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First it was politics. Then it was money. After that, more propaganda. Now it’s the ugly combination of politics, propaganda, and money. In the early years of the Olympic Games athletic participation was so pure and honorable a truce was called so spectators and athletes could travel in safety to the game sites through wars. The winner got a chariot ride home through the gate or breach in his city’s walls. The winner was regarded as the symbol of Greek culture at its highest level. But soon towns, cities, and countries determined that winning Olympic events by their champions could bring fame---and fortune. Soon amateurs who ran for pleasure, glory, and the olive wreaths were being defeated by subsidized athletes who ran for the money, paid for by those in power. Then the rich and the politicians combined their malignant forces and turned the games into excessively gawdy displays dominated by professional athletes pretending to be amateurs for a few days. It’s time to dump the whole sordid mess into the stinking, disease-ridden mess of Rio’s Cocacabana Bay. Besides who in his right mind would want to fight the Zika mosquitoes, the foul waters, and Olympic politics?
Some politicians think the Olympics will boost tourism, local patriotism and pride, and a country’s bottom line. Other politicians, mainly fascists and authoritarians like the Chinese and Russians, think the Olympics will add a fourth quality—a huge propaganda bonanza. Think Hitler and Germany in the 1936 Olympics, China in the 2008 games, and Russia’s Putin in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
First, extensive research on the economics of the Games from 2002 on shows that both the Olympics and the World Cup hosts had either negative or minimal benefits in employment, tourism, or economic growth. Perhaps the worst case of debt assumption in sponsoring the Games was Montreal in 1976. Montreal’s Olympic Stadium is still known as the “Big Owe.” It wasn’t until 2006 that all the bills were paid. In the summer games of 2014 London spent about $13 billion and didn’t fill all of its hotel rooms. Vladimir Putin spent $51 billion on the Sochi Winter Games and was ridiculed and laughed at—out of Russia, of course.
A Dark Side Of The Olympics
The rich always get richer in the International Olympics Committee (OEC) negotiations for Game sites and buildings while the poor always end up poorer. Between 1980 and the Games in Seoul, South Korea in 1988,for space 720,000 poor were evicted from their homes. The Seoul Games totaled over two million evictions to build all the required venues. In 2008 China evicted 1.5 million poor in Beijing to build those fantastic buildings shown at the opening ceremony.
Over the last century, the IOC members have had their own scandals over bribery on the choice of game sites. How many millions have exchanged hands? And the games have slipped out of control. Forty-two “sports” now require huge areas and infrastructure, too many and too expensive for any one city to hold. There will be 306 events spread over 19 days in 2016, and 161 medals will go to the men and 136 will go to women. Over 500 gays, including transgenders, cisgenders, queers, and intersexes, are expected to participate in this Olympics, and the battles over what events they can enter has already started. Some 2016 venues are over 30 miles from Rio, complicating travel for spectators and the housing and travel of athletes. Golf and rugby are the new sports added for this year. In the next Olympics, why don’t we add jumping from 25,000 feet without a parachute? Why not add all of the Extreme Sports so popular on TV? Do we really need whitewater kayaking as a sport? Why don’t we add the great Afghanistan soccer-polo type game called Buzhkashi played with the head of freshly killed goat while players dash around on horseback? I see most of the pro golfers in the US and Europe are looking for excuses not to participate. Lots of mosquitoes, back sprains, and big bills to pay. Don’t we have enough golf around the world? Don’t we have enough pro tennis? And why do we have NBA professionals play Olympic basketball? Allowing professional athletes to participate in the Olympics is a great spoiler of what used to be amateur sports. When asked what events are the most interesting in the Olympics, a majority voted for the 100-miter dash and the opening ceremony. One event lasts a little longer than nine seconds and the other lasts for hours.
The Russians have brought doping back to the games with a vengeance, like East Germany did in the 1980’s when their female swimmers took so many steroids and testosterone pills they won everything while growing moustaches, biceps, and narrow hips. There is so much doping going on in many Olympic events about 30% of the American public believes that at least half of all Olympic athletes use performance-enhancing drugs. About 75% believe Russian athletes were more likely to be using drugs because the international doping organization has uncovered rampant state-sponsored doping in all Russian athletics. We seriously need a world “doping” climate change.
