reality-disconnect, Brazilian authorities are trying to maintain a
«politically correct» image during the Rio Olympics, while the
entire games are imbued with nasty Cold War politics.
«politically correct» we mean the apparent absence of politics. But
that absence is partial, unilateral and false, and the forced measure
is itself a very political act.
The Brazilian Olympics
organizers are claiming that it is against the charter of the
International Olympics Committee to allow any form of political
expression within the sporting venues. And so, they claim, in the
interest of public decorum and decency, the Olympics venues must be
kept «politics free» in order to not discommode other spectators or
global television audiences.
Hence, sports fans have
been reportedly bounced
out of stadiums by burly police squads at the slightest hint of
Brazilian spectators have been ordered to leave venues for daring to
shout out «fora Temer» – a Portuguese reference to
interim president Michel Temer, demanding that he quit office.
Fans have even been
expelled for silently holding up written posters bearing the same
words. Or, ingeniously, sitting in a row with T-shirts spelling out
the individual letters of the protest slogan.
But hold on a
minute. The entire 2016 games in Rio are being held amid a
spectacular backdrop of sinister politics.
president Dilma Rousseff was suspended from office back in May after
rightwing parliamentary opponents accused her of illegal accounting
practices. She denies the allegations, saying that the budgetary
measures she took were legal, and that she is being forced from
office illegally, which in turn disenfranchises more than 54 million
voters. In the opening week of the games, the Brazilian
Senate voted to
press ahead with Rousseff’s impeachment.
Workers Party supporters claim that she has been ousted by a
parliamentary coup. Michel Temer, the rightwing coalition vice
president, has since assumed her office as the country’s acting
president. Temer is accused of orchestrating the de facto putsch. He
is also closely aligned with Washington’s anti-leftist agenda in
Latin America targeting Venezuela, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua and
Cuba, among others.
During the opening
Olympic ceremony, Temer was roundly booed by Brazilians and appeared
to cut his speech short.
Ahead of the
opening, the Olympic torch parade was disrupted by angry street
protests, with crowds complaining about the high cost of holding the
games amid economic hardship for millions of Brazilians. The Rio
games are estimated to cost $13 billion. Riot police fired rubber
bullets and teargas to disperse protesters and get the Olympic torch
into the stadium.
Low ticket sales indicate
that for most Brazilians, the Rio games are off-limits, with the
price of individual tickets ($100-350) being equivalent to half a
month’s salary for many Brazilian workers.
absurd disconnect of sporting extravagance and growing economic
hardship for the population combined with the wide perception that
Temer and his rightwing supporters have usurped an elected president,
it is little wonder that Brazilians have much to protest about. And
it is especially galling that the alleged usurpers of state power are
now invoking political correctness and the «spirit of the games» to
suppress any form of dissent – in the name of «keeping politics
out of sport».
Supporters of Rousseff
are saying, with good reason, that the democratic right to peacefully
protest is simply being crushed under the cover of supposed Olympian
absurdity is underscored by the bigger political backdrop of the
games being held hostage by a renewed and contrived Cold War agenda
The banning of some 100
Russian athletes from participating in the games over allegations of
doping has the suspicion of politics being very much injected into
the world’s biggest sporting event.
Russia was allowed at the
last minute to send a national team after the International Olympic
Committee ruled that allegations against individual athletes did not
justify a collective ban. But the allegations themselves were
controversial, being based on Western media reports and the
Western-dominated World Anti-Doping Agency. The latter parlayed much
of its claims on those of Russian so-called whistleblowers, who may
or may not have been seeking personal rewards.
tendentious contention leveled by WADA, and taken up by Western media
with gusto, is that alleged Russian doping is
Russian authorities were not consulted nor given a fair hearing to
rebut the claims. The claims were merely made into an article of
faith and driven by a Western political agenda of isolating Russia,
as in several other areas of international relations over the past
two years, including the downing of a Malaysian civilian airliner
over eastern Ukraine in July 2014. No-one knows the cause of that
tragedy, but Western media have sought to blame it on Russia without
any evidence, as they have with regard to «state-sponsored doping»
Olympics are thus being conducted in a toxic atmosphere of
geopolitics redolent of the old Cold War between the West and the
Vladimir Salnikov, a
former Russian Olympic swimming star, in an interview with
the Reuters news agency said that the Rio games are
reminiscent of the Cold War years in the 1980s when the US and Soviet
Union boycotted each other’s events.
«I think the atmosphere
is very strange,» said Salnikov, who is in Rio as president of
the Russian Swimming Federation.
Salnikov, who won four
golds during the 1980s, said it was regrettable that Russian athletes
are receiving such a hostile attitude from some spectators and fellow
competitors on the basis of the doping allegations.
In particular, he
referred to nasty public comments made by the American swimmer, Lilly
King, who won the gold this week in the women’s 100-meter
breaststroke. King said that her Russian rival, Yulia Efimova, who
came second to win silver, should not have been even allowed to
participate because she had been previously banned for taking
performance enhancing drugs. Efimova was since cleared and reinstated
by the international Court of Arbitration for Sports to take part in
has been through a very severe ordeal, and in an atmosphere of
distrust and uncertainty I think she showed very strong character –
resilience and focus – and so I think she deserved her medal. She
has come through very tough times and I’m sure she will cope».
Apparently, the Russian
female swimmer was not able to sleep for two weeks before the
Olympics due to the stress caused by the doping scandal.
Presumably, the entire
Russian delegation of 270 other athletes – 70 per cent of the full
team, the smallest in decades – have likewise been affected by the
political cloud that has been imposed over their performance at Rio –
in what should be the pinnacle of their sporting careers.
The point is
that Russia has been unfairly demonized through doping allegations
that have been whipped up on dubious grounds by Western media serving
a geopolitical agenda – the same tawdry agenda that has been
deployed over Ukraine, Syria, European security, trade sanctions, and
Olympics have thus been turned into an anti-Russian morality play
whose purpose is a base politicized objective
suppression of legitimate Brazilian protests against an
unconstitutional would-be imposter-president – in the name of
«keeping politics out of sports» – is absurdly conducted amidst
an international spectacle of subverting the very same Olympic games
into a Russia-bashing event.
and circuses of ancient Rome, we are expected to believe that the
«great and good» are nobly entertaining the masses with sporting
fun – with an event that has been thoroughly contaminated by toxic