The Olympics brings out the heart in us all

The Olympics bring out the every-four-years sports fan in a lot of us

There’s plenty going on in the Cowichan Valley this summer, but a lot of residents have their eyes glued on Rio, Brazil this week and next.

The Olympics bring out the every-four-years sports fan in a lot of us, with folks hitherto oblivious to the state of women’s rugby sevens following with bated breath as Canada’s team goes for a medal. (The team took the bronze medal Monday in an exciting game against Great Britian.)

This year, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the games before they even opened on the weekend.

From the state of polluted water venues to athlete accommodations lacking basic finishes as teams arrived, to safety in a city and a country where people have been struggling with crime, poverty and the Zika virus in recent years, there was a lot of speculation that 2016’s summer games would be a disappointing affair.

So far, these complaints have been mere background as the athletes have taken centre stage (as they should), their exploits dominating the spotlight.

But still front and centre in a few instances has been the Russian doping scandal.

Russian athletes faced a possible blanket ban from Rio 2016 just weeks before the games opened, with a scathing report delivered to the International Olympic Committee detailing elaborate cheating in Sochi.

But the IOC, in what could be seen as a rather cowardly abdication of responsibility, left it up to the individual sport federations to determine if Russian athletes would be allowed to compete in Rio.

Thus far, notably, Yulia Efimova was booed by the crowd in her 100-metre breaststroke heat.

There was also booing as the Russian men’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay swimmers were announced.

Russians aren’t the only ones to ever be caught doping, of course. But the revelation that there was actual state sponsorship of cheating in Sochi is shocking.

So why continue to watch?

In the Citizen newsroom everyone has their Olympic year favourites, from beach volleyball to the sports we rarely see like handball and water polo. Diving, rowing and pole vault all have a place in our Olympic hearts.

That’s why we watch — when our Canadian athletes step up to compete in their disciplines, the culmination of a lifetime of work, we stand up there with them, proudly cheering for the maple leaf.

Their achievement overcomes any disappointment over scandal.