Dan Gardner considers the public policy and politics of Olympic sport.
Stand back and look at Olympic funding around the world and it’s obvious that nations are locked in an arms race. Each seeks to beat the other by boosting funding but they find it is harder and harder to pull ahead by spending more. Worse, “it costs more and more money even to stay in the same place in the medal tables,” notes Peter Donnelly.
Now, does any of this sound like a fair athletic contest? Not really. It’s a funding competition. The “winners” are those countries most willing to take money from health care and jobs and other national priorities and spend it on the Olympics. Canada could win this competition, if that’s what Canadians want. We’re a rich country. We could outspend the Chinese. For a while. But would that be something to be proud of? No. It would be foolish. And shameful.