| || Are sports a concern of only the privileged few? Regrettably, one might think so, for playing sports improves quality of life, while its educational benefits are universally recognized. Nevertheless, involvement in athletics is largely dependent on a good standard of living, and poor people whose basic needs are not met are largely excluded from it. The great sporting nations, after all, are the richest countries. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, 687 medals were awarded: 597 (87 percent) to 26 industrialized countries and 90 (13 percent) to 21 developing countries. It is precisely the same gulf that separates north from south in the world economy. Nevertheless, competitive spectator sports are a passion shared by the entire planet. The great tournaments that attract vast crowds are also a mirror of countries’ social and political situations; these contests increasingly reflect the hostilities between nations. The political stakes are increased by the addition of economic stakes, with money an ever present fixture of the games. Plagued by these problems, as well as by drugs and corruption, world athletics need to face up to these issues if they are to remain of benefit to the population as a whole.
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