Dr. Judy Krutky works Rio media help desk

As the Rio Olympics take a final bow, members of the BW community are returning home from the games with rich experiences and knowledge to share.

Lessons from Rio: International affairs professor volunteers at the Olympics

August 22, 2016

Dr. Judy Krutky in her BW classroomAs the Rio Olympics take a final bow, members of the BW community are returning home from the games with rich experiences and knowledge to share. Judy Krutky, Ph.D., professor of political science and international affairs will leverage her “amazing” time as a volunteer in media operations, to benefit her students back at BW. 

Dr. Judy Krutky works Rio media help deskDr. Krutky was assigned to the Fort Copacabana venue where she worked with reporters and photographers covering the water sports on the beach such as beach volleyball, men and women's marathon, and cycling. When she wasn’t on duty, Krutky soaked up every aspect of the global event.

The games, security, promotion of peace and prosperity

Krutky, who has taught a class on politics and the Olympics, and is a driving force in the national security track at BW, developed new insights on security as well as the politics of the games and has many takeaways to bring to the classroom, including greater understanding of Brazil and its culture.

For starters, do the Olympics contribute to global peace? “Maybe on an individual level,” she offers. “but the country and media focus is on winning medals seems to promote rampant nationalism. Yet the individual contacts in a variety of settings do seem to provide greater insights into others’ mindsets for those who are trying to move beyond existing stereotypes.”

Security outside the Copacabana Beach media centerKrutky notes that security in Rio was “everywhere,” including military outside her media center station (see photo), plus police and multiple Olympic check-ins, which she found both “reassuring” and almost “suffocating.” She adds, “things did go well with only a few small incidents while I was there. Managing hundreds of thousands of athletes, volunteers and spectators presents a continuing challenged unmatched by any other regular occurring global event.  Brazilians, like other hosts, deserve credit for undertaking the task.”

The good and the bad for a changed Rio

Certainly, Krutky says, Brazil won't be the same following the games. “The benefits--sparkling new subway, beautiful new stadium in Barra, a coming together of support for the government to give meaning to their earlier motto of ‘We are all Olympians,’ and the downside costs and debt will, over time, likely bring more tourism and enhanced attention to a country which has not yet been able to productively harness its multiple resources and great potential.”

“As with other developing country Olympic hosts, the problems surface much more quickly than the benefits which are manifest over a longer time span.”

Did the world’s biggest quadrennial gathering succeed or fail?

Krutky’s overall impression? “This is the world's biggest continuing coming together in an institutionalized setting for a theoretically nongovernment organized sports competition and it provides a fascinating way to look at global interactions from a variety of perspectives: International Olympic Committee, national governments, sports federations, athletes, spectators, host government and country, volunteers, citizens, multinational sponsors and advertisers, and global audiences.”

The story of the Olympics, Krutky explains, changes depending on that viewpoint. “Whether it be the success or failure of the individual athletes, the friendships made among those involved, the frequently cited country medal counts or darker side of the host country costs, the Russian doping scandal and the widely covered Ryan Lochte post-swimming party fiasco, Rio was a global phenomenon, but what it means depends on who you ask.”

More BW people in Rio

In addition to Dr. Krutky, BW was also represented at the games by Carol Morton, Ph.D.emeritus faculty member in the BW School of Health, Physical Education, and Sport Sciences, who has attended/volunteered at the past 10 summer games and did a sabbatical in Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the Olympic Museum and Research Center, and international affairs-national security major Chris Sprague, who worked Rio's track and field events.