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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"
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John Muir, Stuttgart, Germany
"The Olympics used to be about good living now it's only about science"
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Kostas Laskaridis, Geneva, Switzerland
"Hardly anyone knows what the Olympic spirit really is"
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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.

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    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