The Olympic Jinx

Olympic losers – the misery of past hosts

Lee Wellings, Al Jazeera

August 6, 2012

The most senior Australian member of the International Olympic Committee, former Olympian Kevin Gosper has said the failure to win gold medals results from cuts to government funding of Olympic sports in 2009.

‘You’ve got to put money in there. That pays for coaches, it pays for international competition. It’s the difference between gold and silver.’

But Australia are not the only nation suffering funding cuts in these austere times.

Spain’s Olympics so far has been grim – 39th in the medal table at the time of writing. I’ve seen and spoken to Spanish supporters in the Olympic Park and spirits remain high amongst people whose football team dominate the world.

At these Olympics their football team was eliminated without scoring a goal – summing up their first 10 days at the Games where no golds and just three medals came their way.

Which brings us to Greece. Hosts eight years ago they have just two bronzes to show for their efforts so far and are out of the top 50 in the medals table. They brought a team weakened to just over 100 members by the crippling economic problems and their modest performances are completely unsurprising.

So bad were their finances after the Athens games that the IOC have had to acknowledge the part of the Olympics in their demise. They told me the problems in Greece are less than two per cent because of them hosting. Less than two per cent of Greece’s debt amounts to a big problem.

Greece, Spain, Australia. Three of the last five Olympic hosts with one gold between them.

It’s a warning to governments in any host nation from Britain to Brazil.

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