Few events have been more politicized than the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. New cold warriors and atrocity propagandists led by the United States did everything in their power to generate popular support for a full boycott of the Games. NED-backed organizations formed a coalition for the cause, the corporate media engaged in a full-scale “China bad” propaganda blitz, and the political establishment got busy crafting several pieces of legislation to respond to the so-called “China threat.” Their efforts failed. To save face, the U.S. implemented a non-consequential “diplomatic boycott” that found support from only a handful of junior partners in the West. However, failure didn’t put an end to the U.S.-led information war at the heart of the boycott campaign.
On February 4, the 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open in Beijing. With this, the Chinese capital will become the first city to have hosted both the Summer and Winter Games. It will also make the People’s Republic of China the first country in the Global South ever to host the Winter Olympics, which have historically been dominated by Europe and North America (home to the top 14 countries in the all-time medal table). China remains the only Asian host nation in history besides Japan and South Korea. These milestones have gone almost entirely unremarked-upon in Western media coverage leading up to the Games, which instead paints China as a uniquely “authoritarian” and therefore undeserving host.
The diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games may go down in history as the official start of the cold war between the U.S., a handful of its allies and China. The American strategy, however, of using boycotts to pressure Beijing in the name of ‘human rights’, may prove costly in the future. On Dec. 6, Washington declared that it would not send any diplomatic representation to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. In subsequent days, the U.K., Canada and Australia followed suit. The official American line claims that U.S. diplomats will not participate in the event in protest of the “human rights abuses … in Xinjiang.” That claim can easily be refuted by simply recalling that the U.S. has taken part in the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics.
On Monday, the current U.S Joe Biden administration confirmed it would not be sending any government officials to the Beijing Olympics. In response, the Chinese Foreign Minister declared the move a statement of ideological prejudice. Jen Psaki, Press Secretary for the White House alleged as the reason for this diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics, supposed crimes against humanity committed by Chinese authorities and abuses of human rights.
Just three months into 2021, police officers wearing riot gear descended on an encampment of houseless people in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, forcing residents out in a sweep that went viral on social media. For Los Angeles-based activist Gigi Droesch, the videos were reminiscent of a park sweep that took place in 2015 on the other side of the world — in Tokyo. “When I was looking at the footage from the Tokyo sweep, it looked really similar to our own footage,” Droesch said. “The way the police were hassling residents — it was the same sort of thing. There were people who were unhoused in this park, and the police came and violently swept them away.” While some might think it’s a big jump to go from Los Angeles to Tokyo, it was a natural conclusion for Droesch, who has spent the past several years involved in an international movement to end the Olympics and the displacement, policing and militarization that the games bring to hosting cities.
We need a Workers’ Olympics as an alternative to the bourgeois Olympics! This might sound like an empty slogan, but the International Workers’ Olympiads took place from 1921 to 1937. The workers’ movement had always organized its own sports competitions. The Workers’ Olympiads let workers from all over the world exercise and compete together. Participants did not march under national flags — instead, everyone used the same red flag as the universal banner of labor.
Germany’s women’s Olympic gymnastic team will wear unitards at the Tokyo 2020 games in protest against the “sexualisation” of the sport. The team will wear full-body outfits that cover their legs from hip to ankle. This is an obvious difference from the traditional leotard which usually leaves the entire leg and hip exposed on the female gymnasts. The unitard, although breaking from conventions, doesn’t defy the rules of the competition.
Ten thousand people. That’s how many Olympic volunteers quit their posts in Tokyo, with the games just 50 days away. That is one of every eight volunteers needed to pull off the 2021 (still called the 2020) Olympics. This is just the latest warning sign that, despite the Panglossian protestations of the International Olympic Committee, this summer’s Games are in peril. Japan is currently wrestling with a coronavirus upsurge and less than 3 percent of the population is vaccinated. According to polls, as much as 80 percent of the country does not want to host the games, for fear of it exacerbating this omnipresent public health crisis, currently classified as a state of emergency. The masses of Tokyo want to postpone or cancel the games, but the government says it’s the IOC’s decision, not the host country’s, sovereignty be damned.
