Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pin Trading with Putin

At the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to the United States Olympic Committee's hospitality facility, USA House, where he was seen sporting a Team USA pin (see enlargement).  Perhaps one of our intrepid students will be able to get him to swap for a Golden Bears-Go USA pin in Rio! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Parallel Blog

To get a student's perspective of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, check out Rickie Rizos' blog at

Sunday, June 26, 2016

WADA Pulls Lab Accreditation

Just when you thought it could not get any worse for the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee with all of its challenges on the eve of Rio's coming-out party this summer, the World Anti-Doping Agency suspended Brazil's Olympic Doping Control Lab that was slated to analyze athletes' urine samples for banned substances during the Games for "nonconformity" with international standards.  This, in the aftermath of the unprecedented ban on Russia's track & field athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games.  It remains to be seen whether the Rio lab will regain its accreditation in time for the Games or if samples will be sent to a lab outside of Brazil.  Aiyayai. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Russians Aren't Coming

IAAF President Seb Coe announced an unprecedented move this past week to ban Russian track & field athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics this summer as a result of systematic doping that has tainted the entire team.  The IAAF's decision, which was upheld by the IOC, has geopolitical ramifications with the intervention of Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the wholesale punishment unfair to "innocent" athletes who compete without doping.  This decision undoubtedly will affect the medal table, since Russian track & field athletes accounted for 20% -- 16 medals, including 7 gold -- of its country's medal haul at the 2012 London Olympics.     

Happy Olympic Day

June 23 is the date that the modern Olympic Movement was founded with the establishment of the International Olympic Committee at The Sorbonne in 1894 at the call of French nobleman Baron Pierre de Coubertin.  As such, June 23 is regarded as Olympic Day, with celebrations worldwide through various sport, cultural, and educational events promoted by National Olympic Committees in their respective countries around this date.  The idea is to get up, get active, and get involved in exercise, sport, and fitness, all the while learning more about Olympic culture and history.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dr. Dan

Dr. Dan Covell, aka "DC," will serve as faculty chaperone for Seminar Abroad V, which will be his fifth such trip to the Olympics and/or World Cup.  As can be seen in the above briefing at the Bogota Airport for students on our last trip, Dr. Dan takes seriously his responsibility for helping to ensure the delegation's safety and wellbeing, while maintaining a sense of humor throughout.   

Friday, June 17, 2016

Got Repellent?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared Zika a public health emergency, while at the same time saying that the risk of contracting the virus by virtue of attending the Rio Olympic Games would not be significantly increased given the timing of the Games during Brazil's winter when the concentration of mosquitoes is low, as well as expected precautions taken by Games organizers and visitors themselves.

Previously, the WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that Zika causes microcephaly, a medical condition manifested by abnormally small heads and brain damage in infants.  While some public health officials decry the WHO’s position against calling for the Games’ cancellation or postponement, both the WHO and CDC warns that pregnant women should not attend the Rio Olympics.

The CDC recommends wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants in places where mosquitoes might be present, using repellent on exposed skin, and staying in air-conditioned accommodations (which fortunately, our delegation will have).

Shown above are the brands/products listed by Consumer Reports as the most effective in warding off the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tickets, Anyone?

In addition to learning about the business of the Olympic Games – from securing hosting rights to generating billions of dollars in broadcast and sponsorship revenue, and from building the infrastructure to support 10,500 athletes and 500,000 foreign visitors to orchestrating the logistics of a mega-multisport extravaganza over 17 days, the students – who on certain days will be split into two groups – will have the opportunity to take in seven Olympic events, including rowing, field hockey, boxing, tennis, volleyball, rugby, fencing, table tennis, beach volleyball, and athletics (track & field). 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Games Must Go On

Much has been written and reported in recent months by the media about Rio’s challenges and its preparedness to host this summer’s Olympic Games.  Economic meltdown producing Brazil’s worst recession since the 1930s.  Check.  Government rife with political corruption, resulting in President Dilma Rousseff’s suspension and impeachment.  Check.  Contaminated waters that will rival Beijing’s air quality for the title of most-polluted Olympics.  Check.  Zika.  Check.  Unfinished venues and Metro Line 4.  Check and check.  But truth be told, every Olympics is plagued by some level of controversy, naysayers, and predictions of doom.  And yet, once the torch is lit at Opening Ceremonies, every Olympics manages to pull through to the end, a scant 17 days later.  In the immortal words of then IOC President Avery Brundage following the terrorist attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Olympics, “The Games must go on.”  So, too, will the Rio Olympics, despite all its hardships and heartaches.  Our students will be in a unique position to observe, first hand, how a city and its organizing committee manages these problems and whether it will emerge on the other side with its image enhanced and reputation intact . . . or not.