The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The Olympics can — and do — make the world a better place

Olympic athletes pose for photographs on Olympic rings at Yanqing Olympic Village on Feb. 2.
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I have been immersed in sports since the 1950s, was a double Olympic finalist in swimming and am now the senior active member of the International Olympic Committee. I have been the president of my national Olympic committee, was responsible for Olympic television negotiations and marketing, and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Though no organization is perfect, the Olympic Games have a positive effect as a result of the activities of the IOC. The Games are now gender-equal, which has resulted in more countries investing in women’s sports. The IOC has been fortunate to generate significant revenue from television and sponsorships, of which some 90 percent is redistributed to athletes, their international sports federations, their national Olympic committees and Olympic organizing committees.

The IOC is athlete-centered, with elected athletes having the same representation as international federations and national Olympic committees; 38 of its 101 members, including the IOC president, are former Olympians. Today’s athletes are just as excited about Olympic participation as those of my era; just look at their social media accounts. The Olympics can — and do — make the world a better place.

Readers deserve a balanced treatment of this worldwide phenomenon, not predominantly the negative aspects.

Richard W. Pound, Montreal