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The Olympics are good for a lot of things — entertainment, global unity, fanatic patriotism — but there’s also a part of the event that’s hard to miss: the politics.
This can be outward, such as when countries refuse to participate because of where the games are hosted. One of the most notable examples of this is probably still the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where an extensive list of more than 50 countries didn’t show. Boycotts almost seem so common that an Olympics without any at all is a rarity.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to incorporate politics and still participate.
In the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute after winning gold and bronze, respectively, in the 200 meter race. While their true intent has been debated (Smith claimed it was a human rights salute in his autobiography Silent Gesture), that doesn’t change the fact that both athletes were expelled from the Olympics for taking a stand.
Not all political demonstrations are by foreigners, though. What about this year’s tribute to healthcare during the Opening Ceremony? This was a little more veiled, but come on — with all the healthcare controversy happening here in the U.S., you can’t tell me that nobody who had a hand in planning the ceremony was politically minded.
The only argument against this tribute as a political move that I would accept is the fact that the entire ceremony was grievously random, anyway. To be frank, when Voldemort was defeated by a fleet of umbrella-toting Mary Poppins (Poppinses?), I had to tune out.
My point is, this celebration of international unity is supposed to be apolitical, but in reality it is anything but.
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