Feb 17, 2014
If you’ve tuned in or read about the Olympic Winter Games at Sochi, Russia, you’ve almost surely been told that there are exceptional and never-ending problems with just about everything: Hotel furnishings, showers, drinking water and other things were said to be unfinished, hastily slapped together or hazardous – as if nothing like this ever happened at Olympic games before.
All this slanted reporting went in the same direction – to convince us that the supposedly brutal, stupid Russians were really screwing things up again.
In fact, every Olympics has had it own problems and politics. In 1976, 1980, and 1984 entire nations (including the U.S. and the Soviet Union) refused to have their athletes compete in protest over rival nations hosting the games, or just being allowed to have their athletes participate.
As an ABC reporter stated a few days ago, “The Olympics you might say are the planet’s most political apolitical event.”
Worst of all, coverage here makes it seem like U.S. athletes are the only ones worth watching, the only ones with background stories, who persevere despite the odds, who perform bravely even when they lose. The athletes from other countries barely get the time of day, unless their stories can be used to criticize their country of origin. All this is used to reinforce the worst nationalist attitudes, and all the imperialist policies that the U.S. carries out around the world are thereby justified.
The Olympic Games are supposed to be – and could be – better than this: a real celebration of the abilities of the best athletes from all over the world, no matter what country they come from. But in the world today – divided into nations with governments devoted to serving the interests of the rich and powerful in each nation – the Olympics will never be this.