2016 Olympic Games Golf Tournament in Rio

The protests this past week in Brazil over the amount of money being spent on preparing the country for both the 2014 World Cup Finals and the 2016 Summer Olympics, has already cast into doubt the wisdom of asking a single country to put on the two biggest sporting events in the world, within 24 months of each other.

 

Although Brazil’s economic status is buoyant, it is an economy built on inequality. You either have money and can afford the better things in life, or you do not and live in the favela’s in abject poverty.

In such circumstances, the wisdom of sinking billions of dollars worth of money in readying the country for both events, seems almost counter-intuitive.

 

 

Certainly the average Brazilian reckons so, with millions of them taking to the streets in 180 cities around the country to protest at rising costs of living, while money is pumped into World Cup and Olympic venues.

 

The issue has also affected preparations for golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016. The course, which was supposed to have had work started on it last October, saw major delays as ownership of the land on which the course was to be built was contested. Those legal hurdles are now out of the way and work is about to begin, but almost eight months behind schedule.

 

 

Indeed, some people were worried the course would not be ready for a practice event planned for 2015, a year before the Olympics. Although Rio organisers have said that they still expect the course to be ready a full 12 months in advance of the Olympic finals.

 

Once again though, you have to question the wisdom of the International Olympic Committee on their decision to reintroduce golf, specifically at the 2016 games.

 

Initially, golf wanted to be part of the 2012 games in London. Of course, this would not have been a problem. There are many outstanding courses in and around London and across the UK, even the home of golf itself at St Andrews in Scotland (below) could have been used to reintroduce the game to the Olympic movement. It would have cost little in comparison to building a brand new course.

 

St Andrews golf course Scotland

 

Due to Olympic bureaucracy however, Golf’s return to Olympic status was postponed until 2016, to Rio; a city that has no real tradition for golf and containing a population that, by and large, has no real interest in the game whatsoever.

 

This would be like building a brand new 80,000 American Football Stadium, complete with infrastructure, facilities and everything, in the middle of Pyong Yang, playing two games there and then expecting North Koreans to fall in love with the game and want to play it! It is a ludicrous suggestion, but it is one the IOC is claiming will work.

 

The IOC’s belief that the new course in Brazil, to be built at Reserva de Marapendi in Barra da Tijuca, will create a lasting legacy for the game in the country, seems somewhat far-fetched to me. Name a Brazilian golfer? Name a Brazilian golf course?  The names do not trip so easily off the tongue do they?

 

2016 Olympic Games Golf Tournament in Rio - Landmarks

 

This strange decision is now being felt, not at the managerial level at the IOC, USGA or R&A, but in the pocket of the average Brazilian. They now find themselves paying more in taxes to receive a poorer service from their government, simply to pay for items like a new golf course that the country may not need and which the vast majority do not want, nor will ever earn enough to likely enjoy the facilities of.

 

If golf had been introduced in London 2012, then the IOC would have a clear indication of whether the game has an Olympic future or not. It would have cost them very little to have put golf on as part of the London games in fiscal terms, yet the knowledge they would have gained from it would have informed their decision about whether it was viable to include it as part of the Rio Games in 2016 or not.

 

If golf did take off as an Olympic sport, then the IOC could clearly show the benefits of building this new course to the people of Brazil, many of whom feel they will pay for it and feel no lasting benefit. There would be tangible evidence to counteract this belief from London 2012, but there isn’t any evidence to support the notion that following 2016, Rio citizens are going to be queuing up at the first tee each day to try out the game.

 

How can they when the vast majority are being forced to pay more in taxes to fund the two biggest sporting events in the world within two years of each other and when the majority of the people in the city live in abject poverty?

 

The Montreal Games of 1976 was a success for many reasons on the track and field, financially though for the city and its inhabitants, it was a total disaster and the effects were felt for generations.

 

Given the global economic situation, the decision by the IOC to overlook golf for inclusion in the 2012 games was not just silly, but foolhardy and ill judged. The answers to the critical questions for future of the game as an Olympic sport could have easily been discovered then.

 

2016.olympic.games in Rio - golf

 

So while I welcome golf’s return to the Olympics, the IOC need to have a long look at themselves before they come up with any other hare-brained schemes for future games. The legacy of the Olympics should be one of sporting endeavour and positive benefits, not a sentence of higher taxes, poor infrastructure and sacrificing the needs of the many poor, to satisfy the needs of the elite few.

 

Golf should have been included as part of the Rio games, but only after it had successfully been trialled at a much-reduced cost in London 2012. Then any benefits from this both to the game of golf and to the local community could be clearly measured and detailed. It would have been easy to implement at a fraction of the cost of doing so in Rio.

 

Then your average Brazilian may not have been demonstrating and rioting on the streets this past week; they may have been tempted to pick up a golf club and see what the game is really about.

 

Images and Photographs courtesy of Rio 2016, Gorilla Golf Blog

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The Grateful Golfer June 26, 2013

I agree completely with your comments. Rio will be a tough place to test golf’s popularity as an Olympic Sport. As reigning golf medalists, Canada would like to see golf make a come back as an Olympic competition! Go for Golf Canada!

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http://bit.ly/2W9MlbE May 20, 2019

Traders do pay direct and oblique costs.

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