The Business Weekly & Review sports correspondent Leatile Mmutle finds that the Olympics can be a treacherous event for athletes still wet behind the ears.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Some people take four years to get their badges at University level; some athletes wait four years to win the biggest medal in world sports. Just like in university one has to go through a lot of tests (be it injuries, qualification or competing) before reaching the final exam stage which is the Olympics. The final exam comes with its challenges. The Olympic Games are just beyond what you may think they are – winning medals and breaking records. With less than 10 days after the Rio Olympics started already there are many scandals haunting them.
The big stories include: A Kenya official who was recalled from the Games after being linked with strong allegations of concealing suggested doping within the Kenya camp; and the rape cases against Namibia and Morocco athletes respectively. These stories are a clear indication that the Olympics are not just “the Games”. Take an example of the Namibian athlete who has been detained due to such damning allegations. He took years preparing for this final exam and may not even sit for it. Being at the games in Rio and spending more time with the athletes and officials helped me realise that there are 3Ss that are key to survival at the Games. The first S is “social media discipline”. In the world of endorsements and organisers of such events fighting to sell and maintain a reputable brand value, comments by everyone associated with the Games are very critical. Usain Bolt survived what looked like a social media tragedy at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. His public relations team had to sprint faster than him to extinguish the fire. Social media commentary and\or posts can either make or break your career.
Organisers and sponsors will rather lose you than having their brand value downgraded by your social media controversy. The second S is ‘self-discipline.’ At the ongoing Olympics there has been a blow by blow account of words between the Chinese and the Australians over remarks that some swimmers passed to each other from those respective countries.
Such will obviously make headlines. If a reputable brand had interests in endorsing the athlete who has been involved in such, they are highly likely to rest their intentions. If an athlete has endorsements, some can quickly cut ties. We have seen for example Nike withdrawing their endorsement of the Phillipine boxer, Manny Pacquiao, over remarks he made about gay people. Self discipline cuts across many fronts of one’s conduct at the Games.
If you are not sure what constitutes discipline and indiscipline the best option is to remain humble at all times and focus on making your performance speak loud for you. Good performance coupled with humbleness comes with lucrative deals. It is just like a company listed in the stock exchange – good performance and maintaining reputable brand value will see more investors investing more into its stock. The third and last S is “sexual discipline”.
If you are already sexually active and going for weeks away from your partner can be a challenge. What can make it worse is that you will be exposed to well-toned and sexy bodies most of the time. Take an example of the Tonga athlete, Pita Nikolas Aufatofua, who walked into the historic Maracana Stadium at the opening ceremony exposing his muscular oily top half of his body. Some found him to be inviting. It does not end there; think about the recent statistics of condom distribution around the Olympic village. In 2008 Beijing Olympics China distributed 400 000 condoms, at London 2012, 150 000 were distributed and Rio 2016 a record 450 000 have been distributed.
Such statistics are a clear indication that there are some intimate Olympics going on off cameras. Sometimes those “Olympics” end up in the media space. A case in point is the rape cases stated above. There are a good number of reasons why one has to be sexually disciplined around the games. Coaches advise athletes against sexual activity – more especially before competing in events that demand a lot of energy. In Brazil the Zika virus scare is reason enough for one to abstain. It may not be easy but it is necessary to maintain a high level of Sexual discipline.