SPORT

Does Winter Olympics still make sense?

The absence of snow and ice over much of the globe is seemingly the limit to the popularity of the Winter Olympics. (Reuters)

The Olympic Winter Games, especially those taking place currently in Pyeongchang, are struggling to match their summer cousins in the collective imagination, except for people living less than 30 minutes from the ski slopes.

This is the case worldwide, where the event goes unnoticed in Africa, Latin America, South Asia - these three huge areas totaling zero medals in the history of the Winter Olympics.

The absence of snow and ice over much of the globe is seemingly the limit to the popularity of the Winter Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can only do more than it has already tried: to integrate acrobatic sports in which nations without culture of winter sports, such as Australia, China or Belarus, stand out, according to the French newspaper Lemonde.

In 2014, in Sochi (Russia), according to Slate site calculations, the 12 most represented countries accounted for 63% of the participants, while they represented only 12% of the world population.

To make the universality of its winter Olympics a reality, the IOC refers to the 220 broadcasters.

In the countries where Olympics and winter sports disciplines are strong, the Olympics keep a real dynamic and audiences in China have become substantial. The American NBC will beat a new record of advertising revenue during Pyeongchang: with $ 900 million of commercials sold on all screens, and the channel has improved by about 10% its Sochi score.

The winter edition, however, has the disadvantage of being put in competition with a highly crowd-pilling sports news: in the United States, the Super Bowl, the most publicized event of the year, always precedes the opening ceremony of a few days, and in Europe, the Champions League occupies the middle of the two Olympic weeks with its round of 16.

Finally, the Winter Games are sadly lacking headliners that radiate beyond the circle of sports fans, a gap reinforced this year by the absence of the stars of the NHL, the North American hockey league.

The sporting aspect has also been relegated to the background by the negotiations on the participation of North Korea and the organized doping drama in Russia, which recalls that cheating is as much about skiing and skating as athletics or cycling.

After the figure skating judges' vote exchange affair at the Salt Lake City Games (USA, 2002) and the discovery of doping products at the Austrian Alpine founders' and biathletes' cabins in Turin (Italy, 2006), are three editions of the Winter Olympics, of the last four, which have been affected by scandals.

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Last Update: Thursday, 8 February 2018 KSA 16:04 - GMT 13:04
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