The Olympics

views updated Jun 11 2018


If professional team sports in the United States epitomize the corporatization of athletics, the Olympics, at least in theory, exemplify the opposite: global goodwill and celebration that surround the pursuit of athletic excellence for its own sake. This does not, however, diminish the fact that vast sums of money change hands via the Olympics. Nor does it prevent the pursuit of these vast sums, or political grandstanding, from sometimes overshadowing the Olympic ideal.

The XXVIII Olympiad took place over seventeen days in August 2004. These Summer Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of Olympic athletic events. According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in "Olympic Games" (2007,, 10,625 athletes representing 201 countries competed in 28 sports. Medals were awarded in 301 separate events. The 2008 summer games will take place in Beijing, China. These games will feature 302 medal events, one more than in the 2004 Athens games. Table 1.5 in Chapter 1 shows the list of Olympic sports as of the 2004 summer games and the 2006 winter games.

The winter games are much smaller than the summer games. For example, at the 2006 winter games in Turin, Italy, the IOC (2007, reports that there were 2,508 athletes from 80 countries. They competed in eighty-four total events in seven sports.

The IOC regularly reviews which sports are to be included in the Olympic games. A number of factors are taken into consideration, most prominently popularity and cost. For example, beach volleyball made its Olympic debut in 1996. Snowboarding was added to the winter games program in 1998. The IOC has also decided to eliminate baseball and softball as of 2012. The Olympic Charter limits the number of sports that can take place at the Olympics; therefore, sports must be cut to accommodate the addition of new ones. In "Olympic Sports of the Past" (2007,, the IOC notes that sports have come and gone from the lineup over the decades, including tug-of war (190020), golf (190004), rugby (1900, 1908, and 192024), and polo (1900, 1908, 192024, and 1936). For the 2008 summer games, women's boxing was eliminated, whereas open-water swimming and women's steeplechase were added.

Before the 1996 games the Olympics sometimes included demonstration sports, the purpose of which was to showcase an emerging or locally popular sport before a global audience. Winners in these sports were not officially recognized as Olympic champions. Some of these sports, such as flat-water canoeing and kayaking, were later added as regular Olympic events at subsequent games. Winter sports that have been demonstrated include speed skiing, curling, and freestyle aerial skiing.


In "The Ancient Olympic Games, 776 B.C.393 A.D." (2007,, the IOC explains that the roots of the Olympic games are in ancient Greece. Exactly when the ancient Olympics started is unknown, but the first recorded games took place in the city of Olympia in 776 BC. The games grew in importance over the next few centuries, reaching their peak in the fifth and sixth centuries BC. By that time, they had grown from a single eventa two-hundred-yard foot race called the stadionto twenty events spread over several days. Like today, the Greek Olympic games were held every four years.

As the Roman Empire rose to power in the region and subsequently adopted Christianity as its official religion, the Olympic games declined in stature. The games, which had always been a religious as much as an athletic celebration, were eventually outlawed in AD 393 by the emperor Theodosius (c. 346395).

1896Athens, Greece
1900Paris, France
1904St. Louis, United States
1908London, United Kingdom
1912Stockholm, Sweden
1920Antwerp, Belgium
1924Paris, France
1928Amsterdam, Netherlands
1932Los Angeles, United States
1936Berlin, Germany
1948London, United Kingdom
1952Helsinki, Finland
1956Melbourne, Australia
1960Rome, Italy
1964Tokyo, Japan
1968Mexico City, Mexico
1972Munich, West Germany
1976Montreal, Canada
1980Moscow, U.S.S.R.
1984Los Angeles, United States
1988Seoul, South Korea
1992Barcelona, Spain
1996Atlanta, United States
2000Sydney, Australia
2004Athens, Greece
2008Beijing, China
2012London, United Kingdom

Interest in the Olympics was revived in the mid-nineteenth century, when modern archaeologists began to unearth the ruins of ancient Olympia. In 1890 the French historian and educator Pierre de Coubertin (18621937) developed the idea of holding an international competition of young athletes as a way to promote peace and cooperation among nations. He presented his ideas at the Sorbonne University in Paris in 1894, and two years later the first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece.

