I saw a brief promo clip thing on Sky the other night about the upcoming Olympic Games which are set to be staged in Rio de Janiero and one word came into my mind... optimism.

They are counting on the venues being ready and they are counting on the possibility that people will turn up.

The smear of drug use along with the fear of disease has already led to a string of athletes pulling the pin... and they haven't even lit the great flame thing. That's probably because it's unlikely to be ready yet.

It is likely to be number 73 on a probable list of about 314 Olympic venue projects awaiting completion.


Mmm, lighting the flame... it could blow every gas main in the immediate neighbourhood... or set fire to the air itself.

Oh yes I'm being a tad savage here but it is very difficult not to fall into the sea of cynicism when the subject of the Olympics comes up - especially given the way it has morphed over the past half century.

Back in the very earliest of days (when the idea of staging a global sporting event inspired by the Olympians of ancient Greece was taken up) there were nine sports contested.

That was in 1896 and they were, of course, very traditional pursuits.

The track and field things and the wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, weight-lifting and wrestling and the like.

The only interloper if you like was tennis.

Traditional sports contested by amateurs within very average, but satisfactory, competition venues.

I think the word 'average' is terribly underrated.


When you hear some sort of reaction to something and the word 'average' is used many may tend to think that there is or was little going for whatever the word was used to describe,

I was average at sport at school and I was equally average at academics but I managed to make the Tech' U23s and found a job ok.

No one could shovel flour into bags or unload cartons of sultanas like young Moroney.

And recently I was noted in medical terms as being of 'average' build... and I was very happy with that.

So I reckon an average stadium or pool or water expanse would be fine and dandy - but of course that all goes against one of the Olympic committee's steadfast staging rules that the host county must submit itself to virtual bankruptcy and serious internal strife amongst the needy and struggling in order to hold the event.

They build colossal event centres that are rarely likely to ever be used again... and meanwhile the general populace are deemed to be invisible.

Money gets spent... on an event which now features a remarkable 28 different sports with many of them now the domain of professionals, and many of them already possessing world championships of their own.

Soccer, tennis, golf, sevens rugby, beach volleyball and handball? They are not Olympic sports in my mind.

The likes of rowing, judo, gymnastics, archery... the dyed-in-the-wool traditional competition jobs get my nod. But then I guess they (the committee) are covering their bases and bets - they need to create a "wow" event to pay some seriously "wow" bills, but it all seems to me to be commercialised to the hilt and money, not medals, are in the bullseye sights.

Watching people get forcibly shifted from their humble but happy homes so the Beijing Olympic venues could be built in a sort of "beat this" approach from the organisers wasn't good viewing. It's happened over there in Rio as well. Not happy scenes.

That sort of gets etched into my mind when the images of the actual event begin to get rolled out, and I have to honestly say that I won't be watching much of it... if indeed it does get under way on time.

The magic just seems to have gone.

Unless of course they add a couple more sports from Olympic left field... like the 100m sprint to the nearest pharmacy for some additional "training" for the following 200m sprint.

And 'tossing the 4x2'... last minute construction of the stadium doorways.

Or 'spot the rowing lane markers'... amidst the flotsam.

I think (as many people arriving in the traffic chaos of Rio will also do) the Olympics may have lost its way.

- Roger Moroney is an award-winning journalist for Hawke's Bay Today and observer of the slightly off-centre.