My opinion: The Olympics are boring and bad and nobody actually cares about them.
The professionalized version of sports events staged at the Olympics are in almost every case more competitive and more entertaining than their Olympic counterparts: No avid NBA fan cares about Olympic basketball; no Premier League follower gives a crap about Olympic soccer. It’s not just an issue of the sport not being played by less-than-elite athletes—it’s that the differentials between teams are totally arbitrary and contingent. The teams that represent their countries at the World Cup are composed of the very, very best those countries have to offer: Brazil’s Olympic soccer team has gotten held to 0-0 draws by Iraq and South Africa, not because Brazil is bad at soccer but because the team is Neymar and 10 dudes he was playing pickup with last week.
The events that feature the most elite competitors in those sports are also the most boring. Coincidence? No. Track? Wow—running around an oval. Looks like they’re going pretty fast! Diving? Seen one, you seen ‘em all. Beach volleyball? No thanks! Too much sand. Most people are just trying to look at the butts anyway.
Also: Those aren’t sports; they’re activities. At best, beach volleyball is a “game.”
That is all to say nothing of the gross pageantry and performative patriotism that demands our investment and attention in these Olympics, so as to prove...what exactly? They are a vestigial spectacle left over from when the fiction of “sovereign” “nations” held sway—when nobody actually wanted to go to war with each other, but everyone still had something to prove, so they engaged in proxy wars to display dominance and conquest and character over everyone else.
The modern Olympics drape themselves in this early 20th century finery but at bottom they are, like everything else in this godforsaken global hellscape, a corporatist ruse designed to extract capital from suckers who think where they happen to have been born holds any meaning or significance.
The only good thing about the Olympics is the refugee team, although the brutal irony of course is that the competition itself has displaced some 20,000 poor families from their homes, which in turn will allow for real estate developers to build new neighborhoods and jack up property values.
Nobody actually likes the Olympics. How could you? They’re awful.