2008-08-25

Olympic Politics

I felt it was important to wait until the Olympics had come to a close before commenting on this issue. So here it is:

In response to criticism of why China got the Olympics, despite its horrible record on human rights, I heard one response say that made me think for a day or 2 before dismissing it. The argument was that the Olympics isn't a forum for politics or politcal agendas. Rather, it has always been, and continues to be, a place where people can set aside cultural and political differences (like wars) and compete against each other in the arena of sports.

When the Olympics was first played and perhaps even when the modern version first began it met or came close to achieving this altruistic goal. But now the Olympics is ENTIRELY about politics.

The people who decide which city/nation will get to host the Olympics have been revealed as nothing but opprotunistic pilferers. They accept numerous gifts and benefits in exchange for their endorsement.

Those who actually base their opinion on proper reasons it usually boils down to infrastructure. The Olympics is SO huge that the city needs to be able to accommodate the influx of hundreds of thousands of athletes and visitors from many different countries, speaking many different languages. It requires action on behalf of the city, provincial, & federal governments (politics) to make sure the infrastructure is there and can handle it.

Then there is the most obvious element of the athletes themselves. Training at the level of an Olympic athelete is an extremely expensive endeavour. Corporate sponsorship can help. But it can only go so far. And seriously, isn't the Olympics supposed to be an amateur competition? Without sustained political pressure for athletic funding & support then a country can't put together a competitively relevant program.

So with all the politics that are invloved in the Olympics, I think it's perfectly fair and relevant to discuss a countries record on human rights issues when determining a city/countries suitability (or lack thereof) as a host city.
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