AARHUS, DENMARK - APRIL 04: IAAF president Lord Sebastian Coe looks on at the ASOIF General Assembly underway during the third day of SportAccord Convention 2017 at the Scandinavian Centre on April 4, 2017 in Aarhus, Denmark. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Olympics

Thought leadership: making Mandela’s words real

It was of course Nelson Mandela who told us all something so simple, so eloquent and so powerful.

“Sport,” he said, “has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to inspire to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair …”

Gerald Advance, 63: his niece looked like Mary Lou Retton

2024 Bid Cities

Real people: why LA wants 2024

It’s a no-brainer that Los Angeles can put on the Olympics. Everyone knows that. Twice before already, and to great success, in 1932 and 1984, so 2024 — like, LA could, if pushed, be ready by Christmas. That is the obvious starting point for an International Olympic Committee “evaluation commission” team, which on Wednesday kicked off three days of putting-on-a-show inspection.

The commission will see the Coliseum, Staples Center and more, all of which exist now, meaning no permanent-venue costs. All good. But what the members won’t see is what sets Los Angeles apart from every other place in the world. They won’t see it because it’s not a see-able thing. It’s a feeling. It’s the feeling the people of Southern California have for the Olympics because the Games are deeply woven into the fabric of life in SoCal.

The Athens Aquatics Center 10 years later // Google Images

2024 Bid Cities

Why do the Olympics generate such bad press?

The Olympics can and should be a wonderful thing. Further, the International Olympic Committee naturally wants to be viewed in a positive light for the Games and for the many good things it does each and every day around our world. But increasingly the Olympic movement generates — day after day, week after week, year after year — negative headlines. Why?

Corruption allegations tied to recent editions of the Games (Rio, Sochi). Government-underwritten cost overruns tied to recent editions of the Games (Rio, Sochi, London, Beijing, Athens). Stadiums and sports venues abandoned to rot in the sun (Rio, Athens). And more, way more. What kind of business model is that?

That was then: ice hockey federation president Rene Fasel and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at a news conference at the Sochi 2014 Olympics // Getty Images

IOC

NHL: Agenda 2020, drop dead

Agenda 2020, International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach’s would-be reform proposal, holds 40 points. The IOC members passed all 40, unanimously, in December 2014. Some two and a half years later, with the exception of the launch of the Olympic Channel, Agenda 2020 has proven a lot of aspirational talk and not much else.

The NHL’s decision to walk away from the 2018 Winter Games offers potent new evidence of the obvious irrelevance with which it views Agenda 2020 and, by extension, the larger Olympic enterprise. There can be no other conclusion. If Agenda 2020 held the power to effect meaningful change, what would the NHL choose when weighing this essential question: is hockey a brand or a sport?