Liberal Arts Blog — The Olympics: A Mixed Bag
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic — The Olympics: A Mixed Bag
The Olympics are awesome, right? A great celebration of our common humanity, the pursuit of excellence, and the importance of sports and fitness? With a little dollop of national pride? Well, not to all analysts. Notably David Goldblatt, the author of “The Games: a Global History of the Olympics” who is calling for the abolition of the Olympics after the Tokyo Games. In a nutshell “The traveling circus shows the underside of sports — displacing citizens, bullying athletes, and endorsing cruel regimes.” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE EMPTY SEATS AT THE TOKYO STADIUM WILL BE THE PERFECT SYMBOL
1.) “The empty seats in the stadiums of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are a blessing in disguise, for the sporting spectacle, no matter how good, will not be able to dispel the fact that this super-spreader event is being held in the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis and against the wishes of the vast majority of the Japanese public.”
2. “In so doing, the International Olympic Committee — which earnestly believes itself to be the leader of a global social movement — has been revealed as no more than the traveling circus of the global sports industry, ready to make sure the broadcasters get what they need come what may.”
3.) Who else benefits? Well: “construction companies, the corrupt officials and politicians who have handed out contracts to them, and property developers.”
NB: “The local police and national security agencies are also considerable beneficiaries given that security costs are now around $2 bn. Rio didn’t build a single community sporting facility but its riot police got the very best in new Kevlar-plated armour and Tasers.”
MEXICO CITY 1968, BEIJING 2022, AND THE GENERAL RULE
1. “On the eve of the 1968 games, the Mexican government slaughtered over 300 protesters in cold blood and launched a war of terror on the student movement that opposed it. When the then IOC president, Avery Brundage, was asked to comment on the matter, he replied: “I was at the ballet.””
2. “Next year’s Beijing Winter Olympics, to be conducted alongside the genocidal repression of the Uyghurs, will be grotesque; and woe betide any athlete that wants to exercise the rights to free speech and protest while they are there.”
3. “The IOC’s history is one of genuflecting before power and violence, and bullying the athletes it claims to revere.”
FALSE CLAIMS DEBUNKED — THE ALLEGED BENEFITS TO HOST CITIES AND TO HEALTH
1. “With the exception of Barcelona 1992, no modern Games has raised a host city’s rate of economic growth, levels of skills and employment, tourist income or productivity.”
2. “Similarly, the claim that the Olympics raise the level of sporting participation is a myth. After London 2012 — the only Games to actually take the proposition seriously — activity rates fell because the government’s austerity programme led to the widespread closure of sporting facilities.”
3. “Olympians might inspire other Olympians — but as physical and psychological outliers they have absolutely no impact on the behaviour of the general public. Ask the Finns, who abandoned the state-sponsored pursuit of medals and spent the money instead on active transport and accessible facilities. They barely win anything any more, but they have the most active and healthy old people in the world. In Britain we have a sack of gold and an obesity crisis.”
NB: “The urban programmes that accompanied Seoul 1988 and Beijing 2008 saw almost 2 million people displaced. More recently, Rio was staged on the back of over 60,000 people who had to get out of their homes and businesses: they were often intimidated and moved to inferior and distant housing. The vast majority were barely compensated. And then there are the police sweeps that clear homeless and mentally ill people from previously public spaces.”
For the last three years of posts organized by theme:
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.