The so-called modern-era Olympic Games have been a perfect nonsense since the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin created them in 1896.
But now, they seem to be stepping into a brand new level of scandal: the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) is demanding that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) change its rules aimed against using the Games as a propaganda vehicle.
The rules, as they exist now, forbid any political, religious and race propaganda. According to the U.S. Olympic crowd, that’s unacceptable. The IOC should adjust the rules in the (now wait for it) “correct direction,” and it should permit “peaceful and decent demonstrations in support of racial and social justice.”
Who decides whether those demonstrations are peaceful and decent, and whether what they are demanding is racial and social justice has been left unanswered.
Obviously, based on what we’ve seen thus far, the decision would remain in the hands of those peaceful looters, arsonists, thieves, and, generally speaking, racist bullies.
Given the phrasing of the American Olympian demand, it would be based on race. That is, it would be racist.
Selective, that is.
True, two American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were expelled from the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City for an openly political statement: while standing on the winners’ podium, with their country’s anthem playing in their honour, they raised their fists in a clear gesture of protest against what they thought were racial inequalities in the U.S.
Of course, some naïve observers from all over the world would look at their open protest in amazement: what oppression? they would ask. You must have had ample opportunities to train to become world-class athletes, you have just won on the world’s greatest stage, so, what’s your problem?
The politically correct crowd in the U.S. seems to be rather selective in picking what (or whom) to object to.
Yes, the conditions for some of the black Americans may be quite dire. This topic really is not new, and it happens to be too involved. Still facts would prove beyond any doubt that black Americans are not as much victims of oppression by others as they are victims of their own lacking will to apply themselves in order to get ahead.
The proof is in the pudding: just look at the many black Americans who have succeeded in whichever field they decided to succeed. Not only in sports, and not only in entertainment.
In any case, one is left wondering: why don’t the American Olympic poohbahs say that the Israeli athletes killed by members of the Black September at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, in 1972 were victims of a crime?
Yes, it would have meant taking sides, and it would have been a political statement.
Or: would the American Olympian chiefs agree that, for example, Serbs in the territory known as Kosovo face something too close for comfort to genocide?
How about supporting the Christian Armenians against attacks by Muslim-oriented Azerbaijanis in Nagorno-Karabakh?
Getting back to 1968 and Mexico City: Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská achieved the almost impossible at the time: she broke through the Soviet dominance in her sport.
As she stood on the winners’ rostrum, she bowed slightly. She did so to remind the world that Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact armies had just a couple of months earlier invaded her country.
She would later admit she was afraid the IOC would kick her out because it would recognize her gesture as a political protest.
Come to think of it, while Tommie Smith and John Carlos were protesting against what they perceived had been injustices, Věra Čáslavská protested against a very real military invasion of her country.
The modern-era Olympic Games were originally supposed to provide entertainment for French aristocrats who were bored stiff, spending their summers at Côte d’Azur, along the French Riviera. Debauchery has its limits after all.
And, since the Baron knew that the English were good at inventing rules, he asked them for help. The English blue-blood, facing the same boring summers (how many foxes can you hunt before killing them all?) obliged.
That, and nothing else, was the reason for declaring the Olympic Games a strictly amateur affair. It definitely had nothing to do with the ancient Greek Olympiads where doping and outright cheating were quite openly admitted as the proper ways to conduct the business of winning. No amateurs in ancient Greece, either.
After the masses of the unwashed invaded the modern-era Olympic Games, the demand for pure amateur status would remain. But, as time progressed, participation and, especially, Olympic success would become matters of public pride. Starting with Adolf Hitler’s 1936 Games, the Olympiads would become an ideological tool to prove one system’s superiority over all others.
It was also Hitler’s Imperial Office (Reichskanzlei) that would introduce the torch relay. The idea included the demand that the final runner’s name remain secret until he accepts the torch. Interestingly, too, the first final runner would be an activist (ein Funktionär) with the Hitler youth organization (Hitlerjugend), as sporting a group as can be.
After the Second World War, as communist countries would decide that Hitler wasn’t that wrong, after all, and that success in the Olympic sports stadia could be linked directly to boasting their system’s advantages, Olympic Games would become precisely that: an ideological tool. Western countries didn’t catch up fast enough. That made their governments uneasy. The fact that most athletes from the communist countries were, in fact, professionals, didn’t help matters much, either.
Oh no, they all had other jobs listed in their resumes. Their clubs would be attached to all kinds of corporations. Those corporations, of course, were state-owned. The athletes would be, on paper, working as this or that, but in reality, they would only show up to collect their salaries.
In any case, all this would erode the idea of amateurism in the Olympic movement and, eventually, professionals would be allowed in.
To sum up: the modern-era Olympic movement has been based on hypocrisy since its inception in 1896.
The American Olympic Committee is only continuing in the trend. Whether the world governing body accepts it remains to be seen. But we shouldn’t keep our hopes high: given the IOC’s infamous history of perfectly cynical underhanded skulduggery, it’s going to be only a question of time until we see signs such as: We compete for black lives.
The NHL did it to open the closing part of its shortened season 2019-2020, so why not the Olympians?