Marc Perelman pulls no punches in this succinct and searing broadside, assailing the ‘recent form of barbarism’ that is the global sporting event. Forget the Olympics and consider, under Perelman’s guidance, the ledger of inequities maintained by such supposedly harmless games.
They have provided a smokescreen for the forcible removal of ‘undesirables’; aided governments in the pursuit of racist agendas; affirmed the hypocrisy of drug-testing in an industry where doping is more an imperative than an aberration; and developed the pornographic hybrid that Perelman dubs ‘sporn’, a further twist in our corrupt obsession with the body.
Drawing examples from the modern history of the international sporting event, Perelman argues that today’s colosseums, upheld as examples of ‘health’, have become the steamroller for a decadent age fixated on competition, fame and elitism.
Petition translated by David Broder.
1936 Berlin Olympics. via Wikimedia Commons.
Budapest, Los Angeles and Paris are still battling it out to be ‘host city’ for the 2024 Olympic Games, due to be selected by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in September 2017. However, it is still possible that yet another city will withdraw from the contest, just like so many others that had earlier declared themselves candidates to welcome the Games. Such was the case of Boston (lack of popular support), Hamburg (in a referendum citizens voted against their city’s candidacy) and most recently Rome. Remembering that Italians are still paying the bill for the 1960 Games, Rome gave up on its candidacy for 2024 precisely so as to avoid ‘mortgaging the city’s future’. For some observers Donald Trump’s victory is bad news for Los Angeles. But maybe not. The IOC has shown in the past that sexist, racist and xenophobic statements do nothing to disturb its plans. On the contrary, organising the Games in the land ruled by a billionaire is the stuff of dreams for the members of the Olympics’ governing body; it might actually help the American city’s candidacy.
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.
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.