The IOC states in "Olympic Games" that the inaugural Olympic games of 1896 featured 241 athletes from 14 countries competing in 43 eventsthe largest international sporting event ever held up to that time. The event was repeated in Paris in 1900 and again in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1904. (See Table 7.1.)

Winter Olympics History

By 1908, movement toward establishing a winter version of the Olympics had begun. That year, figure skating was introduced during the summer games in London. A cluster of winter events was scheduled to be added for 1916, but the games were canceled because of the outbreak of World War I (19141918). When the Olympics resumed in 1920, they included figure skating and ice hockey as medal events. In "Olympic Games," the IOC indicates that over the objections of Coubertin and the organizers of an Olympic-style Scandinavian winter competition that had been held periodically since

1924Chamonix, France
1928St. Moritz, Switzerland
1932Lake Placid, N.Y., United States
1936Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
1948St. Moritz, Switzerland
1952Oslo, Norway
1956Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
1960Squaw Valley, California, United States
1964Innsbruck, Austria
1968Grenoble, France
1972Sapporo, Japan
1976Innsbruck, Austria
1980Lake Placid, New York, United States
1984Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
1988Calgary, Alberta, Canada
1992Albertville, France
1994Lillehammer, Norway
1998Nagano, Japan
2002Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
2006Torino (Turin), Italy
2010Vancouver, Canada
2014Sochi, Russia

1901, the committee approved an eleven-day International Winter Sports Week that featured Nordic skiing, speed skating, figure skating, hockey, and bobsledding in Chamonix, France, in 1924. These games were a success and were retroactively dubbed the first Winter Olympics by the IOC in 1926. The winter games took place during regular Olympic years until 1992. Beginning with the 1994 games in Lillehammer, Norway, the winter games have been held every four years, alternating with the summer games. Table 7.2 shows the sites at which all the Winter Olympics have been held.

Politics and the Olympics

Coubertin's dream of a world made more peaceful through sport did not materialize. Moreover, wars and other political complications crippled the Olympic movement at several points during the twentieth century. The 1916 games were a casualty of World War I, and World War II (19391945) claimed the 1940 and 1944 Olympics.

Twice the Olympics have been the scene of violent acts of terrorism. In "When the Terror Began" (Sports Illustrated, August 26, 2002), Alexander Wolff states that at the 1972 summer games in Munich, West Germany, Palestinian terrorists took eleven members of the Israeli team hostage. An attempt to rescue the hostages was bungled, and as a result all eleven hostages, five terrorists, and a police officer died.

Shaila Dewan reports in "Bomber Offers Guilty Pleas, and Defiance" (New York Times, April 14, 2005) that two people were killed and 150 injured when a bomb exploded on a crowded Centennial Olympic Park at the 1996 summer games in Atlanta, Georgia. The perpetrator, Eric Robert Rudolph (1966)a member of a radical Christian group violently opposed to abortion and homo-sexualitywas not arrested until 2003. In 2005 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four consecutive life sentences without parole.


Even when the Olympics have taken place on schedule, they have sometimes been used to make political statements. Boycotts have been a frequent occurrence. The IOC notes in "Olympic Games" that the 1956 games in Melbourne, Australia, were the scene of two different boycotts: by the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland in response to the Soviet Union's brutal handling of that year's Hungarian uprising; and by Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq in protest of British and French involvement in the Suez crisis in the Middle East. Several African nations threatened to boycott the Olympics in 1968, 1972, and 1976, in protest of South African and Rhodesian racial policies. The IOC bowed to this pressure and banned South Africa and Rhodesia from participating in the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. In 1980 and 1984 the two major cold war powers traded boycotts. The United States and sixty-four other Western nations stayed home from the 1980 Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later the Soviet Union and fourteen of its allied nations retaliated by boycotting the Los Angeles games of 1984, on the grounds that the American hosts could not guarantee their safety. In 1988 North Korea boycotted the Olympics in South Korea, arguing that the two countries should have been named co-hosts.


Christopher Clarey reports in "Despite Disputes, Games Still Glow as the Flame Dies Out" (International Herald Tribune, February 27, 2002) that in 1998 information was uncovered revealing that several members of the IOC had accepted gifts from the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics organizing committee in exchange for their site selection votes. Ten IOC members were forced off of the committee as a result, and in the aftermath of the scandal changes were made in the process for selecting host cities. Questions remain whether the reforms have really eliminated the possibility of bribery in the Olympic site selection process. An August 2004 BBC documentary, Panorama: Buying the Games (, used hidden cameras and journalists posing as agents interested in securing the games for London to reveal that the IOC was still ripe for corruption.


