Tuesday, 7 August 2012

costa rica olympics

I cannot say that the Costa  Rican government of Laura Chinchilla is rubbing its hands at the lack of medals for its national team at the London Olympics, but it won't be too sorry either.


Given the government's financial predicament, if Leonard Chacon had been in serious contention for the Triathlon then it wouldn't have been the Canadian in front of him crashing his bike and losing him his place, but a government crony with free Olympic tickets sent out with a long pole to give him a shove.

According to law, Ley 7706 of 1977, Costa Rica awards a prize to any one of its nationals winning an Olympic or World championship in the sum of 156,000 colones (equivalent to 300,000 U.S. dollars).
Except it doesn't.

When Nery Brenes won the gold medal in the 400 metres in the world indoor Championships in Turkey in March this year the appropriate ministry said that while it had the legal obligation to pay out, it didn't have any budget allocation to do so.
The same went for Hannah Gabriel, WBO junior middleweight champion in women's boxing.

The government has, amazingly, vast sums available to corrupt officials and contractors to build a road along its border with Nicaragua....but sporting excellence goes by the board.

As neither cricket nor rugby figure in the Olympic sports I haven't followed events closely, but it has been heartening to see and hear how the enthusiasm of ordinary people and dedicated sportsmen and women have overcome the miasma of commercialism to produce an event which has been so good humoured and celebratory.
The participants have every reason to be proud of themselves.

But being in Costa Rica has brought it home to me how little chance poorer countries have of advancing their sports to World and Olympic championship level.
When I read of the funding available to the G.B. cycling group it makes my eyes water...but, realistically, these days it takes more than having the determination to do your best to win medals.
You need backing, organisation and top class coaching, which poorer nations just cannot afford.

So I was wondering, day dreaming rather, how it would be possible to alleviate this problem and it occurred to me that it would be a great gesture if the sports federations of wealthy nations would take under their wing their equivalents in developing and third world countries...let them have access to the training programmes and the equipment...and governments to push multi national companies to sponsor federations from countries in which they operate to allow the sportsmen and women to be able to train properly, to attain the heights of which they are capable.

If McDonalds were to sponsor a Costa Rican sport to allow its participants to train with the worlds best then I'm prepared to buy one of their products each week - a hungry dog would benefit too - and it would be nice to think, for once, that the only gesture made by rich countries to the poor was not one made with the fingers.


24 comments:

  1. Indeed. I have said much the same for years.
    And I go further - poor nations cannot afford to host the games (can any?) so I think the Olympics should go home to Greece permanently.Other nations can contribute to building a state-of-the-art centre, perhaps with training facilities, which would(should?) be available to smaller, poorer nations.

    Cue Harry Secombe singing "If I Ruled the World"!

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  2. I knew him a little through his daughter...he wouldn't have done a bad job of it...
    Brilliant idea of yours...put all the excellence in one place...and don't let a politician near it.

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  3. Brilliant idea and far more in line with the Olympic ethos than a free toy with every order of fries and a shake.

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    1. And the street dogs would love it...

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    2. Agreed! Great idea as long as we don't forget the street cats [and Greece has plenty who'd benefit!]

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    3. There don't seem to be so many cats as dogs here...but agreed...the moggies get their share too!

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  4. Finance for sport in the UK comes from the National Lottery as well as sponsors. If it weren't for Lottery money, British atheletes would not be so successful. You just have to see the position of Britain in the medals table pre Lottery and post Lottery to see how much of a difference it's made.

    I'm sure Costa Rica could do the same if it wanted to.

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    1. Yes, and the funding has been vital. Costa Rica has a lottery...but very low key and without the base of numbers as in the U.K. to make it as real power house for sport.

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  5. We have Whining Australians complaining now,that their medal chances were lessened by the lack of specialised coaches who they suggested were coaching budding athletes from wealthy countries. However, this lopsided Five Ring Circus will always be dominated by the greater populated Countries; or and those countries with an abundance of wealth.
    Ah, the good old MacDonald's Grease Burger, Referred to as 'Comfort food' in Australia costs about Aus/US Three bucks.
    How much would an under privileged Peon be expected to pay in 'Costa Rica'? for this er 'Dog Food?

