Bioethics Blogs

Should we watch the Olympics?

Arthur Caplan and Brendan Parent

Cross-posted from OUP Blog, Ethics of Sport: Essential Readings 

We used to have to take time off from work –or at least leave work early– to watch the Olympics on TV. Now we can thank the engineering marvels of DVR and web replay for protecting our love affair with the Games from our evil work schedules. We are, rightly, mesmerized by the combination of talent, discipline, skill, and genetics embodied by the world’s greatest athletes. While admittedly luck plays a role, these elite athletes use strategies tuned over decades to prove who is the best on the world’s biggest sports stage. What is not to like? This year’s games promise to be epic with greats like Bolt and Phelps closing out their legacies, unstoppable rookies like Simone Biles planning to make their mark, and new sports like Rugby and Golf looking to reach new international audiences. Ready or not, here comes Rio 2016!

Well, you might be ready, the corporate sponsors are and the IOC is ready, but Brazil is not. The country faces unprecedented corruption and scandal, a president forced to step down, insurmountable debt, sewage-laced water, external and internal security threats, an incredible number of poor residents displaced due to Olympic infrastructure implementation, and half a dozen serious viruses including poorly understood Zika linked to horrendous microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Fortunately, we can watch from the safety of our homes. What’s that? You bought tickets when you heard Phelps would compete again? You need to make a hard decision about whether it’s safe enough to travel.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.