The Lords of the Rings
For the first time in its 22-year history, REAL SPORTS presents a single-topic, extended investigation, taking a comprehensive look at the powerful and largely unchecked International Olympic Committee.
Commonly referred to as the IOC, the roughly hundred-member governing body of the modern Olympic movement claims devotion to peace and unity for humanity through sport. But months of interviews and research conducted around the world, spanning nine countries, reveal that some believe the IOC has strayed far from its progressive mission by transforming into an elitist organization whose massive power base and demands appear to be exacting a toll on the host cities, their citizens and the athletes they purport to serve.
Host Bryant Gumbel leads the REAL SPORTS investigation from Europe, the home of the International Olympic Committee, introducing the elite fraternity that is today's IOC. Gumbel reports on the long history of allegations of ethical and legal violations over its century-long run and examines how a thirst for wealth, power, influence and status may have fueled that agenda.
Correspondent Jon Frankel reports from Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where the IOC promised, as it does every two years, that the Games would help make the host city a better place. But REAL SPORTS found a city struggling with a variety of issues: toxic, garbage-strewn water at venues where 40 events will be held; a failing public health system; the Zika crisis, which has caused brain damage in more than a thousand babies; and deep resentment from communities that were destroyed to make way for the Summer Games.
Correspondent Bernard Goldberg travels to Sochi, Russia, site of the 2014 Winter Games, where President Vladimir Putin spent billions of dollars meeting the demands of the IOC and transformed the subtropical beach resort into a winter sports paradise, a feat unattainable for most nations. Critics contend that those Games came at the expense of human rights and that President Putin leveraged post-Games nationalistic pride to allegedly prepare for war.
Correspondent David Scott visits Beijing, China to investigate the true human cost of the 2008 Summer Games and explore the charges by some that the IOC was in partnership with China's Communist Party. REAL SPORTS uncovers a world of forced evictions, secret prisons and government censorship, revealed in gripping first-hand accounts of banned human rights activists. Now, the local organizing officials have been rewarded, as Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 and will once again be on the world's stage.