7 Ways The Olympics Ended Up Being Trash
We here at Cracked—the world's first and only humor site—pride ourselves on exemplary journalism. Real stuff. Hard-hitting stuff. Edward R. Murrow stuff. And sometimes, journalism means admitting when you're wrong, correcting mistakes, and updating facts. But other times, journalism means taking a huge victory lap and yelling "CALLED IT" while laughing at the tears of your enemies.
At the start of the Olympics, we wrote about how the 2020 In 2021 Because Time Is A Meaningless Construct Olympics had, to quote lesser news organization The Washington Post, "a glum mood and bad vibes." stemming from hypocrisy, unfairness, and general bullshit. Then the Olympics had to go and one-up us, providing even more stories doused in hypocrisy, unfairness, and general bullshit ...
100 U.S. Athletes Were Unvaccinated Upon Arrival
Let's get the biggest, most obvious issue out of the way first: COVID-19 is still very much a thing, and therefore, the Olympics shouldn't have happened. Even if you believe Dr. Fauci personally oversaw the creation of the virus in a Chinese lab while high on Hillary Clinton's supply of blood harvested from child sex trafficking victims, you have to acknowledge that a virus is out there killing people, and the Olympics should probably take some better safeguards.
With the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency spending so much time regulating what's in people's bodies, you'd think there'd be some sort of COVID vaccine requirement. I mean, you're air-dropping people from all over the world into a crowded environment in a country with roughly 32% of its population vaccinated – that's a goddamn Thanksgiving feast for a virus. You'd think they'd want to keep the athletes safe, right?
Wrong! At least 100 U.S. athletes landed in Tokyo unvaccinated, and 13 total athletes tested positive for COVID on the first day. As of August 3rd, five days before the Games ended, there were 294 new cases. Today.com kept a running tracker of all the new cases.
The virus, that resilient little rascal, is still mutating. Before the Olympics began, the Delta Variant was a scary mutation mostly limited to pockets of unvaccinated people. Not even two weeks later, it's a terrifying Air Force of viral load that's as contagious as chickenpox. That's the thing about viruses: they love being alive while making humans very much not alive. And with the uptick in COVID long-haulers (including young, healthy athletes) sharing their stories of misery and sometimes suicide, it's pretty open-and-shut that the Olympics were a bad idea. ESPECIALLY if the United States, a country chock-full of anti-vax conspiracy nuts, was allowed to send 100 unvaccinated athletes to the Games.
Megan Rapinoe Pushes CBD (After Sha'Carri Richardson Got Banned For Smoking Weed)
In one of the most all-time incredible displays of "not reading the room," U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe used her immense platform at the Olympics to tout the benefits of CBD and hawk her own line of products. "What's so bad about CBD?" you ask, hoping the acronym stands for Collies, Boxers, and Dalmatians and is an especially adorable dog-based Instagram account. No, CBD is a natural compound derived from cannabis. And nothing's really bad about it, either. The issue is that cannabis same plant U.S. sprinter Sha'Carri Richardson had to sit out the Olympics for smoking.
Sure, CBD is slightly different from the cannabis that gets you good and high in that it doesn't include THC. Eat a CBD gummy, you might feel your anxiety melt away, and your muscles loosen up. Eat a THC gummy, you might still feel those things, but also a strong desire to eat a whole pizza while listening to vaporwave and zoning out to David Attenborough nature documentaries. Somewhere along the way, the WADA decided these differences mean CBD = good and regular ol' herb = bad. Richardson gets suspended, Rapinoe gets her business promoted.
Legality and rules-abiding-ness aside, Rapinoe advertising her own product line after such a high-profile, unjust banning is in pretty poor taste. The backlash was quick and deserved. There's no performance-enhancing difference between CBD and THC. This could have been a moment where one of the greatest soccer players in U.S. history teamed up with the fourth-fastest sprinter in world history and had a moment to stand for justice, but instead ... crickets from Rapinoe. Look, I get that she's probably busy, y'know, with scoring goals and winning a medal at the Olympics or whatever, but total radio silence? Not one single "I stand with Sha'Carri Richardson" tweet? It reeks of apathy. It's almost like white America has a long history of profiting off of things Black America gets punished for.
Simone Biles Took A Break For Her Mental Health (And Got A Bunch Of Shit For It)
After becoming the first gymnast to land or even attempt the Yurchenko double pike on vault, Simone Biles seemed poised to win so much gold that third Austin Powers movie would've had to retcon its name as Silvermember. Instead, she got hit with a terrifying invisible injury: a case of "the twisties." That's when a gymnast loses track of what they're doing mid-air. Every sport comes with mental blocks – basketball players suddenly start bricking shots, baseball players miss a routine fly ball, football quarterbacks forget where they are and throw at mascots.
Those mental slip-ups are frustrating but not life-threatening. Not so for gymnasts. You have a mental break during a routine, and your options are basically: A) horrific, career-threatening injury, or B) death.
