We are just before the end of another Olympiad, and we were able to see that the landing of bands, the marathon of ideologies and the gymnasium of nationalism were also part of the sporting mega-event. During the games, we could notice that the gold medal policy remains unbeaten and that the sport continues to be a powerful tool of state propaganda.
“It seems ironic to me that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to present itself as an apolitical organization, because the advent of modern Olympic Games was political”, says Gerald Gems, professor emeritus of North Central College. “The first edition of the competition, in 1896, was organized by western countries, promoting specific sports, also western. Whoever wanted to participate had to adapt to these rules in this group, as it works today. The IOC is still controlled, basically, basically. , by hombres blancos occidentales”, añade.
Gems recalls that all editions of Olympic Games have been, for different reasons, political scenarios, which were held by the search for gender equality, the inclusion of black and indigenous people or other disputes. The peak of sports as a political tool was found in the 1936 edition, celebrated in Hitler’s Germany. “All there, the world saw the clash of political ideologies, when the Americans, and especially the American black athletes, defeated the so-called ‘superreason’ of Hitler”, reports Gems.
A similar rivalry took place during the Cold War, as Robert Edelman, professor of sports history at the University of California, in San Diego, explains: “On one side we had capitalism, on the other, communism. Many people say that when It is impossible to attack an opponent with weapons, we do it through sport, which causes us this level of competence.”
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The exchange of poles is a recurrent modality in Olympic Games. Gerald Gems recalls that the United States boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games, celebrated in Moscow, due to the Soviet invasion of Afganistan; four years after, it was the Soviet Union that boycotted the Olympic Games, held in Los Angeles, United States.
“Everything is part of a great political game. In this edition, this was evident with Taiwan, who was only able to participate under the name ‘China Taipei’, so as not to disgust China”, says Gems.
While Taiwan claims to be a sovereign and independent country, and some nations recognize it as such, China claims that Islam is part of its territory. The sovereignty of Taiwan is a delicate topic in international relations
It should not be noted, therefore, that the maximum classification of the Olympic Games is also a reflection of what we see in the geopolitical scenario. In the last editions of the event, United States and China competed for the first place in the medallero, and in the edition of 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, the Asians took it pole position to win the mayor cantidad of gold medals. In the official record, the gold medal has a heavier weight than the others.
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This year, China also appears before the United States, which decided to change the criteria of its medal to reflect its own victory. The New York Times now adopts the absolute number of medals as a criterion for classification, which gives American athletes a shot and places the American delegation in the first place on the list.
“It is clear that this is not a sporting manifestation. This is about cultural, economic and social hegemony. The United States and China know that the Olympic Games are one of the ways in which they have to demonstrate their firepower. China has been challenging for years. the United States, and there is a time that should be transferred economically in the next 10 years”, analyzes Gems.
Individual decisions are also political, according to the teacher
Without embargo, according to Edelman, not all political disputes are evident. While other Olympic Games were marked by disputes between communist and capitalist countries and protests against racism, the current edition in Tokyo offers space for Simone Biles’ “more subjective” agenda. The American gymnast, a dueña of 32 Olympic and world medals, was one of the favorites for the podio in Tokyo, but she withdrew from many of her performances to protect her mental health.
“In all the political manifestation seen in the Olympic Games and favorable to the sportsmen’s country of origin, as in the case of Biles, which shows the psychological pressure to which they are subject”, says the professor at the University of California
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Edelman, who defends the protests of athletes and understands that Olympic Games are and must be political, affirms that the “exploitation” of champions by politicians is part of the game.
“Each leader has a way of being and an exchange with sportsmen, as we saw when some winners refused, for example, to visit Donald Trump’s Casa Blanca. Asimism, hub racist sportsmen who did not attend Obama’s workshop All this is a great action and comes loaded with symbols”, analyzes Edelman.
Edition: Thales Schmidt