Is It Ethical to Enjoy the Rio Olympics?

Wrestling with the morality of a troubled edition of the Summer Games.

By Seth Sommerfeld July 20, 2016 Published in the August 2016 issue of Seattle Met

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Political corruption. Economic crisis. Polluted waters. Zika. Who’s ready for the 2016 Rio Olympics (August 5–21)?

I’m an Olympics junkie, the type of idiot who stays up until 3am watching live handball played on the other side of the globe. I want to cheer like a dumb fan, but the mess in Brazil makes it hard to enjoy the competition with a clear conscience. I’ve learned how to suppress guilt just enough to enjoy football, but this feels different. It feels wrong.

Then again, these athletes have trained all their lives for this, and they didn’t choose the locale. So not watching means not supporting Kirkland sailor Helena Scutt, new Storm star Breanna Stewart, and 13 Husky rowers. They represent not just the USA, but Seattle too. It may be an ethically dubious decathlon, but there’s hope in cheering for these competitors.  So I’ll tune in, but I won’t watch with blinders.

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