Biles rightfully left the competition, only to face a whole bunch of online morons calling her soft. No one would've been doing that if she'd straight-up broken a leg, but Biles's issues were mental, so it's free game to speculate on her toughness, apparently (note: it is not). Some jerks even started comparing her to Kerri Strug's famous broken ankle vault in 1996. What people tend to forget about Strug's vault is 1) it was totally unnecessary for Team USA to win gold and 2) Strug never competed again.
Biles, fortunately, avoided that fate, later returning to win a bronze medal on the balance beam. Oh, and adding to this toxic cocktail of psychological shittery, Biles then revealed that her aunt died unexpectedly during the Games. So maybe admitting when you have a mental block, taking steps to work through it, doing all this while processing unexpected grief, and then still medaling—maybe that makes Simone Biles tougher than diaper-wearing crybabies.
There's no question that gymnastics is rad; it's one of the main events people go nuts for every four years. Still, there's a weird Jon-Voight-in-Varsity-Blues vibe bubbling up in gymnastics stories. Gymnasts are forced to start getting serious about the sport before they're old enough to go to kindergarten if they want a shot at Olympic gold, and then they're encouraged to play through pain while their bones are still growing. Not to mention U.S. gymnastics is still reeling from the fact that their former team doctor molested so many young girls that even the Catholic Church would throw up its hands and say, "whoa, that's bad." Gymnastics culture is, uh, imperfect, is what I'm saying. Geez, I hope we don't have to talk about sexual assault in the next entry.
A U.S. Fencer Had A Bunch Of Sexual Assault Allegations And Could Still Compete
If you were writing a screenplay about an entitled douchebag who competes in fencing, you'd probably name that character something like "Alen Hadzic." Then you'd be forced to change the name because there actually is an entitled douchebag fencer named Alen Hadzic, and he has multiple sexual assault allegations against him.
Hadzic seems to apparently be one of those "super fun" guys at parties who likes to find the drunkest woman around ("Bonus if she's a freshman, dude!") and get her to do whatever he wants. If that sounds like I'm making a joke, well, I am really sorry to say I'm paraphrasing a BuzzFeed News article with dozens of sources. One of those sources is even a current Olympian. She says she experienced Hadzic's creepiness firsthand when she was a first-year student and he was a third year. She'd drunk enough to get sick to her stomach and wanted to lie down, and then Hedzic allegedly followed her into the room and tried to take advantage of her until someone else came in and she made her escape. Now they're teammates. Cool.
"Come on, it's a college party," your creepy uncle says through bourbon breath. "So what if there's some drinking and bad sex decisions?" That's actually brought up by another athlete in the article, who claims that while "it was common for guys ... to be flirtatious or suddenly grab them," Hadzic was far more aggressive and unyielding than your standard Ivy League aggro-bro. Reportedly, a typical night of partying might find Hadzic bragging about having sex with a woman who'd be seen crying after, or drunkenly kicking unhoused people on a walk home from the bar and then laughing about it. For what it's worth, he got suspended from Columbia for a year and expelled from fencing.
Most of the U.S. fencing team is "pissed off" that he was allowed to go to Tokyo. His ex-girlfriend (and former fencer), Katya English, said that any woman at the Games should "demand security if he [is] going to be on the premises." Sounds like banning him outright would be way easier and more sensible, but since when have the Olympics ever been about doing the sensible thing? Hadzic was temporarily suspended, then allowed to travel to Tokyo on the condition that he take a different flight from his teammates and be separated from other athletes during the Games. Sure, that'll show him.
Belarus Got Super Fascist About A Sprinter Who Criticized Her Coaches
After team officials told her she'd be competing in the 4x400 meter relay, Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was upset. Why? Well, she'd been training for the 200 meters and had never done the 4x400 before. A world stage like the Olympics is not where you want to make your debut in something. Timanovskaya made her objections public with an angry Instagram post, and team officials responded by reasonably talking it out with her behind closed doors. Haha, just kidding, they tried to force her onto a plane back to Belarus.
"Going home after a bad time at the Olympics" is never fun, but it's especially not fun when the home is a crushingly authoritarian dictatorship that doesn't exactly handle criticism well. Timanovskaya feared she might face jail time or being involuntarily committed to a psychological hospital, and that's if she's lucky. Like, found-a-four-leaf-clover and won-a-slot-machine lucky.
See, President Alexander Lukashenko is not ... um ... let's say he's not the chillest dude. He's been in power since 1994, and seemed to maintain that power via brutal torture, rigged elections, and forced disappearances of dissidents. His government has faced an extra helping of mass protests since a disputed 2020 election, with thousands being arrested, tortured, and killed. He's been called "Europe's last dictator," sometimes by an openly gay German Foreign Minister, and responded to these accusations with quips like "better to be a dictator than gay." Personally, I'd rather have a friend tell me they were born with a natural attraction to people of the same sex than tell me they were the primary cause of massive human rights violations for an entire nation, but maybe I'm weird.
