What do the IOC and Melania Trump have in common?

The short answer: they are both mangling their message.

Let's look at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) first:

Following a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that concluded that Russia has indulged in active state-sponsored athlete doping on a grand scale and across numerous sports, what sort of signal does the IOC decide to send?

A ban on all Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics? A partial ban?

No. 'Let's bring in the lawyers' is what they said.

That looks weak on a number of levels. Worse, it sullies the Olympic ideal: instead of 'faster, stronger, higher' we're being shown 'smaller, weaker, lower', because worst of all, it looks scared – scared of putting a foot wrong and being sued, scared of Russia, scared of consequences… and it also allows a negative debate to rumble on at a time when leadership is needed.

Surely the IOC is supposed to be an icon of global independence? Surely they should make a decision and then go to court later if necessary? If politics and sport are not supposed to mix, why are they stirring both ingredients into the same pot? And surely the run-up to an Olympic Games is an opportunity for the IOC to clarify its singular message of hope to the world?

At least the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) had the mettle to ban Russia's track and field athletes – a ban that was upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IOC's stated goal - and message - is to "build a better world through sport". I'd suggest that the IOC message right now is 'building a better world for lawyers through sport'.

So this year might we have a new Olympic event: legal manoeuvring? As the commentators might say at the opening ceremony, "In come the lawyers, resplendent in their uniforms and briefcases, and those with the fastest elbows, strongest shoulders and highest budgets will take home the gold…"

And then there's Melania and the apparent plagiarism of Michelle Obama's words.

Traditionally a time when the wives of candidates create a human face to their husband's ambition, Melania's conference speech was particularly eagerly awaited because a) a human face is needed more than ever in this campaign, and b) because she has been more of a background character in this campaign than many aspirational First Ladies over recent history.

So, what have we all been focusing on since her speech? Accusations of plagiarism.

And the story has rumbled on, with denials and defensive responses from the campaign team, then aides being sacked, and god knows what next.

All the while, we've forgotten whatever Melania might have said – her message has been lost.

She also had some interesting things to say in her speech…"Our country is underperforming and needs new leadership. Leadership is also what the world needs… Everyone wants change. Donald is the only one that can deliver it. We should not be satisfied with stagnation…. As citizens of this great nation, it is kindness, love and compassion for each other that will bring us together – and keep us together."…but you'd never know it because the message got lost.

Sad. Two great opportunities missed.

(Image: this is a composite image (Melania image credit: GQ Magazine – see article here))


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