Friday, August 8, 2008

Offensive Olympics

It's time for the Olympic games again. Ugh.

Of course, I know that the world does not revolve around me, and that the USOC and the IOC cannot possibly be trying to offend my sensibilities on every possible front, but it does seem that way.

First there was Munich in 1972. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed in cold blood by the Black September terrorist group. This massacre took place in the Olympic Village itself. You would think that would cause them to suspend the games, or at least to honor those athletes at each subsequent Olympic Games, but nope. Let's just pretend it never happened, and let the games go on.

Then, there was the "Gay Olympics" controversy. Tom Waddell, a decathlete in the Mexico City Olympic Games of 1968, began a competition in 1982 that would feature gay and lesbian athletes. He called it the Gay Olympics, and the USOC didn't like that one bit. In the words of the Wikipedia article about Tom Waddell:

"Although previously the Rat Olympics, Police Olympics, Dog Olympics, and Special Olympics had all gone unchallenged, the USOC felt that the use of the name in a homosexual event would tarnish the reputation of their trademark. The injunction was eventually granted and hundreds of thousands of dollars in merchandise and signage had to be removed from the event in order to adhere with the court's decree. That setback, however, didn’t stop the games from being a success as over 1,600 athletes descended on the city to compete in the first ever newly named Gay Games. Waddell had made his dream come true and had given the opportunity for gay athletes from around the world to show that they can be a powerful force in sport."

Tom Waddell died of AIDS in 1987, and the USOC persecuted him with injunctions and demands for court costs till the day of his death with a mean-spiritedness way out of proportion to the violation. In 1988, VISAcard supported the USOC by donating a percentage of every purchase made with their card to that year's Olympics, and gay activists protested by cutting up their VISA cards and sending them back to the company. Tom Waddell's panel in the AIDS quilt spells out his name in cut-up VISA cards.

And now it's China, with all its human rights violations and persecutions of Falun Gong. The Olympics are very big business, but they don't have much to do with a spirit of understanding and cooperation. Let the games begin. But I won't be watching.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At least the persecutions are publicized - here in the USA they are not - they're undercover and subliminal and hoped not to be discovered by the citizens.