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Monday, July 18, 2011

A Statist and Corporate Juggernaut has Destroyed the Olympics Movement

The following story makes clear that China is engaged in child abuse for the sake of Olympic Gold.  We suspect that to some degree that is occurring in other nations as well. 

There is an excellent summary here of the holistic and noble ideals that inspired the ancient Olympics and moved Pierre de Coubertin to revive them in the 19th century.  Unfortunately, the founders' intent to develop the whole person - body, mind and spirit - has been transformed by a statist and corporate juggernaut into something deformed that in too many cases is unhealthy and destructive to the athletes.  It's long past time to reform the Olympic Movement, remove the governmental and corporate influences, and restore the intent of its ancient and modern founders.  That refocus will do far more for the life of participating nations than will the accumulation of gold medals.

China has changed dramatically since it began reforming its Communist system three decades ago. But one vestige of Soviet-style central planning remains in its "juguo" or "whole nation" sports system.
Outsiders who have glimpsed inside the Chinese National Gymnastics centre, like Sir Matthew Pinsent, have been dismayed by what they saw.  Photo: PA
ByMalcolm Moore

Under the "whole nation" system, China roots out talented young children and puts them in special academies from as young as four years old.

If they are able to progress, athletes who make the cut are put into a relentless training programme, filled with targets they must regularly hit, and paid by the government a monthly wage of between 1,000 yuan and 3,000 yuan a month (£96 to £288).

Each year, the best athletes are sent to national training centres in Beijing, where they compete to enter China's national team. If they succeed, they will move with their families into the training centre and live there all year round.

Outsiders who have glimpsed inside the Chinese National Gymnastics centre, like Sir Matthew Pinsent, have been dismayed by what they saw.

"I know it is gymnastics and that sport has to start its athletes young," he said, before the Beijing games. "But I have to say I was really shocked. I do think those kids are being abused." One note, found pinned to the wall of the training centre before the Beijing Olympics simply read: "Leaders put pressure on us, subordinates put pressure on us, pressure each other. Pressure yourself. There will be no breakthrough without the hardest hardship. You cannot be a champion without going through the ultimate pressure".
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For as long as they are successful, the national team members benefit from perks including air tickets for their parents to watch them compete and, in some cases, sponsorship deals.

Gymnasts who win medals in international competitions, or with national titles, can attend university after their career ends, with the tuition paid for by the state.

The ones who do not win medals, however, have to take the notoriously difficult university entrance exams.

The success of the whole nation scheme has been evident from China's ever-rising tally of gold medals at successive Olympic Games, culminating in Beijing when China won 51 golds to the US' 36 and Russia's 23.

Since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, China also adopted Project 119, a plan to boost its gold medal haul by pouring funding into sports that the country has traditionally been weaker at: track-and-field, boxing, swimming and rowing, among others.

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