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The Injustice Of Political Ploys At The Olympic Games

1710 words - 7 pages

The Summer and Winter Olympic Games alike provide an opportunity for countries to display their athletic prowess and national strengths. However, these competitions are often tainted with the corrupt seeds of politics. A wide variety of dangerous and damaging political power plays make an appearance in each Olympic gathering. In the beginning the Games were designed to be a truce period, but they are beginning to lose this component. Also, in every Games since the beginning of the modern Olympics, there has been some form of political activity present. Granted, the Olympics can be used to repair international relations through global partnerships; however, this should be the only instance ...view middle of the document...

This opportunity is one that is unlike any other in the world. Sports provide a whole new depth of understanding between people and countries that provides for a growth in international relations as well as to serve as a reminder that everyone from each country is human and holds many similar values dear. It is simple to see how the Olympics could be a valuable political tool, and in a sense the Games should be used this way; however, the Olympics should never be used as a pawn in negative situations. Meaning that it is valuable to use the Olympics to improve international relations and promote universal cooperation, but the Games should not be used in any way that could potentially damage the athletes as this is not what their original purpose was designed to be.
Since their origin the Olympic Games have been slowly evolving to include a larger variety of political action. In the early years of the Modern Olympic Games the focus was more on the athletes and on promoting culture and these Games were much more in touch with the original purpose of the Olympics. The first Games where politics were a large, central issue were the 1936 Games in Berlin, Germany. In these so called “Nazi Games” Adolf Hitler sought to use propaganda to promote the strengths of the “ideal Aryan specimen” and to promote the strength of his new Third Reich. A great deal of propaganda was used to conceal the horrific cases of genocide occurring in Germany from the rest of the world as well. Hitler’s initial efforts were foiled by Jesse Owens winning five gold medals and proved that one does not need to be Aryan to be the most athletically talented. (Goldberg 64) Individual prejudices and racial tensions were also exhibited in these Games when Adolf Hitler refused to shake Jesse Owens’s hand saying, “Do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?” (Hilton) From this point in history on the Olympics began to grow and evolve into a much more politically centered event. The Olympic Games increasingly became a stage for political moves with each passing Olympiad. No matter what the political conflict, whether it is foreign or domestic, some form of it has been displayed at an Olympic Games. An example of domestic politics occurred at the 1968 Mexico City Games when the African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black gloved fists in support of the Civil Rights movement occurring in the United States. (Goldberg 64) This simple gesture spoke volumes on both a social and political level. International rivalries and conflicts stemming from ethnic, religious, or political differences have all made an appearance on the world stage as well. Although it is not entirely based in politics, the Olympics have also evolved into a highly commercialized affair over the years. A majority of the athletes are no longer amateurs, especially in the high ticket sports such as hockey and basketball, meaning that the athletes...

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