Now, I am one of those purist types who believe that only track, field, boxing, and wrestling should be in the Olympics. For other sports (and other things that are not sports that are for some reason in the Olympics), you can have world championships. In fact, in many sports, you do.
For instance, why is soccer in the Olympics? There's a World Cup. And people actually care about the World Cup. And the best players play in the World Cup, whereas they avoid the Olympics like the plague. They already have enough fake tournaments in which they can injure themselves. They don't need the Olympics.
But at least the World Cup is in a different year from the Olympics. The US Open is in two weeks. No one is watching Olympic tennis. No one cares about the outcome. The defending champion had to be extended qualification specially because he apparently has forgotten how to play in the intervening years. Also, he's some scrub of whom I have never heard.
And yet, both Federer and Nadal, and a sprinkling of other distinguished players, are in Beijing, putting their bodies and lungs at risk for a title that means absolutely nothing in tennis. The Olympics are not as big as any of the Grand Slams. I don't know if, having listed the Grand Slams in order of importance, I would put the Olympics next. Perhaps they are Switzerland's and Spain's best hopes for a gold? That's sad, but still doesn't make it acceptable.
Andy Roddick is not going to the Olympics so that he can prepare for the Slam on his home turf. Now, he's still not going to win, but his example should be instructive. I don't know, Rafa, that biting that gold medal is going to be all that satisfying....