Monday, 4 June 2012

Why you should boycott the London 2012 Olympics

Sections in this mini-essay:
- Links relevant to Alex's talk
- Other links relevant to the Olympics
- My commentary on what the Olympics is/should be about

The official, and extensive, rules by LOCOG (the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games)

Links relevant to Alex’s talk:

The Cafe Olympic, required by LOCOG to change its name in order to ‘preserve the Olympic brand’
The ‘flaming torch breakfast baguette’, outlawed
Companies avoiding restricted terminology which references the Games
Tweeting and blogging about the games, by the competitors, is forbidden
London Olympics sponsors
Coca-Cola, McD’s, Cadbury, BMW, British Petroleum? Are these really in keeping with the healthy living necessary to become an Olympic athlete? I don’t think so, either
London 2012 food and drink regulations
LOCOG backed down for the Scottish flag
Regulations applying to ticket holders:
·  19.2.3
·  The following is a non-exhaustive list of restricted items which may not be taken into a Venue (LOCOG reserves the right to amend this list, generally, or in respect of any Venue or Session): food (save for baby food), alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (save for baby milk and other valid medical reasons), liquids in containers of greater than 100ml in size, needles (save as required for valid medical reasons), animals (save for assistance or guide dogs), weapons (including knives), illegal drugs, other illegal substances, fireworks, firecrackers, poles, flagpoles, sticks, large photographic equipment (including tripods), bats, large umbrellas and other blunt instruments, motorcycles, bicycles, roller-skates, skateboards, or other types of skates, electronic transmitting equipment, flags of countries not participating in the Games, large flags or banners, horns, whistles, drums, rattles, musical instruments, lasers or any other devices that in the opinion of LOCOG may disturb a Session, objects bearing trademarks or other kinds of promotional signs or messages (such as hats, T-shirts, bags, etc) which LOCOG believes are for promotional purposes, counterfeit products, balls, rackets, frisbees or similar objects, large quantities of coins, lighters, advertising or promotional material of any kind, printed matter bearing religious, political or offensive content or content contrary to public order and/or morality, bottles or containers made of glass or other material, flasks, thermoses, refrigerators, large objects such as suitcases or bags, and in general any material that LOCOG may deem dangerous or that may cause damage or disruption to a Session.
The “sordid” history of Dow Chemical
The MOD will have missile launchers on a Bow matchstick factory
The site that’s counting down to the Games, but isn’t allowed to say which:

The links that are probably illegal:

Other links:

London’s amazingly explicit surveillance state mascots for the London 2012 Olympics
The probably-illegal sonic weapon that will be used to threaten London residents during the games
“£600m will get 100,000 unemployed working for 6 months  £10bn spunked on the olympics wld do 1.5m ppl”
HMRC worries that many people employed during the games will be illegally employed, by gangmasters, at less than the national minimum wage
Can't use the phrase London 2012? Introducing Londinium MMXII
Derby University required to take a sign down
Brand apartheid within the ‘Olympic zone’

My commentary:

What is the Olympics (or what are the Olympics, if you prefer)?

A sporting event

Any particular kind of sporting event?

Well, it does have a historical origin in the principles of fairness and amateur enthusiasm for athletic excellence.
In fact, the Olympic Charter lays this out, for all to see:
"The mission of the IOC is [in]... upholding ethics in sports, encouraging participation in sports, ensuring the Olympic Games take place on a regular schedule, protecting the Olympic Movement, and encouraging and supporting the development of sport."
"The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries"

The principle of amateurism is why some disciplines were dropped. Arts events, for example

The Olympics is for amateur pursuits, which is why it's alright for track and field competitors, and even tennis players who have mints to their name, to compete, because they will only ever receive prize money, and are thereby still amateur.
Boxers can no longer compete in the Olympics when they turn professional, but footballers can play international football, play for top-division teams, and take home several grand per week in wages, but are still permitted to compete in the Games (as long as they haven't yet turned 23 years old, but i wouldn't put it past them to change this rule again).

I think you might have guessed, by now, that this commentary extends well beyond corporate corruption of the Games - exploitation of the brand so that they can make a mint - and includes the undermining of its amateur principles by including professionals (but only in particular events where powerful people with deep pockets have considerable influence over the Olympic Committee) [coughs]

Notice the second statement in quotes -- "not between countries" -- despite this, every country exploits the Games to further their nationalistic agenda. I'm alluding, not just to the opening ceremonies, where the athletes are paraded, not by discipline, but by country of affiliation. And i say "affiliation" quite deliberately -- some do not come from the countries which they represent, but the national Olympic bodies will claim them nevertheless. As a resident of the UK, i am familiar with foreign tennis players being claimed as 'our national representative' ... Greg Rusedski [coughs] (he's Canadian).
But, like i said, i'm alluding not just to that excoriating farce (which always involves firework displays, employing quantities of explosive that ought to make Homeland Security wince!), but also to the low-grade attempts to convince that come in the form of "Bob Jones (USA)". Why define them as a bit of the USA? 
Why define anyone that way? Athletes who attend the Games do so as amateur enthusiasts of the disciplines they compete in; nothing more, nothing less. They should not be claimed in such an underhand manner.

The three major ways in which the Olympics have been corrupted (and to its, the athletes' and our detriment, which is what really matters) are:

- Commercialisation
  -- event monopolies
  -- image rights
  -- controlled publicity
  -- permitting corporations to associate their brands, no matter how pernicious, with the Games
  -- evicting residents, and leaving them to face the awful, branded music
  -- displacing affordable housing with expensive apartments that nobody local could afford
  -- spending extortionate amounts that could have been spent on socially beneficial pursuits
  -- exploitation of one-off employees who are paid less than the National Minimum Wage
- Professionalisation
  -- including pro sportspeople, but only those from sports with influential backers
  -- making it more difficult for genuine amateur to compete in events, due to maintenance costs
  -- inspiring generations to come to only do sport if it pays - not because they actually care about it
- Nationalisation
  -- claiming all competitors' achievements as"the nation's"
  -- censoring areas of the host country that don't look nice (have poor people in them, like Whitechapel)
  -- using the events as an excuse to ramp up authoritarian control of the public

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