Forget the tit-for-tat political boycotts of the 1980 and 1984 Summer Games. That was sabre-rattling as much as human rights protest.
The threat to gay and lesbian athletes and their supporters by the Russian government in advance of the Winter Games in Sochi represents the biggest crisis to the Olympic brand in its history.
The Nazis didn’t threaten to imprison Jesse Owens in 1936 for being black.
At the closing of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the somnabulistic IOC President Jacques Rogge called upon the youth of the world to assemble in Sochi and carry on the Olympic spirit.
Between then and now, he has apparently forgotten what the Olympic spirit is. It’s about inclusiveness and fair play.
If only the Russian government had utilized its considerable well of intolerance to eliminate the use of performance enhancing drugs.
If only it had focused on making these the Clean Games, rather than the Straight Games – that would have advanced the movement and enhanced the Olympic brand.
But the real chump here is the IOC. It is tasked with guarding the Olympic spirit. Based on its decision to support the Russian position, the IOC is no longer up to the task.
What happens to a brand when the brand police don’t have the balls to police it?