The Olympics are run by a complex array of organizations known primarily by their initials. At the center of the structure is the IOC, based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC (2007, is the "supreme authority of the Olympic Movement." Its role is to "promote top-level sport as well as sport for all in accordance with the Olympic Charter. It ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic games and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of women in sport, that of sports ethics and the protection of athletes."

According to the IOC (2007,, the next layer of Olympic oversight, the International Federations (IFs), coordinates international competition within a particular sport. Track and field, for example, is governed by the International Amateur Athletics Federation. In 2007 there were twenty-eight IFs involved in the summer games and another seven that presided over sports in the winter games. These federations make all the rules that pertain to their sport and run the world championships and other international competitions within their realm. Each country that competes in a sport at the international level has a national governing body (NGB), which coordinates the sport domestically.

International Olympic Committee

The IOC (2007, was created by the International Athletic Congress of Paris on June 23, 1894, convened by Coubertin, who is generally considered the father of the modern Olympic movement. The original committee in 1894 consisted of fourteen members plus Coubertin. Coubertin remained at the helm of the IOC through the 1924 Olympics. The IOC was charged with the control and development of the modern Olympic games. Membership in the IOC is limited to one member from most countries, and two members from the largest and most active member countries, or countries that have hosted the Olympics. Members must speak French or English and be citizens and residents of a country with a recognized national Olympic committee (NOC).

The IOC runs the Olympic movement according to the terms of the Olympic Charter (September 1, 2004, The charter outlines the six Fundamental Principles of Olympism. These principles, as written in the charter, are:

  1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
  2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
  3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing together of the world's athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.
  4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organizations.
  5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
  6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.

The IOC has a maximum of 115 members, who meet at least once per year. During this session the committee elects a president for a term of eight years (renewable for another four), and an executive board, whose members serve for four years. The IOC (2007, is administered by a director general, with the assistance of the directors of the IOC's various units, which include International Relations; Coordination Commissions for the Olympic Games; Finance; Marketing; Juridical; Radio and Television; and Medical.

U.S. Olympic Committee

In the United States, building a team to represent the nation at the Olympics is the responsibility of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). Julia Cantone indicates in "General Olympic FAQ" (October 7, 2003, that the USOC comprises seventy-two member organizations. Thirty-nine of them are NGBssuch as USA Gymnastics and USA Track and Fieldeach of which supports a particular sport. Other USOC members include community- and education-based multisport organizations, U.S. Armed Forces sports, and organizations involved in sports for people with disabilities. Besides the Olympics, the USOC is the driving force for U.S. sports that are part of the Pan American Games program. The Pan American Games are an international goodwill sports competition featuring athletes from the Americas; they take place every four years in the year preceding the Olympics. In the United States the NGBs are responsible for selecting the athletes who will represent their country in their sport at the Olympics. In most events this is done at national competitions called Olympic Trials.

Besides its role in developing the U.S. Olympic team, the USOC is instrumental in U.S. cities' bids to host the Winter or Summer Olympics or the Pan American Games. The USOC may vote on and endorse a particular city's bid to serve as host. All U.S. Olympic Trial site selections also go through the USOC. According to The Business of Sports (2004), edited by Scott R. Rosner and Kenneth L. Shropshire, the USOC gets much of its funding from the IOC; in fact, 25% of the IOC's broadcast revenue ends up with the USOC. Of the money the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) will have spent for televising the Olympics between 2000 and 2008, the USOC will bank $418 million. The Business of Sports notes that the USOC also receives a large share of what the IOC takes in from corporate sponsorshipsmore than the other 198 NOCs combined. Besides these sources, the USOC also earns nearly $200 million per year through its own domestic sponsorships, licensing fees, and other joint ventures.

