Since the resurrection of the Olympic games in 1896, the games have slowly become compromised by politics and propaganda. The purity of the athleticism has been tarnished with scandal, corruption, commercialism, boycotts, political disputes, reputation promotion, as well as acts of terrorism. Mega sporting events such as the Olympics have the strange ability to not only momentarily unite national communities, but, conversely, mirror real world rivalries and conflicts (Grix).
Politics have often been pushed to the forefront of the Olympics, altering their meaning from purely athletic competition to political aims and moneymaking propaganda. Chapter five of the Olympic Charter states “No kind of demonstrations or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas (The Guardian).” However, as Allen Guttmann points out in his account of the history of the Olympics, the inception of the modern Olympic games in 1896 was very much political, due to the significant political and social impacts the Olympics have. At various times the in history of the modern Olympic games, politics have overshadowed the true focus of the games. The Olympics are supposed to represent the world coming together peacefully in the mutual enjoyment of universal sport. It is a chance for everyone to set aside all that we claim makes us different and come together as a human family to support something that is less divisive and a little more humane.
As early as the planning stages for future Olympic venues, often some 10 years out, politics are an integral part of bidding for, staging of, protesting against, reporting on, and even taking part in the Olympics (Grix). It is evident during that process that there are many reasons behind why countries want to host the Olympics. Similar to the World Cup, the Olympics are one of the most watched global sporting events, which creates a world stage consumed in media coverage.
Over the years, countries have viewed this as an opportunity to promote their own political ideals, enhance their image, and create new legacies. In 1936, this view first became obvious to all, and was followed by other Olympics in later years. During the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin, Germany, Hitler sought to use the Olympics to promote his political ideals. Thirty-six years later, Germany again hosted the Olympic games of 1972 in Munich. This was Germany’s attempt to enhance its image and remove itself from what happened in 1936. Later in the Olympics of 1980 in Moscow, a total of sixty-five countries boycotted the games due to political disagreements. The most recent (other than perhaps the plight of the Ukraine in Sochi) is the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. The 1984 Olympic games are said to be, in many ways, the most blatant. Through these examples, I will show how I believe politics have taken over the Olympics leading them to be used to promote political ideals, enhance national image, and create new legacies.