The Olympic Games are less than a month away and the bad news just keeps coming.

Only this week, Russia named a track and field team who won't make it to Rio, Australia hired a private security firm due to serious safety concerns, and an Oxford study revealed that a host country suffering economic contraction would soon face a cost overrun of US$1.6 billion ($2.2b).

Throughout it all - throughout the paranoia about Zika, the unpaid police officers and, of course, the poop water - a question keeps recurring: are the Olympics more trouble than they're worth?

This isn't only a Rio problem, although, having barely scraped the surface, there is no shortage of those.


Did you hear the one about the skydivers attempting to recreate the Olympics rings, whose parachutes became tangled as two of the group plunged to their deaths?

What about the mascot - Juma the real-life Jaguar - who mounted a bid for freedom only to be shot and killed?

Or this headline from the Guardian: 'Mutilated body washed up on Rio beach to be used for Olympics beach volleyball', to which one clever cookie on Twitter responded, "Why aren't they using regular volleyballs?"

No, this is not just a Rio story; it's an Olympics story.

Once the final male golfer has withdrawn over "Zika fears" and once the final half-arsed construction project is complete, what is actually left to celebrate?

Ideally, the world's best athletes competing on a level playing field in an inspiring display of humanity, bringing us together through equal parts sport and sportsmanship.

But, in 2016, that all sounds sadly outdated.

We know now where those lofty ideals have sunk: to a one-sided competition between nefarious chemists and under-funded testers, to a level of corporate greed enriching many but leaving the hosts with little but superfluous stadia.

While Russia have hogged the doping headlines, after their track and field team were banned from the Games due to systemic state-sponsored doping, it would take extreme naivete to believe the issue exists only behind the old Iron Curtain.

To pick one example: Kenyan athletes were this week in crisis meetings after a man who has managed several of the country's marathoners, Federico Rosa, appeared in court over doping allegations.

When Dr Rosa began lending his services in 1990, only one Kenyan was ranked inside the world's top 100. Right now, there are six in the top 10.

And another: recent re-testing from London found at least 8.7 per cent of athletes' samples returned positive results. That is, positive for performance-enhancing drugs the authorities had discovered and for which tests had been developed.

But if the cheating is a departure from the amateur days of the Games, so, too, is the commercialism seeping into every pore.

From sponsors receiving spots in torch relays to no fewer than 59 companies finding an official association with the event, the Olympic mystique has in the modern age been auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Which wouldn't be so bad if the cities that bend over backwards to welcome the corporate partners were able to reap a reward of their own.

But Rio in June declared a state of "financial disaster" and received a US$900 million bailout to cover its mounting debt, at least taking consolation in being far from alone.

The cost of the 2004 Athens Olympics has been cited as a contributor to the Greek government-debt crisis, while Montreal took 30 years and required a special tobacco tax to pay back the debt they incurred in 1976.

And Sochi's budget blew out so badly in 2012 the IOC could barely give away the 2022 Winter Games, eventually awarding it to Beijing - which has neither snow nor mountains - after a host of bidders withdrew.

The Olympics are a unique sporting spectacle and, despite all the drama, this naysayer will be among millions enthralled by the action next month.

Yet, with Brazil throwing much-needed resources at what's essentially an exercise in frivolity - the results of which will likely be invalidated by the time we're counting down to Tokyo - the pros and cons list is looking a little unbalanced.