In 1948, after two Olympics cancelled due to Second World War, London hosted the Olympics for the first time since 1908. The '48 Olympics were held in a nation still racked by devastation, both human and economic, and rationing was still the order of the day.
No new facilities were built for the Olympic teams. The United States contingent were housed in an army barracks. Many athletes brought as much of their own food as they could. But yet the Olympic Games went on and proved to the world that the ideals of international competition and peace were compatible and achieveable.
While never perfect then or now, the modern Olympics has fallen a great deal to the powers of corporate sponsorship. While there may be benefits in training and transportation for some athletes, most of them--save the big stars like Michael Phelps--are much like their colleagues from 64 years ago, winning medals while scraping by working at jobs to support themselves while the big private media networks and the International Olympic Committee take home the real gold.
From the San Jose (California) Mercury News August 2nd Editorial:
"No one goes for the gold quite like the International Olympic Committee.
"The NFL and its Super Bowl? FIFA, soccer's governing body, and its World Cup? When it comes to crass commercialism, they're pikers by comparison. The IOC will rake in $6 billion from the London Olympics, and its elite governing board couldn't care less that more than half of the participants have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.
"Here's what the Olympic spirit means to IOC President Jacques Rogge:
"Any form of on-site criticism or protest is strictly forbidden before, during or immediately after the Olympics. The IOC insisted well in advance that Britain's Parliament pass laws giving it policing powers that would make Third World dictators jealous."
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