The Australian Olympic Committee has lodged an official application with the International Olympic Committee to have medals awarded to athletes who finish eighth at the next Olympic Games in order to create a more inclusive environment for young Australians accustomed to receiving eighth place medals.
Australia is lobbying the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to expand the medal allocation from the traditional gold, silver and bronze to reflect the reality of junior sport in Australia.
“In junior sporting competitions, school sports carnivals and many more competitive contexts, Australian children are given prizes, ribbons and medals for finishing well out of the top 3, or sometimes for just turning up,” outlined a spokesperson for the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC).
“It is Australia’s strong desire to see this custom adopted by the IOC.”
The AOC argues that the generation of young Australians raised on eighth place medals are now old enough to enter the Olympic arena and must be accommodated via a change in the rules.
“These young Australians are likely to feel threatened and uncomfortable in an environment in which winning and personal excellence are celebrated.”
The proposed changes would award a medal to every athlete from 1st – 8th, so finalists in most sports will win a medal. Every medal would be coloured grey, and athletes who finish outside the top eight all receive a beige participation medal.
The AOC is pushing hard for the new system to be in place for the Tokyo games, scheduled to take place in 2021.
“While every member of the Olympic family was saddened to see Tokyo2020 postponed, it did at least give us another 12 months to lobby the IOC for the introduction of the eighth place medal,” explained the spokesperson.
“Even if the changes can’t be introduced immediately into the Olympic Games, we will lobby for them to be trialled at the Youth Olympic Games, in which many young Australians participate.”
Supporters of the eighth place medal mentality argue that it removes the element of competition from children’s physical activity, and creates a safer, more inclusive environment and subsequently increases participation levels.
Opponents of the custom argue that it prevents children from learning how to deal with losing and from developing emotional resilience. They claim it suppresses children’s natural competitive urges and athletic talent, and fails to acknowledge that superior talent, dedication, effort and strategy lead to victory in sport. It also ignores the fact that healthy competition among children can be harnessed for good.
Other critics go so far as to claim that the eighth place medal movement coincided with the dramatic rise in childhood obesity in the nation.
The AOC spokesperson then outlined other changes Australia would like to see introduced into future Olympic competitions, many of which are borrowed from the school system in which today’s young Olympians were educated.
Recent years saw the introduction of ‘Special Consideration’ for students who are sitting their final year exams, which determine tertiary education entrance rankings. The system has proved enormously popular among Australian students and their parents.
Adopting these principles in the Olympic arena would see endurance athletes in sports such as Athletics, Cycling, Mountain Biking, Triathlon and Swimming allowed to take rest breaks when they feel tired – without this break time being added to their overall finishing time. Cyclists could ride an E-Bike if they choose, while Rugby 7s teams could field as many players as they want, in recognition Australia’s appalling rates of numeracy.
Sprinters would be able to run 95 metres instead of the mandated 100 metres, while team sports would be played without the score being recorded. High, long and triple jumpers could place a mini tramp at the end of the runway, while rock climbers would be hauled up the rock face by their belay buddy.
The spokesperson was then asked if these conditions would apply to athletes from other countries.
“No way,” he replied emphatically.
“Don’t forget, we’re drawing on a talent pool which was not allowed to run, jump, throw, wrestle, climb or kick a ball in their school playground. Children who were not allowed to set foot on local sports grounds when it rained. A generation of young people whose schools have designated ‘passive’ ovals on which no vigorous activity is allowed – for fear someone will scrape their knee. How can we possibly compete against athletes who grow up running 10km to school in bare feet every day?
“Plus, how else are we going to climb up the medal tally and finally justify the enormous amount of taxpayer money that is poured into elite sport every year?”
Radical elements within the AOC would like to see the changes go even further.
They want to ban sports such as Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Karate and Taekwondo as they are examples of rough play. They would like to remove traditional Olympic disciplines such as Javelin, Discus and Shot Putt, as well as Archery, Fencing and Shooting, as they promote violence.
Furthermore, all Basketball and Volleyball players would have to be the same height. 10m platform diving would be banned, while the 1m springboard is permitted as long as the diver enters with a safety dive – and NO BOMBS!
Participants in all water-based activities would have to wear life jackets, and as for surfing, this is considered far too dangerous due to the presence of sharks, bluebottles, urchins, stingrays, rips and big waves.
The IOC is yet to respond to the application, but Australia remains confident that it can create an inclusive Olympic Games without any competition.
Image: Charles Deluvio