Aepgirl you are wrong. It is because it is on a professional footing that it is much more equal. Back in the days when it pretended to be amateur - there were several countries which happily got round that ruling. USA just joined all their elite athletes upto College courses and made them 'students', whilst continuing full time training. USSR and other easter block countries joined all their elite athletes to their armed services and continued their full time training.
UK did not do any of this resulting in many of their Olympic athletes having to go on to welfare benefits in order to be able to any training - not helpful if they also had families to support. In 1996 at Atlanta, some of the UK Olympians were selling off their tracksuits, etc in order to try to raise cash for their families at home. UK came 34th in the medal table then with just one gold medal.
Fortunately, the lottery grants brought this to an end (largely) in UK and many of our top elite athletes have had access to funding so they compete on the world stage and be trained properly and also have the back-up medical and psychological support.
This funding depends on them bringing home medals at the Olympics. No medal, no future funding is often the case.
I have never been an elite athlete of any sort, or even close to it - however, I have known many in several sports. Particularly in two in which I have had a long-time involvement. These people dedicate their lives to their sport and no Olympics - for any reason - often causes very long-term damage to their mental health
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