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Affirmative action at the Olympics

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 22, 2004 07:29 AM

Here’s an interesting letter from a former Olympic oarsmen, who reports that the international governing body of rowing is trying to diversify the sport by lowering competitive standards for ethnic minorities:

I retired from competition after the 1988 Olympics. But I was vaguely aware that they’ve tightened things up quite a bit since I quit racing, and that nowadays, just because you make your national team, it’s no longer a guarantee that you’ll be competing in the Olympics. Even back in the eighties, the International Olympic Committee [IOC] was rattling its sabre, making FISA , [Federation Internationale des Societes d’Aviron, the international governing body of rowing]. Understand that it wasn’t happy, given that rowing garnered the second highest medal count at the Olympics, right behind track and field.

I sort of counted my blessings, realizing that in today’s game, my boat, the American quadruple sculls, likely would not have been given the nod to compete in the Games.

But it wasn’t until just a few days ago, when I came across an article in Rowing News, that I began to see red. The behind-the-scenes deal making goes like this: FISA, in an effort to assuage the IOC, is on a PR mission to make rowing, a very European (ahem: white) sport, appear more widely embraced on the world stage than it is. Hence the Asian, African, and Latin American “Continental Qualifying Regattas,” wherein sixteen out of the allotted thirty slots for the men’s single scull are awarded to second–or, more often than not–third-rate scullers. [Underdeveloped: Globalizing the Games, September, 2004, “The Growth is impressive, even if the rowing isn’t”]

How did we ever come to this? Should we thank the Jamaican bobsledders, a ski jumper named Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards, or, more recently, Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea, who, four years ago, competed (I’m being generous here) in the hundred-meter freestyle?…

Read the rest of the story here. No wonder no one takes the Games seriously anymore.

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