In "The Olympic Family" (1997,, USA Gymnastics explains that the USOC was created as a small, informal organization in 1896 by James E. Sullivan (18601914), the founder of the Amateur Athletic Union. The first elected president of the USOC was Albert G. Spalding (18501915), a well-known sporting goods manufacturer. The committee became a formal entity, called the American Olympic Association, in 1921. The name was changed twice in the 1940sto the United States of America Sports Federation in 1940 and to the U.S. Olympic Association (USOA) in 1945. The USOA received its federal charter as a private nonprofit corporation in 1950. The USOC took its current name in 1961.

In 1978 the USOC acquired its status as the legal coordinating body for the Olympic and Pan American Games through the passage of the Amateur Sports Act. The act also recognized the authority of the NGBs to oversee development within their own sports. In addition, the act mandated that 20% of membership and voting power within both the USOC and the sport-specific agencies be held by "recent or active" athletes. That year, the USOC moved its headquarters from New York City to Colorado Springs, Colorado.

As of 2007 the USOC operated three training centers, located in Colorado Springs; Lake Placid, New York; and Chula Vista, California. The USOC also maintains an Olympic Education Center in Marquette, Michigan, where athletes can pursue an academic degree without interrupting their training.

The Business of Sports indicates that the USOC has struggled financially in recent years, its nonprofit status notwithstanding. Its administrative costs and overhead are high, and it provides more than $80 million per year in monetary support to American athletes and NGBs. In addition, unlike most NOCs around the world, the USOC does not receive direct financial support from the government.


All the symbols, images, phrases, and other intellectual property associated with the Olympics belong to the IOC. In 2006 Marketing Fact File (July 15, 2005,, the IOC explains that the Olympic movement generates marketing revenue through five major channels: broadcasting, the Olympic Partners worldwide sponsorship program, domestic sponsorships, ticketing, and licensing. The IOC manages the first two; the others are managed by the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) within the host country, under the IOC's direction. The IOC indicates that the total marketing revenue for the 200104 quadrennium was nearly $4.2 billion, up from $3.8 billion in the previous four-year period and $2.6 billion in 199396. The IOC reports in Marketing Report: Torino 2006 (March 29, 2007, that the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin generated another $833 million in broadcasting revenue alone, and well over $100 million more in ticket and licensing revenue.

As with the major professional sports in the United States, the biggest financial driver of the Olympics is television, with a startling growth in revenue generated through television broadcasts of the Olympics. The IOC states in the Marketing Fact File that for the Olympic cycle running from 2001 to 2004, worldwide broadcast rights netted the IOC $2.2 billion, about half of its total revenue. About three-quarters of the total came from the United States, specifically from NBC, which paid $793.5 million to broadcast the 2004 Athens Olympics. European networks contributed another 18%. The rest of the world contributed the remainder. These proportions are not likely to change for the next several years; Richard Sandomir reports in "Ebersol Proud as a Peacock over NBC and the Games" (New York Times, July 6, 2005) that as of 2005 NBC had a $4.5 billion deal to broadcast the Olympics in the United States through the 2012 games. Broadcast revenue in the previous quadrennium was $1.8 billion, and the 199396 total was $1.3 billion.

The Marketing Fact File reports that 49% of the broadcast rights fees for each Olympics is distributed to the OCOGs responsible for that particular Olympics. The OCOGs consist of top officials from the NOC of the host nation and other key representatives of the host city and country. The other half of the broadcast revenue goes to the Olympic movement. NBC (2007, http://www.nbcunicom/About_NBC_Universal/Company_Overview/overview02.shtml) reports that 203 million viewers watched at least some part of its broadcast of the 2004 Summer Olympics, a new record for Olympic viewing. According to the Marketing Fact File, the 2004 summer games were watched for a total of 34.4 billion viewer hours, down slightly from the 36.1 billion during the 2000 summer games. The Marketing Report: Torino 2006 states that the total viewer hours for the 2006 winter games were 10.6 billion.

A second key revenue source is the IOC's corporate sponsorship program, known officially as the Olympic Partners (TOP) program. The IOC (2007, notes that the TOP program consists of twelve international corporations, which in return for their money are ensured exclusive sponsorship in their business category. For example, as long as Coca-Cola remains a TOP sponsor, Pepsi will not be one. As with broadcast rights, the United States dominates the TOP program; seven of the TOP sponsors are U.S. based. The Business of Sports notes that sponsorships accounted for about 40% of the IOC's revenues from 2001 to 2004. According to the Marketing Fact File, the TOP program brought in $663 million during the 200104 quadrennium. For the 2006 Winter Olympics, the Marketing Report: Torino 2006 states that the sponsorship revenue totaled 269.8 million euros ($372 million at the August 2007 exchange rate).