While In Rio Don’t Put Your Head In The Water Or Breath The Air In The Sky
Brazil Olympic authorities expect about 500,000 spectators to attend 306 events utilizing about 11,000 athletes. I wonder how many will die from bacteria, viruses, and particles in the air. The Associated Press has commissioned a 16-month study of Rio’s environment for Olympic events. The results are mind-boggling and horrific. The report says 1,400 athletes involved in water sports from canoeing to sailing to rowing had better not put their heads underwater because if they ingest just three teaspoons of bay water they are almost certain to be infected and fall ill from viruses that can cause stomach respiratory illnesses, and worst of all, heart and brain inflammation. Some of the waters used by water sports have virus levels at up to 1.7 million times the allowed maximum levels in American and European waters. Rowers are bleaching oars and wearing plastic suits and gloves to prevent contact with the water. Testing over a period of 16 months shows that 90% of the sites have heavy infectious adenovirus readings. Even the beaches are heavily polluted and show high levels of viruses. The sites for rowing and sailing contain 1.73 billion adenoviruses per liter of water. California beaches are closed when readings hit in the thousands per liter.
There is so much raw sewage dumped in the waters around Rio from over 12 million residents that the dangers of getting cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid, gastroenteritis, and dysentery are very high. Some of the city’s famous tourist beaches consistently exceed California standards five times over—and Rio’s own standards. If one is a lifelong resident of Rio he probably has assumed some immunity from being exposed at an early age from all sorts of weird dangerous bugs, bacteria, and viruses.
Neither does Brazil meet the standards of the World Health Organization for air quality. It promised it would meet the WHO standards when it made the bid for the games. About 5,400 Rio residents die each year from air pollution. Even one of its own, Pathologist Paulo Saldiva of the University of Sao Paulo, who was a member of the WHO committee that sets air standards, made this statement about water and air pollution in Rio: A lot of attention has been paid to Rio’s water pollution, but far more people die because of air pollution than the water. You are not obligated to drink water from Guanabara Bay but you must breathe Rio’s air.” Bringing your own air so you can enjoy the Olympics is difficult. Well, OK. Have a good trip!
Let’s Clear The Water And Air About The Progress The World Is Making In Some Areas
There is some evidence the world is making progress toward having less discrimination against fellow human beings even if major religious organizations such as the Roman Catholic Vatican, the Southern Baptists, the Falwells, and the Grahams continue to spout their medieval nonsense about inferior races and “intrinsically evil” homosexuals. If they don’t change their religious philosophy they will continue to lose constituents. Even the Tennessee snake handlers are dying out—even if they are not bitten in the neck by a rattler.
The warp-speed acceptance of at least 40 different levels of homosexuality is absolutely astounding. Just 35 years ago when tennis star Martina Navratilova made her announcement she was gay she said she was met with this universal reaction: “I was a pervert, I was an outlier. I was the person you didn’t even speak to your children about, in fear of them being like me.” She would go on to play in the Wimbledon final every year between 1982 and 1990. During that time she was good enough to spend 332 weeks as the top-ranked female tennis player in the world. During this period she was never met with cheers and applause. The minute she came on the court she heard booing, whistling, and crude remarks from those highly trained “theologians” in the stands. This scene has changed dramatically over the last decade. After the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Martina married her long-time Russian girl friend in 2014 in a very lavish wedding ceremony in New York City. Through tears, Marina said: “I did realize how different it would feel, but it definitely does. I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore, nobody can attack us, they have nothing on us. We are just as important or legally protected as the straight couple next door.” But we still have “Christian” mobs like the Christian Identity Church that holds that blacks and other races are inferior and were created to be servants for whites.
The United States Navy has changed a lot since I was a Marine officer aboard a Navy ship about sixty years ago. When all the Navy and Marine officers were served meals in the officers’ wardroom, we were served by black enlisted allowed in the Navy for that very purpose. These were Jim Crow days before any civil rights legislation. On this particular ship we had about 2,000 Navy and Marine personnel. Using stats that are true today, we could figure that between 100-200 gay sailors and Marines, both officers and enlisted, were aboard the ship. But no one told. No one talked. No one was “outed” that I know of.
I was surprised the other day when the Navy announced it was naming a new oil tanker currently being built after Harvey Milk who served on the USS Kittiwake from 1951 t0 1955 during the Korean War, and was later honorably discharged as a lieutenant junior grade. Harvey was the first openly gay person to hold elected office in California on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was assassinated in the city hall along with the San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by a former supervisor on November 27, 1978. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy lasted until 2011 and transgenders could start serving openly only last month. He was killed when he was 48 and did not become very active in civic affairs until he was 40.
Harvey was a Republican until 1972, but changed to the Democratic Party when he moved to the Castro District and Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. He ran three times for office before being elected to the Board of Supervisors. Although he had such a short career in politics, he campaigned with gusto and was a popular politician and became an icon and a martyr in the San Francisco and California gay community. In 2002 Milk was described as “the most famous and most significantly open LGBT official ever elected in the United States.” Now we have gay members in Congress.
The times they are a-changin’.