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    1. About the same.
      Australia moaning about coaches being attracted by 'wealthier' countries...!
      Has their mineral trade with China suddenly collapsed or something?

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  6. There's always criticism of sponsorship in sport but these days it's essential. I can remember the days when sponsorship didn't exist and look where GB were in the medal tables then. I think your idea is an excellent one. Poorer countries really ought to be given the opportunity and what better way than the wealthier countries giving them the chance to get the best training. I doubt it will happen though sadly.

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    1. It is pie in the sky, unfortunately...but I wish it were not.

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  7. I like both your and Dinahmow's ideas. Greece could certainly do with a bit of foreign investment and a boost to the economy as well at the moment.

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    1. I like Dinahmow's idea too....set it all up in Greece permanently....but watch how quickly Greek politicians become interested in sport!

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  8. That's a good idea. I always try to buy products from companies who sponsor things I approve of, and I already like Macdonalds. As I have noted, they make the only reliably good cappuccino I can find in France. And their chips are much better than KFC's. So I'd be up at Mac's more often than now, for sure.

    And it would undo some of the damage that the aggressive policing of brands, and unfair allocation of tickets to sponsors has done at the olympics, too.

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    1. It would certainly improve their image....but something so simple would never appeal to the convoluted brains of their publicists...

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    2. I believe James Murdoch has been pouring money into the cycling - not a side of him we have been hearing much about in the latest scandals. I totally agree about how sad it is that talented people in poor countries don't have access to good training. I feel it might be more complicated than just agreeing to sponsor. To support individuals you would either have to remove them from the country or else build expensive training facilities for them in the country. And the latter would raise doubts about whether the facilities would be maintained and properly staffed by the government, or if it would be an endless and growing commitment on the part of the donor and it could never be left to the locals. The reason I am concerned is that I am shocked at the govt promising their athletes money they don't have. That seems either desperately corrupt or else terminally inefficient

      A horrid dilemma and very tough on the local people who have to be ruled by them.

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    3. You're right, of course, training would need to be 'out country' as in no way would proper facilities be provided, or maintained, or, in some cases, even built if money were the only thing provided.
      Sadly, when Costa rica passed the law in the seventies, the country had money. Coffee exports were booming, inward investment was starting up...all was sunny under the tropical sky.
      Then came inU.S. involvement in Central America, dirty money sloshing about, lunatic public employment schemes set up which were unsustainable when coffee rices crashed and finally, the rule of Oscar Arias............nobel Prize win and ruthless robber of the public purse in his own country.ner for bringing about 'peace' in Central america

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  9. you would be an excellent politician... of a new , non existent till today, kind !

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  10. You know I was getting more and more deeply and seriously impassioned about this as I read deeper and ever deeper into the narrative of this important, worthy post, its powerful moral message and the clear responsibility we all have to join you in arms and drums without further delay at the very steps of city hall in St Jose. I could even hear the rising, stirring chorus of heavenly angels building ever louder and melodramatically in my ears, then just as I was trying to claw myself up from the couch to salute your cause with waved napkin at full attention… I read the ‘hungry dog’ gag in the last paragraph, and fell about laughing. The cats bowls went everywhere, so I guess I’d better figure out how to use the hoover while the cats work out how to operate the can opener. Cats are ahead…

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    1. Cats win O.K.....even dogs know this....

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  11. Great ideas from you and dinahmow, Fly, especially after seeing photos of some of the neglected venues from previous Olympics, left to rot once the circus went home. I think even I could bring myself to buy a big Mac occasionally if it had such a positive side-effect.

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    1. I like dinahmow's idea...send it all back to Greece permanently.
      But I'd be quite willing to buy something regularly from the dread McD if I knew that the proceeds would go to something worthwhile.

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