics and worried about winning more than merely participating

    Mehdi Abdalkhalki, Morocco
    I think that the Olympics spirit is not totally dead. Sure everyone worries more about professional athletes breaking records and TV ratings, but let me remind you of one forgotten fact: the Early Greeks (the true Olympians) were also "professionals" who trained for years for the Olympics and worried about winning more than merely participating.
    Mehdi Abdalkhalki, Morocco

    The Olympic spirit is not dead - being awash with money, it is more perfectly matched than ever to the fascist ideal at its heart. Strongest, fastest, furthest... it is delusion to think the games are about co-operation and brotherliness. The creed is superiority and competition. The Olympic spirit is that of individual glory, worship of an ideal body image and of winning above all else. The Olympic committee and the global corporations, both accountable to no-one, are perfect bedfellows.
    Chris, Leeds, UK

    I think the Olympic Games are disgusting. When I read how you aren't allowed to take your choice of refreshment into the stadium, and that McDonalds can ban people from selling goods they deem similar to their own, and that this is all enforced by the Olympic Games Co-ordinators, we can see that the games are very little about the sport and all about advertising. The whole thing is soiled with greed.
    Duncan Drury, London, UK

    The Olympics is about seeing the best athletes in the world compete. It takes years of hard work and dedication to achieve this. Removing money and rewarded athletes from the games would reduce it to an also-ran event and kill much of the spirit and prestige this event inspires. Maybe we enjoy seeing people suffer for their success rather than being allowed to enjoy it?
    Graham, UK


    Sport is now a business and the individual athletes are now valuable assets in the eyes of companies

    Nick Evans, UK
    The Olympic ideal is a worthy one, but one which in the modern arena of sporting promotion and sponsorship cannot prevail. Sport is now a business and the individual athletes are now valuable assets in the eyes of companies.
    Sportsmen and women obviously dream of winning and make the necessary sacrifices to reach their goal, but it appears that financial reward has become as important as winning. Glory and money are the twin motivators where once there was simply the glory of winning.
    Nick Evans, UK

    Times change - with that sports change! Take a look at Rugby Union and Cricket where money now is the game and not just the name. Spirit has been drained from the Olympics, which I will agree with, but I still find it one of the most fascinating events in the world and it is exciting to see our athletes competing and winning against the best.... is that not refreshing?
    Warren Michael, UK

    I'll start by saying that I'm not remotely interested in sports, but I must say that I've always admired the Olympics in a way. While the drug-taking and corporate sponsorship knock the spirit of the games, the example of the magnificent Eric Moussambani gives us hope for the underdog. It's such a shame that he's been offered a sponsorship deal though.
    Pete Hazell, UK

    I read here that the Olympics is now performed by elitists. But wasn't that the point of amateurism? That the independently wealthy (who had both the time and the money for expensive training regimes) could claim sporting glory without having to compete with the proletariat? Please don't keep repeating this Victorian hypocrisy!
    Chris Owen, Alkmaar, The Netherlands


    The ancient Greek idea on cheating was good; parade that person in shame before the crowd

    Irene, Scotland
    Whatever happened to the idea that the Olympics is for amateurs? Having been to Olympia and heard the story of the original idea of the games in ancient Greece, I think it's time we got back to those ideals. In addition, the ancient Greek idea on cheating was good; parade that person in shame before the crowd, make a bust of them for the Rogue's Gallery for future Olympians to walk through on their way to the final race and ban not only that person but also their whole village or town from sending any other athletes to the Games.
    Perhaps the Greeks had a few good ideas we should apply today....
    Irene, Scotland

    What really brought it home to me was when the top tennis stars started to compete. How long before football in and the Olympics becomes another World Cup (and can you imagine how unbearable Beckham would be with a gold medal?)
    Keith Lomax, Chelmsford, UK

    Years ago their sport was their hobby! Has anyone any idea at how much work it takes to get to the stage all these athletes are in! Give them a break!
    Cathy, Mt Vernon, USA


    Why should millionaires be allowed to compete in what is meant to be a tournament for amateurs?

    Dudley K. Nylander, Freetown, Sierra Leone
    The Olympic spirit appears not only to be dead, but things seem to be going from bad to worse! For example, I see no reason why professional players should be allowed to take part in sports such as football and tennis. And there's talk that the next Olympics football tournament will rival the World Cup! Why should millionaires be allowed to compete in what is meant to be a tournament for amateurs?
    Dudley K. Nylander, Freetown, Sierra Leone

    The Olympics is all about binding nations together and forgetting political and racial differences.
    Paolo Galarrita, Manila

