Today marks the 48th anniversary of the one of the Olympic Games' most famous moments: the Black Power salute of John Carlos and Tommie Smith in Mexico City, 1968. This extract from Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics details the context of the salute, as well as its consequences for Smith and Carlos, and the Games as a whole.
In Power Games, Jules Boykoff offers a political history of the Olympic Games from their nineteenth-century origins through the present.
2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony. Via WikimediaCommons
Below we present an excerpt from Boykoff's 2014 Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games, which theorizes the political economy of the contemporary games. "Some have argued recent Olympic history points to a “neoliberalisation of the Games,” Boykoff writes:
I argue that the Olympics are less about neoliberalism and more about the dynamics of capitalism in general.
What effect does the great sporting-corporate juggernaunt that is the contemporary Olympics have on host cities? And what are the diverse range of tactics that grassroots activists use to protest its damaging results? In this exclusive extract from his recently published Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, leading Olympic expert Jules Boykoff takes the 2012 Olympics in London as a case study of corporate greed and popular resistance against Celebration Capitalism.
With news breaking today that the offices of the building contractor responsible for construction of one of the main competition venues for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have been raided by police, amidst charges that it has skimmed-off millions of dollars of public funds, we revisit Jules Boykoff's essay from NLR 67 on anti-Olympic resistance.
Jules Boykoff's new book, Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, a timely, no-holds barred, critical political history of the modern Olympic Games, is out now.
With the Rio Games mired in a series of corruption scandals, and with the looming threat of the Zika Virus, the question of who the Olympic spectacle actually benefits has been raised once again. In Rio the favelas, typically sites for state repression, have been subject to eviction and displacement and protests against the Games have been subject to militarised policing and massive human rights abuses in order to clear the city for the arrival of athletes and tourists with their entourage of corporate sponsors and media executives. What power do ordinary people have to stop the great sporting spectacles from destroying communities and wasting billions in public funds? And, could the Olympics ever be democratised?
Jules Boykoff is an author, academic and former US National Team Footballer. Regularly cited as one of the world's leading experts on the history of the Olympics, Jules is the author of books on the criminalisation of dissent in the United States, activism and the Olympic Games, and the era of mass spectacle and sporting events, plus several collections of poetry. His new book, Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics, is out now. In this new Five Book Plan, he presents his top five books on the political Olympics.