The decision came amid calls to relax rule 50.2 of the Olympic Charter, which states: "No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas." The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had promised to review the rule after the Black Lives Matter movement gained global support.
Miwako Sakauchi stands in her studio and brushes spinning swirls on torn cardboard and drawing paper, using the five colors designated as symbols of the modern Olympiad. Titled ‘Vortex’, her paintings show the “anger, fear, sense of contradiction and state violence” over the residents evicted and the trees felled so enormous Olympic stadiums could be built, Sakauchi said. “I can’t think of it as a ‘festival of peace’ in this situation. It’s totally nonsensical.” The Japanese public mostly opposes holding the Tokyo Olympics next month during a pandemic, polls have shown, even though outward dissent such as protests has been small. One little-recognized outlet where people have expressed their frustration and fear over the Olympics has been art.
Sometimes, art can point to answers that the stuffy logic of policy wonks cannot. Those who have truly felt, even for a passing moment, the pain of seventy years of artificial national division, probably felt a stir in the pit of their hearts at seeing the ninety-year old North Korean statesman’s rare display of emotion. The sense of excitement at the fleeting inter-Korean reunion, followed by pain and sorrow at not knowing when or if the two Koreas will ever meet again, is shared by Koreans on all sides of the division. And therein may be the answer to the perpetual and seemingly unresolvable conflict on the Korean peninsula. That shared sense of longing for reunification will ultimately prevail over threats of maximum pressure and a “bloody nose strike.”
Leo Chang — a scholar based in Amherst, Massachusetts, and a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea — hopes the inter-Korean cooperation will lead to peaceful reunification and self-determination: As a Korean-American who witnessed the horrors of the Korean War as a child, I am deeply hopeful that a successful Peace Olympics will facilitate the path to a new Sunshine Policy under the emerging international political milieu. And this new Sunshine Policy will bring about a peaceful accommodation, reconciliation, and reunification of the Korean peninsula as determined by Koreans themselves. The Sunshine Policy during the South Korean presidencies of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun had not only helped to set the stage for engagement with North Korea but also facilitated cross-border people-to-people exchanges for inter-Korean cooperation from the ground up.
Vice President Mike Pence went to South Korea and missed the opportunity for further peace on the Olympic peninsula. The historic opening created by North and South Korea at the Olympics was an opportunity but Pence played the situation like a childish teenager. At a dinner dinner reception Pence went around the table and shook hands with everyone except the diplomat from North Korea. At the stadium Pence sat one row in front of the North Korean of the sister of President Kim Jong Un's sister. While Kim Jong Yo was so close to her he never even tried to speak to her. Anotger missed opportunty for peace. At the same moment, South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with Kim Yo Jong, creating a historic moment and a photograph that gave hopes to many for peace between North and South Korea and movement toward unification and an end of hostilities.
On January 9, high-level officials from North and South Korea met to discuss the North’s participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February. The inter-Korean meeting was held in the village of Panmunjom at the border of the divided Korean Peninsula. On January 1, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed hope for reconciliation with South Korea in his New Year address. The next day, South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed high-level talks with North Korea ahead of the Olympics. Ri Son-gwon of North Korea and Cho Myong-gyon of South Korea — the lead representatives of their respective states’ reunification committees — led the talks. The two sides came to an agreement about North Korea’s delegation to the Pyeongchang Olympics.
By Allen Barra for Truth Dig - C. Robert “Bob” Paul Jr. was one of the most interesting sports figures you probably never heard of. He was born in 1918 and died near his home on Long Island in 2011. For much of his life, he was a publicist, first for his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and later for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). In an obit for Paul released by the USOC, longtime spokesman Mike Moran wrote: “With his death goes an important cornerstone of a long ago USOC and its remarkable history.” Mr. Moran was right. There was a book in Paul, and it’s a terrible shame that he never got around to writing it.