There have been outrageous abuses of power before and during the Olympic Games in London this year. These include a police attack on, and mass arrests during, a “critical mass” bike ride, the placing of missiles on civilian roofs despite protests by affected residents, and special “Olympic lanes” on roads whose use is limited those granted special permission by games organisers.
The overwhelming feeling in Britain appears to be national pride that such an Olympics was pulled off so successfully. Part of this is tied to Britain’s sporting success at the games. (This is the reason why the British government has pumped tens of millions of pounds into sports such as rowing.) The “feel good factor” of the Olympics depends a lot on the success of the host nation.
The Olympics are a sporting and social phenomenon without parallel. The Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics was watched by close to 1 billion people.
Viewers for individual events can be remarkable. The website Sporting Intelligence said 184 million people watched a live women’s volleyball match between China and Cuba at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A further 450 million people watched part of it.
The huge public interest in the Olympics means that what may seem to be ordinary events can have global ramifications. It also makes the Olympics of intense interest to political leaders and the world’s biggest corporations.
It rarely takes very long into an Olympics for the myth that the games are above politics to be shattered. For the London 2012 games, the myth was smashed well before the games begun.
A series of incidents involving Australian athletes have shown that politics are at the heart of the games.
Despite winning the Olympic trial earlier this year, athlete John Steffensen was not selected to represent Australia in the individual 400 metres sprint, replaced by 19 year old Steve Solomon.
Steffensen, a black runner of South African heritage, said in response: “I’ve put up with being racially vilified by this federation, being discriminated against on many teams.
You know it would help if I was a different colour … A lot of my decisions with my federation would be totally different.”
It has not even begun, but a world record has already been set for the London 2012 Olympic games. The games, which begin on July 27, are the most corporatised, militarised and draconian Olympics of all time.
Every day there are fresh stories that reveal that, to British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Olympic spirit means giving corporations and governments free reign to do what they like.
These have ranged from the obscene, such as placing high-velocity missiles on people’s roofs without permission, to the ridiculous. The July 11 Daily Mail said: “Olympic chiefs have banned all 800 food retailers at the 40 Games venues across Britain from dishing up chips because of ‘sponsorship obligations.’” Read more…
When Ange Postecogolou quit Brisbane Roar, who have won the Australian A-league the past two seasons, he stated that “ “I’m a restless soul … a bit like a shark. If you stop moving you die, so I considered I needed a new challenge,’’ The statement immediately reminded me of Pep Guardiola, who a few days later resigned as manager of Barcelona. Guardiola was, above all , restless. His restlessness was what drove him to turn Barcelona into one of the greatest teams of all time and it was his restlessness that drove him to quit, believeing he had taken Barcelona as far as he could, leaving it to someone else to see if they could eveolve Barca further.
April 17 marked 100 days until the beginning of the 30th Olympic Games in London. There is a duality that emerges as a major sporting event arrives. On a purely sporting level, excitement levels rise at the prospect of the best in the world competing against each other but at the same time the impending social and economic disaster becomes clearer in the public’s mind, resulting in mixed feelings. In the case of London, the duality is heightened by the fact that lavish spending on the games will be occurring at a time when savage austerity measures have been imposed on people by the Conservative- Liberal Democratic government.