The Marketing Fact File indicates that the IOC received another $411 million, representing 10% of its total revenue, from ticket sales to the events and opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics during the 200104 quadrennial. The other major revenue source, the sale of licensed merchandise bearing Olympic logos and other trademarks, including Olympic coins and stamps, generated the remaining 2% of the IOC's revenue, or about $87 million. According to the Marketing Report: Torino 2006, ticket sales for the 2006 winter games generated 66 million euros ($91 million), and another 16.7 million euros ($23 million) in licensing revenue.

About 92% of IOC revenue is subsequently distributed to the other organizations that collectively make up the Olympic movement, including: OCOGs, which, as noted earlier, are the committees formed to run the Olympics within the country that has been selected to host the games; NOCs, whose main role within each of the 199 countries in the Olympic family is to field their country's Olympic team; and IFs, which coordinate and monitor international competition within their specific sport or family of sports. The IOC retains only about 8% of its overall revenue. These funds are used to cover the organization's operating and administrative costs.

According to the 2006 Marketing Fact File, the summer and winter OCOGs for each four-year period share about half of the TOP program revenue and in-kind contributions. Before 2004 the IOC contributed 60% of broadcast revenue for each Olympic games to the OCOGs; since 2004 it has contributed 40%.

In contrast to the IOC, IFs, NOCs, and NGBs, the OCOGs are temporary agencies. They disband once the games they were created to organize are over. The OCOGs are highly dependent on the IOC for their funding, receiving a substantial share of the IOC's revenue from sponsorships and broadcasting. OCOGs also generate revenue of their own through sponsorship, ticket sales, and licensing of merchandise. In the fact sheet "Revenue Generation and Distribution" (December 2005,, the IOC explains that even though the IOC turns over most of its revenue to other organizations, the OCOGs give only 5% of the revenue they generate to the IOC and retain the other 95%, most of which is spent on facility rentals and the construction and removal of temporary facilities.

The vast commercial activity that fuels the Olympic flame would seem to conflict with the philosophical groundings of the Olympic movement, which value the noble spirit of competition above financial matters. The Olympic Charter acknowledges this apparent contradiction, and the IOC has implemented policies designed to address it. No advertising is allowed in the venues where events take place, or on the uniforms of athletes, coaches, or officials. The TOP program is designed to generate the maximum amount of support with a minimum number of corporate sponsors, and images of Olympic events are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes.


One of the IOC's (2007, chief responsibilities is to select the cities that will host the Olympics. Olympic site selection is a two-phase procedure. The first phase is called Applicant Cities. Applicant cities must be proposed to the IOC by their NOC. They must then complete a questionnaire that outlines how they plan to carry out the monumental task of hosting the games. The IOC assesses the applications with regard to the cities' ability to organize the games. Criteria include technical capacity, government support, public opinion, general infrastructure, security, venues, accommodations, and transportation. The IOC then accepts a handful of these applicants for the next phase, called Candidate Cities.

In the second phase, candidate cities must provide the IOC with a candidature file. These files are analyzed by the IOC Evaluation Commission, which consists of IOC members, representatives of the IFs, NOCs, the IOC Athletes' Commission, the International Paralympics Committee, and other experts. The Evaluation Commission also physically inspects the candidate cities. It then issues a report, on whose basis the IOC Executive Board prepares a list of final candidates. This list is submitted to the IOC session for a vote.


Early on, the Olympics were considered an arena for strictly amateur competition. Professional athletes were not allowed to participate. This led to a number of controversies and disqualifications over the years, the most famous being the disqualification of the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon champion Jim Thorpe (18881953), who was stripped of his gold medals when it was discovered that he had played semiprofessional baseball.

Eventually, the rigid rules regarding professionalism became less practical. Many countries were supporting their athletes financially, allowing them to train full time and making a mockery of their "amateur" status. This put athletes in other countries at a competitive disadvantage. The regulations prohibiting professional athletes from participating in the Olympics were relaxed in the 1980s and eliminated entirely in the 1990s. This change allowed, for example, the development of the U.S. basketball "Dream Team," featuring a number of top National Basketball Association players, and the participation of National Hockey League players on Winter Olympics hockey teams.


