Russian track-and-field athletes were largely banned from the Olympic competitions in Rio. The explanation was the rather widespread doping among these Russian sportsmen. I am sure that the tolerance towards these "tools to improve the results" is much higher than in Russia than it is in another average country.
But the decision to apply the collective guilt principle is hugely morally problematic. Also, it's crazy to present the doping as a part of the Russian identity – in the ethnic sense. Before Germany was reunified, the relatively small country of East Germany was often the #1 country at similar contests. A huge part of these East German successes was due to doping. Obviously, their Aryan race didn't prevent our DDR comrades from cheating in exactly the same way as some Russian athletes in recent years. The degree of institutionalization of doping was almost certainly higher in East Germany than it is in Russia today.
Pole vaulter Ms Yelena Isinbayeva (who retired hours ago) became the main face of the athletes who consider themselves victims of an unfair decision. She has won some nine Olympic-level gold medals, holds the current world record, and is considered a legend and the top female pole vaulter of all time. No evidence of forbidden chemicals has ever haunted her.
In the video above, from late July 2016, she cried in the Kremlin in front of Putin because of this elimination of the Russian sportsmen. I feel that Putin didn't particularly like this "crying attitude" to those decisions but it's likely that her speech helped to rally the Russian nationalism to some extent, anyway.
The Rio pole vault contest in Rio took place and she made an obvious point:
Whoever wins tonight will do so without Isinbayeva, it won't be a fully-fledged. The champion will feel it's not entirely gold because she didn't beat Isinbayeva.I think it's somewhat sad that this point had to be made by herself who is an "actress in this story" – and not by impartial pundits – but I still find it very important that this truth was pointed out. As she said, the winner didn't earn a "proper gold".
This competition in Rio – and several others – were clearly inferior due to the forced absence of the Russian athletes. The situation is less extreme but qualitatively analogous to the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Recall that a year earlier, the USSR invaded Afghanistan to fight against the Islamists and the West boycotted Moscow for that invasion. It was understandable. Needless to say, with the knowledge we have today, your heavily anti-communist humble correspondent would have sided with the Soviets against the Islamists.
OK, whether or not one politically agrees with the Soviets or the Afghani Islamists, whether he sympathizes with the invasion or the boycott, there's still one thing that is indisputable. The boycott (by U.S., Canada, West Germany, Norway, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Argentina, and others, 65 countries in total – the rest of Western Europe attended) has negatively influenced the quality of the Olympics. The Olympic games were turned into a second-class competition, not quite a global one. Exactly the same thing may be said about the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics that were boycotted by the Soviet bloc (except for Romania which also refused to occupy Czechoslovakia in 1968; and the renegade socialist country of Yugoslavia also attended) as a matter of revenge.
It seems utterly insane to me to deny that many competitions at these Olympic games were second-class events – regardless of one's opinions about the political questions that sparked the boycotts. A very analogous statement holds for the Olympic games in Rio. (Incidentally, similar political distortion was largely absent at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. Adolf Hitler has apparently had much more respect for the independence of sports than many PC and Russophobic people have today.)
I don't know whether Isinbayeva would have won the gold medal. But the probability of that is substantial, of order 50%. Maybe it was higher than that, maybe it was lower than that. (She only got bronze in London.) The exact numerical value of any probability is ultimately subjective so it doesn't make much sense to argue about it too aggressively.
Because Isinbayeva was very likely innocent when it comes to all the doping issues, it's right to say that the political decision to ban the Russian athletes almost certainly meant that she was robbed of a medal – and with the previously discussed probability, of her gold medal. You may translate the medal to money and fame and other things that people naturally care about. She was robbed.
It's not surprising that she has made this point. The competition wasn't a full-fledged global one. If I had won this castrated competition, I would probably remain silent, enjoying the gold medal that I was rather likely not to really deserve. But that's not what the actual medalists did. The Greek gold-winning athlete said:
I think everybody wanted her to have the chance to compete. But things are how they are. We had nothing to do with it.Really? Well, yes, no, maybe, it's a very subtle question. It's pretty much the same question as the question whether the Germans who were given apartments that had belonged to Jewish owners – who were sent to an extermination camp – had "nothing to do with it". You know, if they accepted these apartments, they surely had "something" to do with it. They were the main folks who benefited. The situation of the actual medalists from Rio is less brutal but structurally equivalent.
Of course that the medalists had something to do with it. They knew that a major competitor was banned according to a "creative" political decision – even though she has done nothing wrong – but they accepted the medals, anyway. The Greek winner and others could have told the organizers that they wouldn't accept the medals they were offered. The Greek winner could have convinced the organizers to give her a silver medal only – because it's reasonably likely that this is the medal she would earn if the decisions based on the collective guilt weren't made. But the Greek athlete chose not to do such a thing. That was a nontrivial decision and by making the decision, she turned into someone who surely has a "lot to do with" the decision.
OK, the Greek gold medalist Ekaterini Stefanidi has only claimed – very controversially – that "she had nothing to do with" the decisions that allowed her to win the gold that she could otherwise lose. The silver medalist Sandi Morris of the U.S. was more aggressive:
I definitely understand how she could be so frustrated. I can't imagine what it would be like to be in her shoes, to be banned from the Olympics because of things that went down in your country. But her comments can be disrespectful and hurtful to people who were out there tonight. It's kind of disappointing to hear things like that.I've highlighted the words "disrespectful and hurtful" because I think that these are characteristic adjectives in the PC jargon that is so widespread in the contemporary U.S. and that I simply can't stand. I consider these words by Ms Morris so shocking and disgusting that I really wish this lady the worst.
