PARIS: A lot of women will have to have a lot of sex with a lot of men to get Logan Campbell to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Yes, you read that right. Campbell, to cut a long story short, is a New Zealand taekwondo athlete who has opened a brothel to finance his ambition of lifting an Olympic medal in London.
At the last Games, in Beijing, Campbell competed in the 68-kilogram category only to be swept aside in the first round by eventual bronze medal winner Sung Yu-Chi of Taiwan.
To do better in London, Campbell figures he needs roughly $200,000 so that he, a doctor and a coach can travel, train and compete beforehand in Europe and Asia. Unlike last time, he doesn’t want his parents to foot most of the bill.
‘My mother has wanted a new kitchen for the past 10 years but hasn’t been able to do that because she has spent all her money on my taekwondo,’ he says.
Hence his conversion to brothel-keeping. He has more than a dozen women handing over half their earnings to him. It is, in his words, ‘a good moneymaking industry.’
Here’s the question: can a pimp be an Olympian? The answer would have to be ‘no.’
The two must be mutually exclusive if Olympic values are to be preserved.
But this is a tricky one because, legally, Campbell is doing nothing wrong.
New Zealand decriminalised prostitution six years ago. The parliamentary vote – 60-59, with one lawmaker abstaining – could not have been closer – a measure of how sensitive this was.
The result – at least according to government-appointed experts – has been more positive than negative. In a review last year, they concluded that the Prostitution Reform Act has not, as some feared, led to a surge in prostitution and that ‘the vast majority of people involved in the sex industry are better off … than they were previously.’
Brothels and prostitutes openly advertise (‘Wet & Wild Sunday Special,’ ‘Tuesday 3Some – get your second lady half price!’). Campbell sees himself as nothing more than a businessman, able thanks to the law to sell sex as others would kebabs or cars, without an ounce of shame.
‘I’d feel worse selling cigarettes than doing what I’m doing,’ he said in a phone interview. ‘What I’m doing is safe and healthy.’
‘I run a real classy place, it’s not a third world country,’ he added. ‘All the girls are over 20 years old, they are here of their own free will, they make more money than I do.’
Minimum charge is 500 New Zealand dollars for two hours, including sex, while 3,000 dollars buys ‘a whole night with one of our ladies, restaurant, dancing and then back to the hotel.’
‘We supply everything for them, advertising, drivers, security, even condoms.’ Campbell says his profit margin is 15-20 per cent.
The one thing he and his Olympic Committee agree on is that athletes from New Zealand suffer a natural disadvantage: being on the bottom of the world puts them a long way from anywhere other than Australia, and that translates into extra costs and hassle for those like Campbell who want to train overseas.
‘It’s a fact of life for every New Zealand sports person,’ says Barry Maister, the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s secretary general. ‘We travel for 30 hours every time we leave the country.’
But, as Maister also points out, that’s hardly an excuse. Campbell, after all, is not the only Olympic athlete who struggles to make ends meet. Yet others don’t resort to brothel-keeping.
Whether it’s legal or not in New Zealand isn’t the point. Pimping simply isn’t suitable employment for an Olympian.
Like it or not, people around the world – including those in countries where prostitution is illegal – look up to these sporting gods. Being a role model is integral to being an Olympian. Campbell is failing there – just as Olympians from the Netherlands would if they financed themselves by selling marijuana, even though it’s tolerated in their country.
Being an Olympian is about succeeding through your own sweat, not that of prostitutes. Perhaps Campbell’s case would be stronger if he was selling his own body, not others’. But he’s avoiding that route.
‘I’ve got a girlfriend and there’s no market over here for male escorts,’ he says.
Rightly, New Zealand Olympic officials are making it clear that Campbell is unlikely to be selected for London as long as he stays in his current line of work.
The International Olympic Committee seemingly agrees. In a statement for this article, it said it ‘generally does not comment on individual athletes whose actions are within the law. However, as a general rule, the IOC would expect athletes to be strong role models for the rest of society and for youth in particular.’
Be a pimp or an Olympian, not both. —AP