Almost from the beginning, the use of performance-enhancing substances, known as doping, has plagued the Olympics. An early example was Thomas J. Hicks, winner of the 1904 marathon, who was given strychnine and brandy. Doping methods improved over time, sometimes with disastrous results. The Danish cyclist Knut Jensen died after falling from his bicycle during the 1960 games. He was found to have taken amphetamines. The international sports federations and the IOC banned doping in the 1960s, but for most of the time since then officials have lacked the tools to adequately police the use of illicit substances. Until recently, the highest-profile Olympic athlete to be disqualified for doping was the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson (1961), winner of the one-hundred-meter race in 1988. A few years later, it was revealed that East German sports officials had doped female athletes for years without the IOC's knowledge. As the problem of doping grew out of control in the 1990s, the international sports community responded by forming the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in 1999. WADA oversees the monitoring and enforcing of doping regulations at the Olympics.

WADA's creation did not, however, solve the problem entirely. Athletes in every Olympic games since its formation have been found to be in violation of anti-doping rules. In "Doping Cases Hit Record" (USA Today, August 29, 2004), Tom Weir reports that twenty-four athletes were ousted from the Athens Olympics for drug-related violations. The list included no American athletes. The last U.S. competitors to test positive for banned substances at the Olympics were the shot putter Bonnie Dasse and the hammer thrower Jud Logan, both in 1992. Since then, however, several Americans who appeared headed for the Olympics have been barred, or have come under a cloud of suspicion. In the wake of the BALCO scandal (see Chapter 9 for more information), the sprinter Kelli White received a two-year ban that kept her out of the 2004 Olympics. The sprinter Tim Montgomery (1975), also implicated in the BALCO affair, failed to qualify for the 2004 games, but in 2005 he received a two-year ban from competing and was stripped of a number of his past medals and results, including a former world-record performance in the one-hundred-meter dash. Perhaps the highest-profile Olympic athlete embroiled in BALCO was the sprinter Marion Jones (1975). Jones, however, proclaimed her innocence throughout the investigation. In "Doping Test Criticized, Defended after Jones Cleared" (USA Today, September 8, 2006), Dick Patrick notes that she was finally cleared of the charges in 2006, after the results of further testing turned up negative. However, the article "Marion Jones Running out of Money" (Boston Globe, June 25, 2007) reports that the ordeal cost Jones hundreds of thousands of dollars in endorsements and appearance fees, and thousands more in legal expenses, bringing her to the brink of financial ruin. In October 2007 Jones admitted to having used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, in which she won three gold medals and two bronze. Facing pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee, she surrendered her Olympic medals and was retroactively disqualified from all events dating back to September 1, 2000.


Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for athletic training and competition for people with developmental disabilities. According to the Special Olympics, in "From Backyard Camp to Global Movement: The Beginnings of Special Olympics" (2007,, the organization serves more than 2.5 million athletes in at least 165 countries. Participants may train or compete in any of thirty Olympic-style summer and winter sports.

The Special Olympics movement began in the summer of 1968, when the First International Special Olympics were held at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, home of the National Football Leagues's Chicago Bears. The roots of the Special Olympics go back to 1962, when Eunice Mary Kennedy Shriver (1920), the sister of President John F. Kennedy (19171963), started a day camp for developmentally disabled children. In June of that year Shriver invited thirty-five boys and girls to Camp Shriver at Timberlawn, her home in Rockville, Maryland. Her idea was that children who were cognitively impaired were capable of accomplishing much more than was generally believed at the time, if they were given opportunities to do so. Building on Camp Shriver, Shriver began to actively promote the notion of involving people with disabilities in physical activities and competition. Through the Kennedy Foundation, she targeted grants to universities, community centers, and recreation departments that created such opportunities. The foundation helped fund eleven camps similar to Camp Shriver across the country in 1963. By 1969 thirty-two camps serving ten thousand children were being supported by the foundation.

In 1967 the Kennedy Foundation worked with the Chicago Park District to organize a citywide track meet for mentally disabled people that was modeled on the Olympics. The first Special Olympics at Soldier Field attracted one thousand athletes from twenty-six states and Canada, who competed in track and field, floor hockey, and aquatics.