How scary is Lukashenko's regime? Well, besides all the stuff I already said, they've been credibly accused of highjacking a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania in order to arrest a dissident journalist. Just last week, activist Vitaly Shishov, who ran an NGO that helped Belarusian dissidents flee persecution, was found hanging dead in a park in Kyiv. Officials are investigating whether or not it was a suicide or "premeditative murder meant to look like a suicide," which, like, come on. The fact that they're even entertaining that possibility tells you all you need to know.
So yeah, Timanovskaya was a touch queasy about flying home. As of this writing, she's in Austria, where her training center is, and her husband has received asylum in Poland. Things might change before this is published; who knows? Anyway, the 2021 Olympics can add "potential human rights crisis" to its historical resume, so ... cool. Things are going great, aren't they?
A Tokyo Man Has Now Been Displaced By The Olympics Twice
If the Olympics are famous for anything other than propping up the Wheaties brand, it's displacing people from their homes. It's frankly amazing they don't hand out medals to city councils and architecture firms for Highest Number of Evictions. And just in case it needs to be said: getting forced out of your home sucks. You have to pack up all your furniture and belongings, move away from where you've established a community, and have your general sense of stability shattered.
Fun story: two weeks after my son was born, my wife and I got flooded out of our house due to a Biblical amount of rain and a defect in our building's sewage system. There was a bunch of sewage all over our floors, we lost a bunch of stuff, and we learned exactly how urgent GTFO can be. Then, we got to adjust to being new parents while spending two-plus months in a hotel and agonizing over whether or not our house was going to be okay. I guess it's not all that fun a story. But we got to return to our house; we were lucky. People getting their homes bulldozed so that a new goddamn soccer stadium or whatever can be built don't get that luxury. At least that's a once-in-a-lifetime event, right?
Wrong, person who skipped the entry title and just started reading the paragraph for some reason. Kohei and Yasuko Jinno, a Tokyo couple who was evicted once for Tokyo's 1964 Olympics, got to experience that special feeling of powerlessness once again in 2013. And for Kohei, that wasn't even the second time he lost a house as his childhood home burned in World War II. The eviction shattered the octogenarian couple's close-knit public housing community, with roughly 200 mostly elderly families kicked to the curb. If you feel like that's a far too Kafkaesque and callous fate for an elderly couple to suffer in the name of grown people playing children's games, well, congrats: you have too much of a soul to work for the IOC.
Surely the Jinnos got some sort of compensation, right? Yes, The city paid them 170,000 yen ($1,500) to move. Generous work, city! Oh wait, it typically costs 1 million yen ($9,000) to move.
Great. Another entry where I've made myself too sad to make jokes. Not even the image of Ryan Lochte swimming in his own pee will help me like it did in the other article. I just feel sad. But we can't end like this. We just can't, okay?
Okay, Fine, Let's End On A Happy Note: The First Transgender Athletes Were Allowed To Compete
Our previous article covered the bullshit case of Namibian sprinters Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi, who were banned from competition after a blood test revealed high testosterone levels that rendered them ineligible for women's competition. While Mboma and Masilingi are both cisgender, their ban opened a debate about what should be done with athletes that don't fit neatly in the gender binary. Who's allowed to compete in men's sports? Who's allowed to compete in women's sports? How do we determine that? It's a tricky question, one that reasonable people would answer with "differently than what we're doing now."
But the Olympics weren't a total disaster for trans rights: New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first transgender athlete to compete after the IOC basically said, "Look, we'll figure this all out later, okay?" Which is the first time I've ever found the IOC relatable. "Look, we'll figure this all out later, okay" is how I make most of my financial decisions, and I have an
EXCELLENT improving credit score.
Amid a bunch of outcry and people whining over poorly aged Bill Burr bits coming to life, Hubbard competed but did not medal. So much for the idea that transgender athletes have unfair advantages. Still, medal or not, it's rad that Hubbard got to compete. It's also rad that transgender Canadian soccer star Quinn, non-binary American skateboarder Alana Smith, and transgender BMXer Chelsea Wolfe got to compete. Society's understanding of gender might be evolving (even though gender fluidity's been around forever), and sports will need to figure out how to catch up. In the meantime, why deny these athletes their dreams?
That's the thing: it's a dream to go to the Olympics. It's a dream to compete against the best in the world, and the Olympics should be a shining symbol of human achievement. I know I come off like some curmudgeonly buzzkill in this article and its predecessor, but I promise, I actually do like fun. I want the Olympics to be the kind of magical event I experienced when I was eight years old in Atlanta in 1996. And I think that's possible. They just need to settle on one location, treat trans and nonbinary athletes with respect, stop displacing people from their homes, learn how to deal with pandemics, maybe pay the athletes, stop being racist even on accident, *hears music swelling* HEY DON'T PLAY ME OFF! I'VE GOT GRIEVANCES, HERE! THIS LIST GOES ON AND O—
Top Image: Fernando Frazão/Agência Bras