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Sport against politics

Games from the very outset were a time of truce. It is worth to remember this...

07.02.2014 23:12 Alexei Bratchenko

Sport against politics

It is well known that in ancient Greece wars stopped during the Olympics. In the XX century, the exact opposite happened – due to two world wars three Olympics were canceled (1916, 1940, and 1944). Now there are no world wars but no one is going to interrupt local conflicts.

Moreover, sports are now completely inseparable from politics. Moreover, in a determinate sense, it has become a ‘war substitute’. The great powers’ battles for sporting success well replace these battles. To the maximum extent, it is applicable, again, to the Olympic Games, which can be compared with a short but super large-scale battle of all world powers at once.

During the Cold War the mutual hatred of the two opposing military-political alliances fully projected onto sports in general and the Olympics in particular. The parties took very seriously the number of medals won (especially if they are less than the enemy’s), and once they arranged to each other reciprocal boycotts. In 1980, in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the West boycotted the Games in Moscow. In 1984, socialist countries in turn refused to participate in the Games in Los Angeles.

After these bleak events, it was decided to prohibit boycotts once for all. The Cold War was over to boot, and sports seemed to have once again become simply sports.

Alas, international competition politics had not disappeared, which was repeatedly confirmed. In particular, currently the West has been launched a propaganda campaign against the Sochi Olympics completely identical to that during the Cold War. True, it hesitated to boycott.

The reason for such a fierce hatred for Russia where there is no longer communism is a very complicated issue. It is worth a separate discussion. However, it is very likely that the answer is already given by Olympic champion, Polish skier Justyna Kowalczyk. At the end of last year, she wrote in her blog:

“Yesterday I turned on the sports news. And I thought I was going to fall down. Or that I had a hallucination. I was just ashamed, that’s all.

This concerned, of course, Russia. The Games are approaching, and anyone who will take the trouble become experts. For human rights, environment, sports, finance, infrastructure. It is easy to obtain a visa. You can fly cheaply. You can also - without a single problem, as well as anywhere in the world – find wretched, unsatisfied people who are willing to tell you how bad they live. And a front-page story is ready. But it is also a fact that...

Our neighbors are doing everything they can to complete the construction of hotels and the Olympic Village. It is not easy. They work day and night... Everybody – from workers to organizers. I, myself being there last winter, could not recover from my astonishment when I saw and heard this work even at three a.m.. But this work, according to reports in the news, is the exploitation of man. In confirmation thereof, I heard a question to a worker, whether he was paid well. True, he answered affirmatively: “Yes, I am.” But perhaps because he was intimidated. Such was a comment.

For me, this story was one-sided manipulation. Nothing but another portion of hatred. I realize that it’s not all that colorful, and not only on the construction in Sochi, but also in Beijing, London and even Warsaw. That today with Olympic occasions the ideals are of least importance. That there are a percentage of people who will suffer, and nature will have no luck. But there will be Games that we all want perhaps. And if we want, it must be built.

Besides, I want to tell you one more thing. Russians are very similar to us. Maybe a little more nostalgic, less sober-minded. But they are decent, nice, sympathetic, hospitable, hardworking people. I know many of them. Let’s at long last put an end to this propaganda, with an army of stereotypes instead of arguments. Games from the very outset were a time of truce. It is worth remembering it, and leave that bile. "

And here is an opinion of Patrick Armstrong, a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow:

“In spite of the propagation fire constantly bombarding us, telling of previous, present and future failures of the Olympic Games in Sochi, I bet that they will be successful. In any case, when contests start we will have the opportunity to see who is right - the western media community or Russian authorities. I really wonder to what extent propaganda theses correspond to reality. After the propagandistic treatment people expect to see dilapidated, dirty hovels, broken, impassable roads, lack of snow, horrible toilets, poverty, persecution of homosexuals, and so on. The games will be on the air, and millions of viewers will watch them for hours. But besides the contests proper they will voluntarily or not see other sides of the Olympic reality. Then they will have the opportunity to compare the propaganda with reality, and they will realize that they have been told lies.”

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