She has basically robbed Ms Isanbayeva of 50% of the difference between the silver medal and the bronze medal but she still has the arrogance to say that she's been "disrespected and hurt". I just find it stunning. Ms Morris is clearly one of the people who have robbed Ms Isinbayeva of a medal or at least a significant chance to get. Ms Isinbayeva has only stated this self-evident truth. So where does this nasty whining whore, Ms Morris, find so much arrogance to claim that she's been hurt and disrespected?
The contest was said to be an inferior one because it was an inferior one. If you use the word "disrespectful" for the truth, Ms Morris, then I must assure you that it's right to say disrespectful things. With these definitions, it's immoral not to be disrespectful.
Needless to say, this kind of arrogance emerges in more serious everyday situations of the U.S. these days – when it comes to affirmative action. Someone belonging to a group considered inferior by the PC cult – women, blacks, homosexuals, and others – is sometimes given a job or an award or an advantage etc. because of their membership in the perceived inferior group. And when someone points this obvious and unfair fact out, they not only fail to apologize for their cooperation with these unfair policies, let alone return the advantages they don't really deserve. They tell you that they feel hurt and disrespected for being thieves and crooks. They not only want the advantages they don't deserve; they want the advantages and the certainty that no one ever "dares" to point out the problematic events that led to them. I just can't stand these things. I can't stand when people who are clearly benefiting from some morally defective policies and decisions present themselves as victims – and especially when they try to attack the actual victims. If there are people in Russia who want some foreign cities to be nuked in retaliation, I understand these people rather well.
New Zealand's teenager Eliza McCartney took the bronze medal in Rio and said:
It down to who was there on the day. And we were there on the day and that's what's important.Well, it may be important for her but not for others. MsCartney may be motivated by a coach to think that every race is equally important and must be fought fully, and so on. But it's just some motivational babbling. It isn't really true.
Who was there was not so important for rational outside observers like me. What's more important to me – well, if I cared about pole vault at all – is that the Rio competition has brought little evidence that e.g. Ms McCartney belongs among the top 3 female pole vaulters in the world. The main favorite wasn't there which means that the competition provided us with no data on the question whether any of the contestants were better than Isinbayeva at the moment. Thankfully, no one can stop me – and billions of others – from drawing the obvious conclusions. If the organizers of the games wanted their event to be taken very seriously, the reasoning of mine is clearly a problem for them. That's why it could have been sensible for them to fight against decisions that have reduced the credibility of the games that they have organized.
The U.S., U.K., and China are the top 3 countries with some 105, 60, and 65 medals, respectively. Czechia is 43rd now – with the medal tally 1-1-6. The bronze medals have already beaten those from London but the more important gold and silver medals are much weaker than in London. Slovakia has 2-1-0, our brothers have no bronze medals but are 34th now.
The Czech gold medal came from judo – the first Czech Olympic judo gold in the history.
Judo became one of the most important sports of Czech filmmakers thanks to the comedy from the 1970s, "Joachim, throw it to the gadget" about a shy rural guy who moved to Prague and believed conditiograms (which show the bad days and good days in some cycles). He fell in love with a waitress who also did judo and had to register to a judo club. (This is not the most important event in the film but it's the most important judo-related event in it.)
His suit got attached to the door which is why he has impressed the coach. "Where were you before?" the coach asked. STS Chvojkovice-Brod. (STS is the State Tractor Station where he worked with tractors, and Chvojkovice-Brod is a composite of two typical countryside local names in Czechia, but STS also sounds like an acronym of a sports club.) The coach replies: "Must be a decent team." :-)
Czechia is somewhat below the average in the European medal tallies, I think. Pilsen has already earned a medal as well – a tennis bronze in the female doubles thanks to Ms Strýcová (the bronze medal match was a Czech derby and both pairs had a representative from Pilsen – the more beautiful Ms Andrea Hlaváčková, the daughter of the main brewer of Pilsner Urquell and a descendant of these top Pilsner beer bosses in the whole century, finally lost; she had a face injury after Slovak-born Ms Martina Hingisová hit her with the ball).
I am more amazed by some global numbers. For example, the whole Arab world – 420 million people (over 5% of mankind), many of which are very rich – have earned around 10 medals (Bahrain, Jordan, UAE, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco), much less than one percent. Many of them are rich and we often hear that the Arab migrants are full of energy and stamina etc. but when it comes to Olympic sports, their absence is almost as obvious as the Arabs' absence in science and other "peaceful and adult" fields of the human activity.
Our medal score is significantly worse than that of Hungary, Greece, Belgium, and several other nations of a comparable size. But to realize that we're still comparable to the whole Arab world whose population is 40 times higher (unless I have overlooked someone), is rather amazing. The Islamization of Europe if it took place wouldn't weaken just our freedoms, democracy, economy, prosperity, science etc. but our sports, too.
And we should really claim a fraction of the medals of swimmer Ms Katie Ledecká, too – assuming that Israel and Ireland will agree with terminating the charade known as the U.S. medals LOL. Her mother is Irish, her father was half-Jewish, half-Czech. Her surname is clearly Czech, reflecting the maximally patrilineal branch of her ancestry. The same surname is carried by Janek Ledecký, a top singer of pop music (well, famous especially in the 1990s), and by Ester Ledecká [-á is the feminime adjective: in Czech, we use it for the U.S. citizen Katie Ledecká as well], an Olympic snowboardist. These two people aren't quite unrelated, Ester is Janek's daughter. There are just 143 Ledeckýs plus 140 Ledeckás in Czechia. The name refers to "the person from Ledce", a small town (whose name is ultimately derived from "led" which is "ice"). One of the 5-7 Ledce villages is just North of Pilsen.