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Are Rio’s Troubles Just An Extreme Version Of What Usually Happens To Olympic Hosts?

Welcome to the latest episode of Hot Takedown, FiveThirtyEight’s sports podcast. This week’s show (Aug. 2, 2016) is all about previewing the 2016 Rio Olympics. We talk to Allison McCann, on location in Brazil, about Caster Semenya, the 800-meter runner challenging the gender divide in sports. Allison sticks around to give us a rundown of some of the Olympic events she’s keeping an eye on — including basketball, the men’s 100-meter and women’s soccer — as well as some of the lesser-known sports that are doing interesting things with data. Finally, Dave Zirin of The Nation joins us to talk about the politics of the Olympics and why he thinks they’re scams that lead to debt, displacement and despair. Plus, a significant digit on the medals stripped from athletes because of doping.

Links to what we discuss are here:

  • Donald McRae in The Guardian explains why Caster Semenya’s appearance at the Rio Olympics could reignite debates about sex and gender in women’s sports.
  • Our own Kate Fagan will have a piece about Semenya on ESPNW soon.
  • Wayne Epps Jr. in The New York Times writes about how the U.S. women’s basketball team continues to dominate.
  • Dave Zirin writes in The Nation that the disastrous run-up to the games in Rio is just an extreme version of what usually happens when the International Olympic Committee comes to town.
  • Zirin also says many in Brazil wish the Olympics would go away.
  • Zirin talks about the Olympics, Rio and the intersection between sports and politics in this interview on the website Literary Hub.
  • Bonnie D. Ford breaks down the way doping cases affect the awarding of medals.
  • Significant Digit: 57. That’s the number of Olympic medals that have been stripped because of doping in the summer and winter games since 2000.

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Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Kate Fagan is a writer for espnW and a regular panelist on the FiveThirtyEight sports podcast Hot Takedown.

Joe Sykes produces our weekly sports podcast Hot Takedown.