So is it all just fun and games and are we all just blind to what is wrong with the Olympics.
I don't think so. I think many people have problems with what the Olympics have become with more emphasis on profit than sport and more emphasis on sponsors than athletes, not to mention the impact on the communities the Olympics are held in, which is more often positive for the wealthy and negative for the poor. On the other hand, many have been sucked into the spectacle that the Olympics have become, a spectacle that is dependent on, and supportive of, corporate money and sponsors. Sponsors money feeds the spectacle and the spectacle feeds corporate profits and somewhere in there is IOC empire building.
But we support the Olympics anyway because we still believe in the ideal, and more importantly because it is the only Olympics that the athletes have.
As for the Olympic sponsors, some seem to be really bizarre.
I do find it ironic that the company that has been exploiting Canadians longer than any other company is an official sponsor, especially since their Canadian Olympic clothing is "Made in China", but they do have the protection of the Fashion Police.
I also find it really strange to watch world class athletes promoting McJunk food and I have to wonder how many IOC or VANOC dinner meetings have been held at the Official Restaurant of the Olympics. And then there are the official Olympic drugs, not to mention official beer and wine suppliers. And what is a sporting event without an official gambling provider.
And I am offended by the fact that the Olympic organizers are forcing Canadians, and visitors, who want to use a credit card at the Olympics (and do not have the right card) to get a new one.
And then there is this.
There have been protests raising serious concerns about the Olympics, although protesting at an international sports/cultural event obviously does not receive the same amount of public acceptance as protesting at international political/economic events. The protests have included some damage to the property of corporate sponsors by masked "protesters". They state their case here.
While I can certainly agree that the minimal physical damage done by these masked "protesters" is nowhere near the damage done to the poor and disadvantaged by the holding of the games I cannot condone it, primarily because it does more harm than good to the cause.
I am one who believes people should stand up for what they believe in and not hide behind masks. I am even uncomfortable with the concept of anonymous blogging, but I can understand the reason for it and it does no harm to anyone. If these "protesters" want to make a point about damage done to the poor by doing damage to the property of those they consider to be causing it, then do it out in the open, surrender to the police, and then argue your case in the courts of law and public opinion.
But what I would suggest, as an alternative to protests that alienate the public, is that in the future the emphasis be put on the People’s Summit aspect of the protests and that the protesters propose to the Olympic organizers that they will not take to the streets in exchange for the Olympic organizers sanctioning and publicizing a People’s Summit that examines all aspects of the Olympics. The media should pledge to give the People’s Summit reasonable coverage, especially the host broadcaster. The People’s Summit should be completely independent, possibly university based, and include full criticism of the Olympics. It should provide for some participation by Olympic organizers, which would allow them to state their case and, more importantly, allow them to be held accountable by the public for their actions.
This will be to both sides advantage - the serious protesters will be better able to make their case and reach the public without a public backlash and they will not be tainted by the actions of so-called anarchists, who will be marginalized and easier for the organizers to deal with.
This is not to say that the problems are not serious enough to justify taking to the streets but that the alternative can be more effective in reaching, rather than alienating, the public.
Of course if Olympic organizers are not prepared to be subjected to public scrutiny and public criticism they can always reject the idea and suffer the consequences of continuing, and probably escalating protests at future Olympics.
In closing, I want to say, as a Canadian, that I am proud of all our Bronze Medal Winners and others in the world can make as many jokes about that as they want. I do not believe that you're a loser if you don't win a gold medal. Indeed, if you've worked hard enough to actually be good enough to participate in the Olympics you're already a Winner and I am proud of all of our Olympic athletes.