In 1936, the very first television broadcast was sent out into the airwaves of space by none other than Adolf Hitler. In a packed stadium, decorated with S.S. troops and Swastikas galore, Hitler announced that the Berlin Summer Olympic Games were officially open.
This, of course, leaves a foul taste in my mouth, and I’m afraid that although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, the quivering branches of my personal prejudice against the idea itself might have sprouted its roots in this; before I was even born.
Yet, standing on principle alone, I think spending exorbitant amounts of money in order to produce and promote this particular exclusive event in Sochi (which bans, beats and detains gay people) is as ridiculous as an episode of ‘Rich Dicks’ on Kroll Show.
What happened to brass tacks integrity? Standing and fighting for what’s right? Putting people before profit? Are we not being distracted from the real issues?
At a time when the Canadian government is represented by someone who is bound and determined to sell Canada’s long standing integrity to the highest bidder, we in Canada are facing imminent moral, ethical and environmental bankruptcy.
I wonder if perhaps our attention should be paid to more pressing issues, like the expansion of the Alberta oil sands, the TTP, the fact that world security organisations are in bed together and are uprooting legal and constitutional ‘givens’, that pure scientific research designed to protect and serve the human race is being abolished, or to the promotion of sustainable global food resources, and environmental protection – to mention a few – rather that on maintaining anything which promotes exclusivity, which itself is based on maintaining economic gaps (which is pet-named ‘economic growth’), or on entertainment based distractions – or ‘Games’ – as it were.
Long sentence. I apologize. Long thoughts in my head over this very disturbing apathetic trend.
What scorches me in particular about these latest ‘games’, namely the Sochi Games in Russia, is the fact that they were openly promoting what in this country, we would call ‘hate crimes’. To protect their right to do so, 40,000 armed police and special service officers were called to duty. What a warm, holistic and welcoming atmosphere that must be.
Aside from the fact that I think our attention should be paid to more pressing issues, the anti-gay movement espoused and supported by Vladimir Putin is reason enough to boycott the entire event. In my opinion, to ban ‘gay people’ from even being in proximity, and to go so far as to beat, pepper spray and detain them for protesting, is as out in left field as Hitler was, and as ridiculous as saying, ‘Yeah, we don’t think women should have rights, so no women are allowed to compete or be present for the games’.
Why didn’t they just get it over with and call them the Hunger Games?
But as expensive as they are, and as exclusive as they are, how ‘exclusive’ are they really?
Apparently, there are potentially rabid stray dogs roaming around everywhere. Well, some aren’t roaming anymore, but their presence is still apparent. And the conditions being met by the athletes themselves and journalists upon arrival leave something to be desired.
From a February 4th story by Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post:
“Some journalists arriving in Sochi are describing appalling conditions in the housing there, where only six of nine media hotels are ready for guests. Hotels are still under construction. Water, if it’s running, isn’t drinkable. One German photographer told the AP over the weekend that his hotel still had stray dogs and construction workers wandering in and out of rooms.”
Apparently, as well, the water is brown, door knobs and light fixtures randomly fall to the floor, construction has been left unfinished and there is surveillance in the hotel rooms – even in the bathrooms – which is apparently necessary in order to prevent foreigners from running the water all day. Water terrorists!
Is this what the Olympics is really about – spending money on appearances? Why was it necessary to spend $9.4 billion on this? To promote exclusion and hate in favour of a massive illusion? Perhaps this has more to do with political posturing than with athletic competition. And this is what frightens me; what left a bad taste in my mouth before I was even born. What remains a problem to this day: We follow too easily. We forget too easily. We are too easily lured by pretty, empty promises.
In any case, despite my lack of enthusiasm concerning the Games, and my thoughts about how our attention and capital could be better invested, as an athlete, I think the concept of elite athletes competing against each other is a noble one. However, it is unfortunate that the venue for the latter has been overshadowed by something that has nothing to do with virtuous competition.
No matter how pure the motivations of the athletes might be, or how noble the idea behind the games, the bottom line is, I think it entirely immoral to support anything that spends billions in order to promote the exclusion and, in this case, hatred of others.
Constructing Olympic Sites in Sochi via Wikimedia Commons