Design flaws of the Olympics



Publication Details

Martin, B. (2000). Design flaws of the Olympics. Social Alternatives, 19 (2, April), 19-23.

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Social Alternatives


The modern Olympics were established with the highest ideals, including fostering international reconciliation. Yet in practice the Olympics have become the plaything of powerful interest groups, especially governments and corporations. So great is the divergence between rhetoric and reality that it makes sense to examine the assumptions underlying the design of the games. Help in explaining the Olympic trajectory may be found by looking for ‘design flaws’, namely problematical assumptions inherent in the conception of the games.

A casual spectator might be forgiven for thinking that problems with the Olympics are relatively minor. There are scandals involving drug-taking and bribery, to be sure, but this does little to tarnish the overwhelming spectacle involving participation by thousands of dedicated athletes from around the world. A closer look, though, shows that appearances hide a more sordid reality.

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