Sochi: Olympic movement failing again

Sochi Olympics Main Sponsors

A couple of months ago I committed the one thing you’re not supposed to do when you write about politics: I used the old Nazi comparison on the Sochi Olympics—as in this reminds me of the ’36 games.

Because it does… There was no way any western country had the jam… including Canada… And so our team is trundling off ready to play by Putin’s neofacist rules while we all sit by. Did anyone really think anything else would happen that would be better than ’36?

As described by the NYT then:

“Many American newspaper editors and anti-Nazi groups, led by Jeremiah Mahoney, president of the Amateur Athletic Union, were unwilling to be duped by Nazi Germany’s hollow pledges and lies regarding German Jewish athletes. But Avery Brundage maneuvered the Amateur Athletic Union to a close vote in favor of sending an American team to Berlin, and, in the end, Mahoney’s boycott effort failed.”

Turning back to the Russian Winter Olympics, a boycott seems like a non-starter, for both good and bad reasons.  And like the rest of you, I don’t have any more vodka to pour out.  So what now?

Not only does it look like Russia will get away with staging a Potemkin Village Games that hides the terror of its anti-LGBT laws behind two weeks of winter fun and tourism promotion, it shows the lack of coherent options for protest in the face of the power of the Olympic movement.

But surely there are some answers rolling around in the mass of sponsorships, human rights, media cartels and reportage and state representation?  Surely, there is something effective that can be done to shine a light on this new emerging fascist state?

That effort failed in 1936.  It shouldn’t be allowed to fail this time.


It’s been a long time since I’ve posted (I would say sorry, but my family tells me I’ve used my allotted sorries for the hour). As many of you know, my condition has been declining steadily these past few months. I will post a longer update on my health soon. In the meantime, thank you all once again for the many well wishes. They really keep me going, and I hope to give you a few more posts yet.

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12 Responses to Sochi: Olympic movement failing again

  1. Kim says:

    The best thought I can manage is to boycott the Games and the sponsors and the media for that period. Maybe concentrate on the Federal Budget?

    (Don’t be sorry, we…I…hope for many more posts from you)

  2. Lesli Boldt says:

    Thanks for this post, Ian. I should note that not everyone is heading to Sochi for winter holidays…today, Vancouver City Councillor Tim Stevenson boarded a plane with the intent of lobbying IOC officials on ensuring Pride Houses and explicit language around equality for LGBTQ people under Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter. Tim also noted yesterday that since the mayor of Sochi has apparently never met a gay person, he’d be happy to introduce himself, should he get the chance.

  3. e.a.f. says:

    Great to see your post. don’t say your sorry, no need to apologize. consider we are lucky you have written.

    C.B.C. ran a documentary on Passionate eye this past weekend, “Putin’s Games”. Its worth watching. At the end of the documentary it notes, the Russian government offered them $600K euros to not run it. They immediately took it to a documentary festival in Moscow. Its a very good documentary and funny, especially when they play the keystone cops type music. The Russians who made the documentary are to be commended for their bravery. You are to be commended for your position on the Games. The corporations you listed are more interested in profits than people and although there may not be a huge boycott of these companies, it makes me feel better to know who they are and not spend a nickel there.

    Take care of yourself. Happy to read you are still with us and still writing. You are a great example of courage.

  4. Shelley Wilson says:

    Think of you often Ian Wishing you and Paul every possible bit of luck, fortitude, peace, creative energy, love and joy the world has to offer in the days ahead. xoxoxo

  5. Alex says:

    Hi Ian. Thanks for yet another great post. Every one is a gift.

  6. Dan says:

    Grateful for the read, spot on as usual, and, as overused and inappropriately used as they are, the comparison to the ’36 games backdrop is valid. I shake my head whenever someone pipes up with drivel about the nobility of Olympic sport and the ideals it represents. The corporate logos tell the whole tale.
    Hope you have lots of time for family and a little for the odd post. I stop here pretty much every day, and I suspect that I’m part of a large herd of well-wishers.

  7. Stuart says:

    Last fall I attended the exhibition at the Holocaust Centre on the Nazi persecution of Homosexuals. There was also an exhibit about the 1936 Olympics and the emphasis on the purity of gendered activity. Since then I have been very struck by the similarities between the political backdrops of 2014 and 1936. I’m glad you have posted this and, like others, delighted to hear from you again.

  8. john's Aghast says:

    Ian, I too stop off every day looking for some good news, and dreading the day when I stop looking. I admire you so much for what you’re doing.
    Keep strong.

  9. Garth says:

    Hey E,
    The last thing you need to do is apologize. That you posted today is , in itself great news! looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days. Love you always


  10. Scotty on Denman says:

    Thank you, Ian Reid, for your post.
    Sochi is bizarre. Cost the most money, most police, most corruption, most dangerous…Putin’s doing his utmost to make it portray exactly what he wants Russians to see: him strutting like a little red rooster, inviting the world to show off the fatherland but at the same time being its heroic protector from that very same outside world. Does he care the rest of the world condemns and ridicules his preposterous homophobic, totalitarian statism? I rather think he cultivates a lot of phobias and propaganda for domestic consumption precisely from inevitable international condemnation of his repellant policies; he risks little at home: he can either play the defiant strongman in reaction against those nations which boycott or the well received international strongman photoshopped approvingly with dignitaries from nations that do attend. All done up on media he controls, the myth is familiar in Russia: bounded by a hostile world, this country, so great, so vast, it can be it’s own empire or even its own planet, is saved Putin playing the new-age Terrible guy. Why the insecurity? Russia’s a shadow of its former Soviet self; 2/3 of its income’s from fossil fuel export, selling price out of its control; ethnography’s changing fast as moribund Russians are subsumed by fecund minorities; rampant criminal mercantilism happily supplies cameras, cell phones, computers, satellite dishes and other stuff that counters total state control; and a rebellious Caucasus is kept down only barely, ready to reignite at the slightest let up—Russia’s much, much weaker today than Nazi Germany was in ’36, it’s not attacking Jews for windfall profit like the Nazi’s did, it barely keeps a hold of its own provinces, let alone invades its neighbours. But inasmuch as Putin persecutes innocent Russian citizens like gays and muslims, particularly olive-skinned women ( three of whom are said to be headed for Sochi with explosive body packs on right this very minute!) or, for that matter, anybody else in the name of plutocracy, he is every bit a fascist like the Nazis and there’s no need to apologize for stating that fact.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to boycott Sochi but keeping channels open and exposing Putin’s homophobia to the world’s condemnation is surely appreciated by a beset minority there. If some of these people are courageous enough to risk protesting their country’s inhumanity and, yes, its fascism, using the Games as their world stage, I hope they know what they’re getting into. The real channels these days are on the web, the relentless infiltration of which Putin is powerless to stop, the real lifelines to our Russian friends who need our encouragement and help.

    I shudder to think what kind of stagecraft Putin has in mind for all those 60,000 extras and their weapons—maybe some choreographed terrorist busting for domestic TV consumption— surely, I pray, nothing to do with a bunch of foreign athletes waving rainbow flags.


  11. raven says:

    Ian there is so much wrong with the World enabling this State circus.

    Change will come in increments, person to person, blog to blog, and via petitions informing consumers about the dark forces their dollars support.

    Witness the fall of Duck Dynasty, it also happened in increments, person to person, with stories (in unlikely places) like this:

  12. Kenn McLaren says:

    Thanks for the post Uncle Ian. Always good to read your wisdom. now about that vodka. see you soon. love Kenn

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