The Olympics Games are, in fact, the greatest games on earth. The success of the London 2012 Summer Olympic games is based partially in the potential achievement of human kind’s physical prowess. It is also heavily connected to the Games’ achievement of capitalist greatness, an aspect which has the potential to turn off left leaning fans from the event as a whole. But deep within the sporting events, television deals and multimillion dollar sponsorships, the Olympic Games shows us the power of a single event to appease the entire political spectrum.
Counter Olympic movements do exist. Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid was marred by “demonstrations against the corporate Olympics.” Vancouver’s Winter Olympics was surrounded slogans such as “Homes not Games” and “No Games on Stolen Land.” The “Boycott London 2012” bases itself in an anti-Nato, anti-imperialist sentiment. The common ground of all these criticisms is straight forward enough. The Olympic games represent the interest of big business. They are highlighted by a trend to create unnecessary infrastructure and development. This can lead to a terribly risky potential for the host city to fail to realize any profit. This represents a financial endeavor that exists against the true will and true necessities of the people. The common trait between all these movements is that they have been founded by and are populated by left leaning individuals.
However, there is no need to wrestle down any marathon runners, or throw yourself in front of a speeding rowing team. The Olympic games offers opportunities for all leftists to rejoice. The first of these reasons surrounds the potential for nations to reverse the international hierarchy. The second surrounds the sense of community that can be created around a national identity. In fact, the Olympic games even gives hardline communists reason for celebration, through the historical success of communist nations at the Olympics.
It is no doubt which “Greatest Nation on Earth” will statistically win each Olympics. In fact, there is not much debate in what countries will place in the top standings. While these results might reflect historically imperial nations, countries limited by colonialism and limited in economic development can still strive for greatness. Every Olympic event allows for the potential reversion of international hierarchies. Even in Canada, it is impossible to deny the fervor that develops surrounding a victory in a single hockey game against the culturally influential United States. Imagine, then ,the sentiment of a small African nation that can beat one of the world’s wealthiest on a track, in the water, or on a pitch. Such an event throws off historical dominance, something which can limit economics and development, but cannot limit the potential of the human body.
The second reason to embrace the Olympics is based in the celebration of a single national identity. True Marxism may call for revolutionaries to go beyond nationalism, and create a global identity. However, during the Olympics, nationalism allows for the creation of a single population, all with the similar hope of seeing their nation’s flag raised at the medal ceremony, of hearing their national anthem and of celebrating the achievement of their athletes. People don’t watch the Olympics to witness the multi-million dollar profits of companies, they watch the Olympics to witness the achievements of an active human. The only relationship that most viewers can find with an athlete is through the color of a uniform. This same relationship can exist through entire populations, regardless of geographical limits.
Finally, the Olympics has given historical proof of the potential of non-capitalism states to counter capitalist nations. This should please even the most ardent Communists.The Soviet Union proved their power by placing in the top two at every summer and winter Olympics their athletes participated in. More recently, it has become impossible to deny China as a contender in almost every sport. The unique trend here shows us that the human potential to succeed is not limited by economics, but instead can flourish in any environment.
The Olympic games will always showcase capitalist traits. There is no doubt that the Olympics provides adequate argument in support of either competition amongst equals, the opportunity of reward, or the benefits of self-discipline and cooperation. However, within the Olympics, there hides the potential for an inversion of these values, an inversion based in the historical trends evident in the Olympics, and the basic values the Olympics promotes. Such things cannot be limited by finances, by sponsorship, or by capitalist values. The Olympics show us phenomenons that exist regardless of social structure or economic system. Because of this, the Olympics fuels all sides of the political spectrum.