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Political Editors / February 21, 2022

In Brief: Worst. Olympics. Ever.

From the country that brought us COVID and genocide to a corrupt and inept IOC, the 2022 Olympics were a disaster.

Not long after the 2022 Winter Genocide Olympics began, our Douglas Andrews reported on the tanking ratings for the spectacle. National Review’s Jim Geraghty also noticed the “cataclysmic loss of audience.” And he has some thoughts about that:

No, it’s not only a viewer boycott of China that’s driving the low ratings, but it’s hard to believe that it’s not a factor. Viewers around the world have a lot of reasons for antipathy toward China these days — from the ongoing Uyghur genocide, to the crackdown on Hong Kong, to the aggressive moves towards Taiwan, to that virus that started in Wuhan which has killed almost 6 million people around the world officially and perhaps many, many more.

There are no live audiences or cheering crowds at the events, a television correspondent got dragged away on air, waiters and bartenders in the hotels are wearing full hazmat suits, and there’s not even the usual pretty scenery — the ski-jump platform was built next to a steel plant with structures that reminded American audiences of nuclear reactors. There’s something absurdly dystopian about this whole debacle.

The venue is indeed a huge factor, if not the sole reason. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has long insisted that even corrupt and cheating regimes like China and Russia should not only participate in the Olympics but host them (the ban for Russian athletes competing under the Russian flag notwithstanding). Indeed, on that note, he delves into the scandal surrounding Kamila Valieva, “the 15-year-old Russian figure-skating prodigy.”

Valieva tested positive for the heart drug trimetazidine on December 25 at the Russian nationals; the test results were only delivered from a Swedish lab last week, after Valieva helped Russia win gold in the team figure-skating event. “The IOC ruled there would not be a medal ceremony for the team event, in which Russia won gold and the U.S. won silver. If the Russian team is eventually disqualified over the positive drug test, the Americans will move up to gold, Japan will win silver, and Canada will win bronze.” When Valieva competed in her free skate, she fell apart, falling twice and finishing in fourth place.

No one believes that a 15-year-old girl would obtain and take a performance-enhancing substance on her own; someone had to have supplied it to her.

NBC anchor Mike Tirico and figure-skating analyst and gold medalist Tara Lipinski both slammed the IOC and the adults in Valieva’s life.

Give NBC Sports a little credit for calling out the IOC on air. Maybe NBC is concluding that operating as a de facto public-relations firm for a spectacularly corrupt and increasingly incompetent Olympic committee just isn’t worth it anymore. The ratings aren’t high enough, the advertisers aren’t happy enough, and NBC Sports employees no doubt want to broadcast unforgettable human triumphs — not to try to polish a turd and implausibly assure viewers at home that the games are fair, free, and abiding under the rules.

In short, Geraghty concludes:

These games have been a debacle, and the IOC was warned. Adam Kilgore, the Washington Post’s correspondent in Beijing, wrote [last week] that the games are concluding under “a pall of pervasive joylessness” and noted that “athletes, officials and media members [are] shuttled from hotels to venues, forbidden to see the host city except out of windows.” What was the point of selecting Beijing, then? These games could have been held anywhere. …

The only silver lining to this mess is that Xi Jinping didn’t get much of a propaganda victory out of it all.

Read the whole thing here.

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