    For 99% of the athletes in Sydney the money is both irrelevant and non-existent. Only the very few command huge endorsement backed salaries, most rely on an understanding family and maybe sports body grants just to allow them to train fulltime and to get them to competitions. As for the organisers, they must provide brand new, world-class facilities in 6 years, and the local taxpayers aren't too keen on footing the bill. It's hardly surprising they sell sponsorship and rights to the highest bidder, and because the highest bidder is American we end up with basketball, baseball and beach volleyball. But we also get the greatest show on earth, all for the price of a Big Mac.
    Ian, Northern Ireland

    Eric Moussambani is a well-publicised example of the Olympic spirit. A lesser known person is Terence Parkin from South Africa. Terence was born deaf and his face was badly scared in a motor accident. Nobody even believed that he would make the finals. Yet he overcame all odds and won silver in the 200m breaststroke today. Congratulations Terence!!
    Theo Robbertze, Johannesburg, South Africa

    I worked for the LAOOC as a Senior Buyer/ Contract Negotiator for the "84" games in Los Angeles. It was a great experience and I personally feel that it was the LA Games that changed the whole concept of allowing the giant commercial companies so much power to totally change the amateur face of the games. The one person I blame is Samaranch. No person should be in office as long as he has, he's been treated like royalty around the world for too long.
    Carole Orpe, Torrance, USA


    The only true Olympians are now those participating in the ParaOlympics

    Rose Atkinson, London, England

    What happened to the rule that Olympic athletes had to be amateurs ? It seems that apart from some of the minor sports, the only true Olympians are now those participating in the ParaOlympics.
    Rose Atkinson, London, England

    It is not the athletes who are ruining the games, but the committee who decides to take on the corporate approach and make profit from advertising what is essentially a historical festival. The sportsmanship and competition remains strong as ever, the idiocy of the ability to only buy Coke, and use VISA are what brings the games to their knees.
    Rich, London, UK


    Of course the Olympic spirit is not dead

    Dan V, London, UK

    Of course the Olympic spirit is not dead - it's just that like everything else in the modern world, it has evolved from its original starting point. Why is it always the people from the affluent 'western world' who bemoan the effects of capitalism on everything. Without money there would be no Olympics, never mind its spirit.
    Dan V, London, UK

    It is a shame to see that the most famous gathering of sporting professionals has inadvertently been belittled by the quest for massive amounts of money in sponsorship deals by international brand names the same way that English Football has
    Matthew Owen, Chorley, Lancashire


    Hats off to Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, for reminding us what it should all be about!

    Steve, Bath, UK

    Whilst there is cause for some concern over the number of records being smashed, in general it isn't surprising. Modern sport science is evolving so rapidly, with new discoveries all the time about training and recovery. We know so much more about diet, and with the array of sports equipment available in the high street, we're all in a position to train like never before. I think the "winning at all costs" mentality is not just about money, but also related to patriotism. Certain nations are prone to strut their stuff, whether it's with military firepower or sprinters and gymnasts. The joy of taking part can at times seem to be an old-fashioned concept. Hats off to Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, for reminding us of what it should all be about!
    Steve, Bath, UK

    ... and buried. Under piles of money
    Peter Tallon


    Eric Moussambani: a true Olympian

    Jon Waples, London, UK

    Having seen the heroic (if much lampooned) efforts Eric Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, put into his completion of the 100m swimming heat yesterday, I have had my total faith in both the spirit of the games and that of its competitors and spectators restored. A true Olympian.
    Jon Waples, London, UK

    Yes, of course the money plays an important role in Olympics.
    Daniel Wong, Jiangsu


    "Chariots of Fire" was a myth

    Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)

    "Chariots of Fire" was a myth. Welcome to the era of unfettered global capitalism!
    Ubong Effeh, UK (Nigerian)

    Yes. Well I don't have any any more, and I used to have great passion for the games.
    Paul C, England


    Sportsmanship takes a back seat when the stakes are so high

    Martin Brady, Alton, Hampshire
    To most competitors the main aim is to win the gold medal in order to fulfil their own personal ambitions. In the last decade or so some disciplines in the Olympics have had the stakes raised considerably for winning or losing the gold medal, i.e. it is now not just about personal prestige but the also huge financial gain that can be realised if the gold medal is won. Sportsmanship takes a back seat when the stakes are so high.
    Martin Brady, Alton, Hampshire

    It is disappointing to see that many sportsmen in the games are professional athletes who do it just so they can receive huge sponsorship deals from large conglomerates. We can identify areas such as tennis, basketball and many more to see that these are played by overpaid professionals. Where are the amateurs, the ones who run on an evening or weekend and who hold down full time jobs as well? There are some about but it seems the Olympics is performed by elitists whose only goal is to get the opportunity to earn big money rather than the furtherance of the sport.
    Mark, Ulm, Germany

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console
    BBC RADIO NEWS
    BBC ONE TV NEWS
    WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
    PROGRAMMES GUIDE
    Internet links:


    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    Links to other Talking Point stories