In "World Games: List of Special Olympics World Games" (2007,, the Special Olympics states that by the Fourth International Special Olympics Summer Games, which took place at Central Michigan University in August 1975, the number of participants had more than tripled to thirty-two hundred, representing ten countries. The games were broadcast to a nationwide audience on the television show CBS Sports Spectacular. The Special Olympics Winter Games were launched two years later, with about five hundred athletes competing in skating and skiing events at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The Tenth Special Olympics World Summer Games, held from June to July 1999 in Raleigh-Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, attracted 7,000 athletes from 150 countries. The games featured nineteen sports by this time. In the press release "The 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games Set to Take Place in Shanghai, China" (September 21, 2007,, the Special Olympics notes that the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, China (October 211, 2007), was expected to serve nearly 7,500 athletes from 165 countries. The Special Olympics World Winter Games will take place in February 2009 in Boise, Idaho.

In "Celebrating Growth: Adding It Up" (2007,, Andrei Chursov of the Special Olympics reports that by December 2005 nearly 2.3 million Special Olympics athletes actively participated in training sessions and athletic competitions across the world. This represented a 129 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2005. For the last few years, the fastest growth in Special Olympics participation has taken place in Africa, East Asia, the Asian Pacific, and the Middle East.

In 1988 the IOC formally recognized the Special Olympics, signing an agreement proclaiming its support. The Special Olympics also has a formal relationship with the USOC and has been designated as the National Governing Body/Disabled Sports Organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities. The Special Olympics has other relationships, some of them formal, others less so, with the NOCs of many other nations. Furthermore, the Special Olympics has links with the IFs and NGBs that govern individual sports. Competition must be in accordance with the rules of these organizations, except in cases where they conflict with the Special Olympics' own rules; in such instances, Special Olympics rules take precedence.


While the Special Olympics serves people with mental disabilities, athletes with physical disabilities, including mobility limitations, amputees, and people with visual disabilities and cerebral palsy, may compete in the Paralympics. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC; September 25, 2007, notes that the concept for the Paralympics grew out of a 1948 event called the Stoke Mandeville Games, a competition for World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries. The first Olympic-style competition for people with physical disabilities took place in 1960 in Rome. These became the Paralympic games. The Winter Paralympics were added in 1976.

Unlike the Special Olympics, the Paralympics have always been held in the same year as the Olympic games. Since the 1988 summer games in Seoul, South Korea, and the 1992 winter games in Albertville, France, the Paralympics have been held in the same venues as well. This arrangement has been cemented in place by an agreement reached with the IOC in 2001. Since the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, both the Olympic and Paralympic games have been set up by the same organizing committee as well. Paralympic athletes live in the same Olympic village with the same food and medical facilities as their Olympic counterparts, and the ticketing, technology, and transportation systems are shared. A total of 3,806 athletes representing 136 countries competed in the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Greece. In the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin, 474 athletes competed. There were fifty-eight medal events in the sports of alpine skiing, ice sledge hockey, Nordic skiing, and wheelchair curling. In the brochure Spirit in Motion (2003,, the IPC explains that it oversees the Paralympics, performing much the same role as the IOC does for the Olympics. The IPC consists of 160 national Paralympic committees and five disability-specific international sports federations, similar to the IFs that oversee specific Olympic sports. The national Paralympics organization for the United States is U.S. Paralympics, which is a division of the USOC.


Besides the Special Olympics and the Paralympics, the IOC also sanctions the Deaflympics, which have existed since 1924almost as long as the Olympics themselves. The first Deaflympics, organized by the International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD; 2007,, were held in Paris that year. The winter games were added in 1949.

According to the ICSD (2007,, 2,150 deaf athletes from 70 countries participated in the Twentieth Summer Games, held in Melbourne, Australia, in January 2005. The Sixteenth Winter Games, held in Salt Lake City in 2007, were expected to host 298 athletes from 23 different nations. The ICSD (2007, explains that athletes must have a hearing loss of at least fifty-five decibels in their better ear to qualify for the Deaflympics. To ensure a level playing field, hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other devices that augment hearing are not used during the competition.

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