The Winter Olympics: A Dying Proposition?

The current 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada presents a confluence of sport, civilization, and pageantry -- all of which, upon reflection, are uniquely Western. With the notable exceptions of a few winter sports-loving Asian nations like Japan, South Korea, and China -- nations that have to varying degrees opened to Western technology -- the Winter Olympics have historically been a showcase for the northern nations of Europe, North America, and the former Soviet Union.  

Whereas the Summer Olympics dwarfs the sister Winter games in terms of worldwide participation and popular interest, the Winter Olympics features sports that necessitate freezing-temperature playing fields and national training programs -- the Jamaican bobsled team notwithstanding -- that would be hard to implement or sustain in most of the populated world, where athletic development and training consists of kicking first a can, and later a soccer ball. 

Winter sports such as figure skating, luge, downhill skiing, or speed skating also face an inherent "brain drain" as the events have become "niche" sports that require dedicated parents, money, proximity to snow-capped mountains, and a close-to-year-round Arctic climate in order for a young hopeful to one day compete on the Olympic stage. Liberal notions of equalized outcomes, equality at all costs, and an imposed level playing field take a beating here, as no amount of social engineering is likely to increase the odds of a tropical climate nation becoming a fixture on the Winter Olympic medal stand. Most of the world is probably OK with that fact.

Not to be outdone, a global warmist might also be tempted to add that the Winter Olympics faces a terminal prognosis due to snow melt and climate change. He would be only half-right: the Winter Olympics in the not-so-distant future may face a death sentence, but the reason has nothing to do with a lack of snow, or even waning public interest or corporate sponsor money. The actual diagnosis is as simple as it is pernicious: 

The Winter Olympics nations are dying.

Consider the top eight Winter Olympic medal-winning nations since 1924: Norway, Russia, the USA, Austria, Germany, Finland, Canada, and Sweden. These nations have spawned the lion's share of great figure skaters, hockey players, alpine skiers, and downhill legends, while serving as host nations on numerous occasions. These same countries also share another dubious honor. If there were a medal count for "lowest birth rates in the world," the Winter Olympics bloc nations would just as certainly sweep the gold, silver, and bronze. 

Norway, the most decorated medal country in history, crosses the pole at number 181 among the roughly 228 total nations of the world with a scant 11.12 births per 1,000 people.  Russia follows closely behind at number 182 and 11.03 births/1,000. Traditional medal powerhouses Austria and Germany literally bring up the rear standings at numbers 223 and 226 respectively, with an astounding 8 births/1,000. Such numbers prompted one German official to provide the ominous forecast that his country will soon be "turning the light out if its birth rate did not pick up."

Even Japan -- barely outside the top eight medal-winning nations, but a traditional figure skating titan that gave the world the incomparable Midori Ito, the first woman to land a triple axel -- has the 227th ranked birthrate per 1,000 at 7.87.  The USA finishes a somewhat more respectable 153rd with 14.3/1,000, but will anyone eventually care to watch a Winter Olympics in 2050 that features only China and the USA?

Technology, military strength, social cohesion, religious values, and economic clout all play central roles in sustaining a civilization into the future. But no single factor outweighs the vital necessity of avoiding a trajectory of negative population growth. A 2005 study by the RAND Corporation outlined the population dilemma confronting Europe:

These demographic trends portend difficult times ahead for European economies. For example, a shrinking workforce can reduce productivity. At the same time, the growing proportion of elderly individuals threatens the solvency of pension and social insurance systems. As household sizes decrease, the ability to care for the elderly diminishes. Meanwhile, elderly people face growing health care needs and costs. Taken together, these developments could pose significant barriers to achieving the European Union (EU) goals of full employment, economic growth, and social cohesion.

Europe cannot make up the population deficit by promoting immigration and hope to maintain any vestiges of its cultural identity. On this point, the golden calf of multiculturalism collides with the realities of Islamic incursion and potential extremism as this recent U.K. Telegraph article attests:

Europe's Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015. In Brussels, the top seven baby boys' names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.

Europe's low white birth rate, coupled with faster multiplying migrants, will change fundamentally what we take to mean by European culture and society. The altered population mix has far-reaching implications for education, housing, welfare, labor, the arts, and everything in between. Yet EU officials admit that these issues are not receiving the attention they deserve.

The mortal wounds of many of the nations represented in Vancouver are largely self-inflicted. By increasingly embracing the suicide pact and lethal cocktail of abortion on demand, the assault on the traditional family, the sexual revolution, the devaluing of life, and a departure from traditional religion, to name but a few factors, the Winter Olympics nations competing on the slopes, rinks, and tracks of Vancouver this week have much more at stake than securing medal counts at these or future Olympic Games. The game is called "survival," and the goal is in doubt.

Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."
 - The Gods Of The Copybook Headings by Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Finlay is an avid sports fan with a background in human services and education.