(CHICAGO) – Olympism is more about profiteering, exploitation and cynicism than sport.
For more than a century, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hypocritically advanced notions of peace, unity, friendship and sport the way it’s meant to be.
The Olympic Movement’s Charter states that the IOC’s mission “is to promote Olympism throughout the world and to lead the Olympic Movement.”
It’s “to encourage and support the organisation, development and coordination of sport
and sports competitions.”
It’s “to oppose any political or commercial abuse of sport and athletes.”
Overall, the Charter features a high-minded laundry list concealing Olympism reality. Truth and full disclosure belie deceptive hyperbole.
Helen Jefferson Lenskyj knows it well.
Lenskyj, University of Toronto professor of Sociology, has studied Olympism for years. Her book, “Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics and Activism”, exposes its dark side, exploitive culture, disturbing corruption, hidden costs and complicity of major media scoundrels.
Far from promoting good will, open competition and fair play, Olympism is more about profiteering, marginalizing the poor, other disenfranchised groups, affected communities, sticking taxpayers with the bill and providing nothing in return but hype and the illusion of amateur international sport at its best.
Resistance challenges the narrative. Activists expose its dark side, and so does Lenskyj. “Olympic construction and preparations,” she says, take “a heavy toll on already disadvantaged populations.”
Thousands are evicted and displaced “to make way for Olympic accommodation.” Disadvantaged residents are left high and dry. Cozy relationships among government officials, corporate sponsors, universities and IOC bosses facilitate exploiting communities, people and athletes for power and profit. Most of all “the bottom of the food chain” loses out.
Behind public friendliness and high-minded hyperbole lie profiteers, political intrigue, corruption, disregard for public needs and rights, exploitative practices and scandalous wheeling, dealing, collusion and bribery that turns sport into a commercial grab bag free-for-all.
Lenskyj’s “Olympic Industry Resistance: Challenging Olympic Power and Propaganda” tells more. She explains uncritical scoundrel media coverage, especially the unprincipled bidding process, host city preparations and promotional materials concealing Olympism reality.
Fundamental rights and freedoms are denied to ready venues for scheduled events, protests are criminalized, repressive tactics are used and abuse is commonplace and extreme. So is out-of-control corruption, exploitation and profiteering.
Corporate propaganda is exposed. So are educational materials designed to indoctrinate kids into the “Olympic family.” It’s to secure ready future audiences. Children are even used in promotional materials as goodwill bidding and hosting ambassadors. Power brokers spare nothing for self-aggradizement and big bucks.
Olympism is big business. The London summer games is billed as perhaps the city’s biggest ever spectacle. It’s expected to gross about 10 billion pounds (about $16 billion). Tourists are expected to spend another $3 billion or more.
Security will cost more than $2 billion. Total costs will top $30 billion. Brits, of course, will pay the tab. They get the bill, not the profits. This, in a city with nearly one-fourth of the population impoverished. In some areas, child poverty approaches 50 percent. Conditions are getting worse, not better.
Homelessness is increasing, kids are starving on streets. They’ll be swept out of sight before the games begin. Elitism, luxury and over-indulgence will be featured.
Protests will be dealt with harshly, with suppression being a priority. Encampment-type protests close to venues are banned and forcible removals are planned as power brokers and profiteers demand it. As do media scoundrels wanting viewers to see illusions, not reality.
Billions have been spent constructing venues, an 80,000 seat stadium, infrastructure, luxury hotels, other accommodations, Olympic Park, acquiring land and more. Nothing’s spared except peoples’ needs neglected to create London’s biggest ever extravaganza.
Ordinary Londoners won’t be celebrating. For them, bad news got worse. Public safety will be jeopardized, Olympic Park will be militarized and high Velocity Missiles will be installed.
Doing so is part of a massive security force mobilization for Olympic profiteers. More than 13,000 military troops will be deployed with another 12,000 police joining them. Capital gets special privileges. Ordinary people pay the price and suffer.
Before and during the games, police state authority will run things. “Total Policing” will be enforced. Nothing is spared for rich folks at the expense of ordinary Londoners.
English investigative journalist Andrew Jennings also knows Olympism truths. He reports on what power brokers want concealed. He says he’s “been chasing bad men around the world for more than three decades.”
He exposed former IOC president (1980 – 2001) Juan Antonio Samaranch as “an unrepentant jack-booting, right-arm waving Franco fascist.” His International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) corruption exposes got him banished from president Sepp Blatter press conferences.
Sports Illustrated called his book “The Lords of the Rings: Power, Money, and Drugs in the modern Olympics:” (published in America as “Dishonest Games”) one of the top sports books ever written. His sequel titled, “New Lords of the Rings” discusses “Olympic Corruption & How to Buy Gold Medals.”
His others include “The Great Olympic Swindle.” It exposes the Olympic/organized crime connection and how IOC bosses scammed people into believing corrupt practices were reformed.
It also revealed that secret documents showing the organization spent $2 million on PR propaganda and hype to portray a favorable image. Lipstick on this pig doesn’t wash.
He’s written about how IOC officials demand bidding cities provide everything from first-class plane tickets to luxury accommodations and prostitutes. His accounts are lurid and real. He’s called IOC’s most vocal critic. Approaching age 70, he’ll be missed when gone.
A January 2012 Play Fair Campaign (PFC) report called “Toying with Worker Rights” discusses sweatshop labor used to produce Olympic sponsor products.
“Olympic and Paralympic Merchandise is big business,” it explains. What’s good news for corporate profiteers and IOC officials is bad for exploited workers.
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), called the games “a powerful lever of change, improving lives across the world.” He wants London to leave “a blueprint for inspiring positive social, economic and environmental change.”
Hyperbole belies his practices. PFC research shows that little is done to curb “systematic exploitation of workers in the promotional goods industry.” Only profits matter, not worker rights or ethics.
Wage slaves work obligatory long hours, at times on 24-hour shifts. In violation of Chinese labor law, children under age 16 are employed abusively like adults. Factory conditions are deplorable. Unions are prohibited, worker rights are denied and anyone complaining is fined or fired.
LOCOG has done little to address exploitive practices. It relies on fraudulent audits. They sanitize what needs exposure, condemnation and change.
“Our research found that workers are coached, threatened, and even bribed to mislead auditors. One worker (said) many are afraid they would be sacked if they unveiled the truth.”
Ethical lip service belies commonplace abusive exploitation. PFC operates as “a worldwide alliance of trade unions, women’s rights groups, human rights activist groups, consumer organizations, and workers.”
It demands Olympic officials “ensure lofty Olympic principles of fairness and respect (to) workers producing goods for the Olympic family.” Research shows IOC fails on all counts.
According to Clean Clothes Campaign representative Dominique Muller, “A clear steer from International Olympic representatives needs to be given to all future games hosts, that Olympic exploitation is not acceptable. The IOC so far has been resisting any moves towards creating and monitoring fairer conditions for workers – this must end.”
Failure to effectively address these and other abuses exposes LOCOG complicity. All IOC host cities share guilt.
On July 27, when London Games begin, remember the dark side and tune them out. Even athletes and patriotism are exploited for a buck.
What you see isn’t what you get. Illusion substitutes for reality. IOC hypocrisy, corporate profiteering, political corruption and scoundrel media complicity are on display.
The best of what amateur athletics should be is absent. Walk away from what no one should support. Maybe one day legitimate games will replace today’s scam.
Maybe enough empty seats, poor TV ratings and red ink will assure it. For sports lovers, it’s worth waiting for.