Jack Todd: Abysmal ratings for Beijing Games should send message to IOC

0

The Olympics that should never have happened are over. The challenge is to ensure that they never go to tyrannical regimes again.

Content of the article

There’s something about turning on the television early on a Sunday morning and seeing Chinese leader Xi Jinping and International Olympic Committee boss Thomas Bach on opposite sides of the screen.

Advertising

Content of the article

Here it is in one image, the once noble Olympic movement effectively bowing to the world’s most powerful authoritarian ruler. It makes you want to go back to bed, cover your head with blankets, and pretend that those ill-conceived Beijing Olympics never happened.

Unfortunately, it is not the case. The Olympics went ahead despite more than a million Uyghurs being held in internment camps (which the Chinese call “vocational and educational centers”).

The Games took place despite the unresolved status of tennis player Peng Shuai, who dared to accuse a powerful Chinese official of sexual abuse.

They took place with the absurd participation of the Russian Olympic Committee, a ruse to cover up the fact that Bach and the IOC did not have the courage to punish Vladimir Putin’s Russia for systematic state-sponsored doping.

Advertising

Content of the article

That decision came back to haunt Bach himself at the end of teenager Kamila Valieva’s disastrous free skate, when coach Eteri Tutberidze tore into the skater at a time when the 15-year-old desperately needed reassurance, asking ” why did you stop fighting? Explain to me, why?”

Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee reacts after competing in the women's free skating with coaches Daniil Gleikhengauz and Eteri Tutberidze at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022.
Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee reacts after competing in the women’s free skating with coaches Daniil Gleikhengauz and Eteri Tutberidze at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 17, 2022. Photo by ALEKSANDRA SZMIGIEL /Reuters

Throughout, Canadian athletes, led by flag bearers and gold medalists Charles Hamelin and Marie-Philip Poulin, remained focused and continued to win. Men’s Hockey? Once the NHL pulled out, all bets were off.

Canada fell short of the gold medal but still won 26 medals, a total that could rise to 27 if Valieva and the Russian skaters are ultimately denied gold and Canada advances to the bronze medal. Considering the effect of COVID-19 on all aspects of the lives and training of Canadian athletes over the past two years, this is an incredible feat.

Advertising

Content of the article

No one deserves more credit than the members of the women’s hockey team. With their sport assailed by a Toronto columnist as unworthy of the Olympics, the women responded with their most dominant Olympic performance, twice beating the rival American team.

It would be a crime to drive sport out of the Games. It won’t happen because people are watching. The gold medal game between the United States and Canada averaged 3.54 million viewers on NBC, more than any NHL game this season, making it hockey’s second-most most-watched in the U.S. since 2019 (Game 7 of the Canadiens-Lightning Stanley Cup Final drew around 200,000 more viewers) and a total of 2.7 million Canadians watched at any given time, according to TSN public relations – two remarkable totals for an Olympics that drew much lower ratings in North America.

Advertising

Content of the article

In Beijing, clutch scorer Poulin confirmed her claim to be Canada’s greatest athlete of the past 12 years, starting with her golden goal at the Vancouver Olympics and moving on through Sochi and Beijing, with beauty in extension to the IIHF World Championships in August.

There is no doubt that women’s hockey has its place in the Olympics. The question is where the Olympic movement itself is headed after the Beijing debacle and with the Russian Olympic Committee’s albatross farce around its neck.

The fact that TVs have been turned off in the huge North American market should send a message to the CIO in the only money that catches their eye. If the 2022 Olympics attracted an audience on this continent which was barely half of that of 2018 in Korea, the time difference was not the problem. China’s appalling human rights record was.

Advertising

Content of the article

The IOC will have to be careful and avoid tyrannical regimes in the future. It is now clear that the fiction that allowed Russian athletes to compete under the Olympic flag was just that – fiction. This did not change Russia’s approach to doping.

The Olympics that should never have happened are over. The challenge is to make sure they never happen again.

Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (14) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) and goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) and defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) during the third period at UBS Arena on Sunday, February 20, 2022.
Montreal Canadiens center Nick Suzuki (14) controls the puck against New York Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (25) and goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) and defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) during the third period at UBS Arena on Sunday, February 20, 2022. Photo by Brad Penner /USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, back in Canada: In a surprisingly short time, France Margaret Bélanger, Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes, Chantal Machabée and Martin St. Louis kicked and screamed the CH into the 21st century. The players look happy. Cole Caufield is a sharpshooter again. Hughes communicates like no other general manager since Serge Savard.

Hazy tributes to players and teams of the past will never restore the Canadiens’ status as the game’s dominant franchise. It will take years of hard work and an approach that is not rooted in a dynasty that ended in 1979.

Advertising

Content of the article

Nothing is guaranteed. There will be mistakes. But this team has earned our support and an end to the clickbait approach for Habs coverage and the knee-jerk reaction from fans who are far too quick to condemn anything this team does.

At least senior management is now operating in the right millennium. It’s a beginning.

Hero: Marie-Philip Poulin, Charles Hamelin, Brianne Jenner, Ann-Renée Desbiens, Ivanie Blondin, Valérie Maltais, Isabelle Weidemann, Kim Boutin, Max Parrot, Steven Dubois, Mikaël Kingsbury &&&& all Canadian Olympic athletes.

Zeros: The IOC, Thomas Bach, Xi Jinping, Eteri Tutberidze, the Russian Olympic Committee, Tamara Lich, Pat King, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria. Now and forever.

[email protected]

twitter.com/jacktodd46

  1. Chinese President Xi Jinping declares the games open during the opening ceremony Friday at the National Stadium in Beijing.  It is the third time since 2008 that the Olympics have gone to nations that should not have been allowed to bid, writes Jack Todd.

    Jack Todd: Games shouldn’t be a trinket awarded to the biggest bribe

  2. Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes, right, listens to interim head coach Martin St. Louis' speech during a press conference in Montreal on Thursday, February 10, 2022.

    Jack Todd: Hughes and St. Louis bring a lot of intelligence to the Canadiens organization

  3. A supporter carries an American Confederate flag during the Freedom Convoy protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions in front of Parliament on January 29, 2022 in Ottawa.

    Todd: Shame on sports personalities who backed Ottawa invasion

Advertising

comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively yet civil discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to be moderated before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications. You will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, if there is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user follows you comments. See our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Share.

Comments are closed.