July 21, 2024

Paris 2024 awaits but will it be controversy free?

The start of the Paris Olympics 2024 is just a few days away and the so-called Greatest Show on Earth promises to be greater than ever. 206 competing nations, 32 Olympic and 22 Paralympic sports, 869 events, 15000 athletes, 13.4 million tickets sold, and an expected TV audience of 4 billion. It won’t just be on the track, field, pool, water, and pitch that records are broken.

While Paris will be the main hub of the Games, events are taking place all over France. The soccer tournament is being played in Bordeaux, Nantes, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Nice, and Marseille, while Marseille also plays host to the sailing regatta, and Lille the basketball and handball tournaments.

Most notable of all though is the surfing competition which, for the first time ever, takes place 15,000km away from the host city – in Tahiti. The French territory is famous for its legendary Teahupoo wave, which will provide a stunning backdrop to one of the Games’ most spectacular sports.

The beach volleyball is being held at the Champ de Mars

Some of the events being held in the host city will also have iconic backdrops. The beach volleyball is being held at the Champ de Mars in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, while the urban sports will be hosted at La Concorde, and the fencing and taekwondo at the Grand Palais.

It promises to be spectacular from every perspective and the organizers and IOC will leave no stone unturned to see it run smoothly and be free of any major controversies. But – big but – this is the Olympics and seldom is controversy and drama very far away.

Over the years, there have been some huge moments… some bizarre, some amusing, some confusing and, unfortunately, some tragic.

Here are a just few:

Boycotts and politics

Over the years, there have been many boycotts, almost always for political reasons but the most high-profile ones occurred in the 1980s. In 1980 and 1984, at the height of the Cold War, the USSR (as it was then) and the USA decided to boycott Games held in each other’s countries.

The US was the protagonist in this tit-for-tat exchange in 1980 when US President Jimmy Carter declared that his country wouldn’t be sending a team to Moscow in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In total, 66 countries dropped out of the Moscow games, although some were for financial rather than political reasons. It made for an event in which the gold medals were not necessarily awarded to the best athletes in the world.

everyone knew why the USSR and 14 of their Eastern Bloc allies were not in LA

The same applied four years later when it was the USSR’s turn to boycott the Los Angeles games. The official reason given was a ‘lack of security’ for their athletes but everyone knew why the USSR and 14 of their Eastern Bloc allies were not in LA. Again, the value of a gold medal was diluted for those who won them.

There have been plenty of other examples of the politics affecting the Games, including the Berlin Games of 1936, which were dominated by Nazi propaganda in the years preceding World War II; the China/Taiwan controversy in the lead-up to Montreal 1976; the ongoing dispute resulting from South Africa’s apartheid regime from 1968 to 1988; and, perhaps most tragic of all, the murder of Israeli athletes by Islamic terrorists at the 1972 Games in Munich.

But the controversies and tragedies haven’t been confined to off-the-track…

Johnson wins gold… for three days

In Seoul 1988, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson set a world record while winning the gold medal in the 100m but three days after the race, as the result of a post-race drug test, he was stripped of his medal.

his athletics career was effectively over

Traces of the anabolic steroid, Stanozol, had been detected in Johnson’s urine and, despite the sprinter insisting it was the result of a spiked drink, his athletics career was effectively over. In the years that followed, Johnson admitted taking steroids but not the one he was found guilty of using in Seoul.

Blood in the water-gate

Just prior to Melbourne 1956, Soviet forces had been deployed to quash a peoples’ uprising in Hungary. It was a bloody affair that saw 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet soldiers killed, so when the two counties met in an Olympic Water Polo match less than a month later, it was destined to be a bruising encounter. With the Hungarians still unsure of the welfare of their families back home, their anger exploded into violence during the match with kicks and punches exchanged between the two teams.

emerged from the pool with blood dripping down his face

The Hungarian’s were leading 4-0 (they went on to win gold) when Ervin Zádor found himself on the receiving end of a Russian fist and emerged from the pool with blood dripping down his face. It was the image that saw the media dub the match ‘blood in the water.’ The referee abandoned the game for fear of the violence escalating but not before Hungary had been awarded a 4-0 win.

Pentathlon cheat

The Modern Pentathlon is a multi-sport event that generally attracts few headlines but in Montreal 1976 it was front and center of one of the Olympics’ biggest-ever scandals. Again the Soviets were involved. Veteran USSR pentathlete Boris Onishchenko was taking part in the fencing discipline of the event when he came up against UK rival, Adrian Parker.

rigged with an electronic mechanism

During the bout, his épée triggered an electronic hit even when he had made no contact with Parker; something that was spotted by his next opponent, the UK’s Jim Fox. As a result, and following an appeal, his equipment was checked and found to be rigged with an electronic mechanism that enabled him to score points whenever he pushed a small button. He was subsequently banned and banished from the sport, his reputation tarnished forever.

‘Defeat’ for Roy Jones Jr.

The 1988 Olympics in Seoul were widely considered a triumph but the boxing tournament threw up one of the biggest travesties in amateur boxing (and Olympic) history. US light-middleweight boxer Roy Jones Jr, the red-hot favorite for the gold medal, made it to the final where he came up against South Korea’s Park Si-Hun. The talented American outperformed Park in every way except where it mattered most – the official scorecard.

ruled in favor of Park in order to placate a hostile home crowd

Astonishingly, the judges awarded the bout 3-2 in favor of the South Korean, even though Jones had landed 86 scoring punches compared to Park’s meager 32. In the bout’s aftermath, the US team unsuccessfully appealed the result but one of the judges, Morocco’s Hiouad Larbi, was reported as saying he ruled in favor of Park in order to placate a hostile home crowd. Two of the three judges who awarded the bout to Park were eventually banned from boxing for life.

USA three seconds from basketball gold

September 9, 1972. Munich. It was the basketball gold medal match everyone had hoped for and it had gone to the wire. There were just three seconds left on the clock with the USA leading USSR 50-49 when Soviet assistant-coach Sergei Bashkin ran to the scorer’s table loudly demanding a timeout. Despite USA officials insisting the timeout call came too late, it was controversially granted and the match clock was reset to three seconds.

at the third attempt, the Soviets used those three seconds to bag a match-winning basket

Upon the restart, the USSR ran a play to try and win the game but failed to find the basket. Further chaos ensued when it was decided the game clock hadn’t been reset properly and so the three seconds had to be replayed again. Incredibly, at the third attempt, the Soviets used those three seconds to bag a match-winning basket. The protests from Team USA were loud and vociferous but were unsuccessful and they refused to accept their silver medals. To this day, the medals are still in a Swiss vault.

The post The Olympic Games – Dramas & Controversies appeared first on Vegas Slots Online News.

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