For & Against: The Olympics8 August 2016
by Jack Francis Musgrave
Citius, Altius, Fortius, motherfuckers. Fire up the faux-patriotism and start memorising the names of our 100 metre sprinters, because four years has come and gone and it’s time for the greatest spectacle of the human form: the Olympics. I fucking love the Olympics. In spite of the constant doping dramas, economic disaster and at its worst, murder, there’s this naive joy that comes around every olympiad. Forgetting all our woes for less than a month just so we can all enjoy the pole vaulting. The Norwegian curling team putting on their specialist curling pants without using their hands. This is the Olympics: just pure fun. Hoping for Australia to win for the first two days then pretending like you never cared when we get overtaken by Egypt. Being able to pick any random sport and support some kid from Launceston ’cos he’s wearing the Green and Gold, or choosing some Eastern European country you assume is the underdog ’cos anyone but the Yanks. You don’t even need to enjoy sport for it to be fun. Who doesn’t love the four straight hours of nationalistic wank that is the opening ceremony? Or, if you’re that bit more cynical, this year you get to enjoy watching the total collapse of a country in realtime. To me though, the Olympics is the last bastion of weird-arse sports. The only time I can watch my fencing on Australian TV, at five in the fucking morning. Timezones: the greatest Olympic villain this side of the former USSR. One of my favourite sports is the 50km racewalk, where over the course of four hours you get the honour of watching people walk funny, shit themselves and collapse. When else are you ever going to watch European Handball? Or some 50kg dude clean-and-jerking 250 kg? The Olympics is for the weird. This whole thing is for the weird kid who did taekwondo while you were fucked off your face on Cruisers at some mate of a mate’s shed. That kid who did table tennis and was just a bit too into Japan. The girl who had to part-time highschool so she could cycle 50km every day. After the Olympics, you will never think of them again. But this year? They will hear the roar of the world.
They say that in 2020, Japan is creating an artificial meteor shower to chuck in the sky at their opening ceremony. It is possibly the dumbest, most unnecessary thing I’ve ever heard suggested. And I can’t fucking wait. Now if only Australia could get around bribing the IOC to bring it back down Victoria way just once before I die.
by Frances Connors
The Olympics serve as a neoliberal wankfest for countries to compete over who can sport better while also screwing over all the poor people in whichever ‘blessed’ city gets to host that year.
In the lead up to Brazil’s 2016 Olympics, ‘suspicious’ individuals in Rio were arrested and relocated. Mostly this involved a systematic targeting of homeless people but even having a house can’t protect you from Olympic devastation as bulldozers raze through residential areas to make way for sporting infrastructure. In this scenario, not only do the most vulnerable people in the city lose their homes but billions of dollars are spent developing stadiums that will mostly serve as a grim reminder that your city cared more about having a group of foreign people run around a track, swim laps or throw a pointy stick in front of other foreigners instead of you.
Cities that host the Olympics rarely make any money on the massive sporting event and hosting it seems to purely be for bragging rights. For countries like China, Brazil or Dubai (who also bid for the 2016 Olympics), it is often seen as a way to prove your country can compete with Western powers and participate in all the same posturing that helps create empty vacuous statements like “The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”.
This statement is part of the Olympic charter and the Olympics have certainly held true to their dedication to peace, such as the 1936 Berlin Olympics hosted by Adolf Hitler or the Moscow Olympics in 1980, held just as the Soviet Union was invading Afghanistan.
I’m not totally anti-sport but the Olympics has turned into a weird capitalist monster more interested in building fancy stadiums to serve as an international pissing contest rather than celebrating the physical and emotional accomplishments of athletes. The price to pay for this nationalist cockfight is literally people’s homes and ability to exist in their own city.
Plus, Australia always has terrible opening ceremony outfits and if you don’t believe me, check out the 1992 abomination featuring cream socks and khaki shorts even your dad would think twice about wearing.