More On: Winter Olympics
And how to resurrect their glory.
If you're like me, you're not watching the Olympics, presently taking place in that winter paradise of Beijing, China, where the snow is utterly fake but the silencing of American athletes is depressingly genuine.
More than simply another terrible mascot, time zone differences, and the "cultural genocide" of Uyghurs killed the excitement during the opening ceremony's TV viewership by 43 percent. Interest in the Olympics has been falling for decades now, which is a great trend if you care about human dignity and wasted government expenditure.
One of the most corrupt and scandal-ridden sporting organizations in history is in charge of the games, which are a worldwide heist. When towns and nations are stupid enough to beg for the opportunity to host the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee is glad to hugely rip them off. (I'm looking at you, Los Angeles!). While sucking their victims dry, they provide credibility to monsters like Adolph Hitler, Leonid Brezhnev, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping by legitimizing their own tyrannical regimes.
More significantly, they are the expression of a worn-out, collectivist 20th-century mentality toward rivalry among states that makes no sense in our more globalized, individualistic world. The current games was launched in 1896 by French nobleman Pierre de Coubertin as a method of resurrecting Gallic national pride after his country had its ass pounded by Germany in the Franco-Prussian War. That's why athletes represent nations rather than themselves. In addition, the Olympics became more politicized over the twentieth century, culminating in Hitler's overt staging of the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a demonstration of German military power and aggression.
The Olympics served as another another pawn in the waning conflict between the free world and communist during the Cold War. It was as much a geopolitical battle as anything taking place in Southeast Asia or Central America when the United States and Soviet Union squared off in basketball and hockey.
When Bruce Jenner established a world record in the 1976 decathlon by kicking communist asses, it wasn't only about the human body being pushed to its limits; it was also about realpolitik and nuclear war. But there was a ton of collateral damage from such a framing, with continuous national boycotts over political differences meaning that athletes who had prepared for years were symbolically slain on the altar of nationality. In other words, international politics may lead to the death of innocent people, as it did in the case of the Israeli athletes who were assassinated at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
"The most important thing at the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part," as Coubertin famously said. But when the games are taking place in an authoritarian nation, and we're still calculating medals by country, and the athletes are regarded as geopolitical puppets rather than magnificent people, it makes more sense than ever to shut out the Olympics.
Let the competitors represent themselves on a neutral playing field apart from the distraction of politics and you'll see the crowd return, eager to support athletes who inspire us by embracing the Olympic ideal of going "Faster, Higher, Stronger."
Edited by Regan Taylor. Written by Nick Gillespie.