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The Olympic Games Effect: How Sports Marketing Builds Strong Brands, 2nd Edition
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Downfalls and Controversies of past Olympic Games
From John A. Davis, author of The Olympic Games Effect
- In the 73rd, 74th and 75th Olympiads from 488 BC forward. Astylos of Crotona earned fame as an Olympic sprinting champion, and earned infamy because he switched allegiances to Syracuse, causing the citizens of Crotona to rise up in anger and destroy his former house and statue
- In 388 BC, Eupolus of Thessaly bribed three boxers to throw their fights against him and he was subsequently fined and required to build six bronze statues of Zeus (the building of statues was a visible way to either honor champions or humiliate those that cheated)
- Rome’s Emperor Nero (37 AD-68 AD) found many of the athletic aspects of the Olympics crude, so he eliminated most sports, replacing them with arts contests featuring poetry, singing, and music. He chose to compete in the chariot race in 67 AD during which he fell off and clearly lost. However, the judges, sensing catastrophic personal harm, declared him the winner anyway, in addition to winner of every other contest in which he participated.
- In 1904, the American Olympic marathon runner Fred Lorz rode in a car for 11 miles on his way to winning the gold medal. He was subsequently banished from all future competitions. However, he was reinstated within a year after a convincing appeal whereby Lorz persuaded officials that he rode in the car because he suffered severe stomach cramps during the race and he did not mean to intentionally defraud
- During the 1994 US Olympic Ice Skating Trials, Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the legs after skating practice by an assailant who was later linked to rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband. Kerrigan still went on to win the Silver Medal at the Lillehammer Olympics, whereas Harding finished 8th. Less than a month after the Olympics ended, Harding admitted guilt in hindering the investigation into this incident and in June that same year she was stripped of her 1994 National Title and banned for life from the sport.
- After years of denial, Marion Jones, the American sprinter who won 5 medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics (3 Gold and 2 Bronze), admitted in 2007 to using performance-enhancing drugs. She was stripped of her Olympic medals, banished from competition, and served a jail sentence in 2008 for lying to Federal investigators.
- In 1998, a major bribery scandal surrounding the Salt Lake Olympics threatened to irreparably harm the Olympic Movement. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee was accused of bribing IOC officials with substantial gifts and money to influence the host city selection process. Subsequently, four IOC members and two Salt Lake City Olympic Committee officials were forced to resign.
- In 1999, the Australian Olympic Committee announced that US$1.2 million had been paid to 11 African nations in 1993, just a few weeks prior to the 2000 Olympic site selection vote. Both events rocked the IOC and the Olympic Movement
- Politics have often intruded on the Olympics over the years. The tragic 1972 killing of the Israeli Olympic team and coaches by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September nearly stopped the Olympics, but IOC President Avery Brundage decided, with the support of the Israeli government, to continue the Games. In 1980 the U.S. boycotted the Olympics in Moscow in a protest over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, the Soviet Union retaliated and boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 2008, protests over China’s handling of riots in Tibet caused a change in the Olympic torch relay route and inspired protests in support of Tibet in Europe and North America.