Politics and Olympics seem to go hand in hand. In Ancient Greece, a truce was announced before and during each of the Olympic festivals, to allow visitors to travel safely to Olympia. During the truce, wars were suspended, armies were prohibited from entering Elis or threatening the Games, and legal disputes and the carrying out of death penalties were forbidden. But politics did inevitably play a role--political alliances were announced, games were declared invalid if a hosting country was out of favor, and exiles were pardoned.
In 1936, Hitler's Berlin games were possibly the lowest point in our history. In Germany, Jews, Gypsies and other "undesirables" were not even allowed to compete. On the flip side, the 1968 Mexico City Olympics gave black athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos (the gold and bronze medalists), a platform to demonstrate civil rights awareness by raising the black-gloved fist as the Star Spangled Banner was played.
This year is no exception and already it seems like we are starting off on on a sour note. Take our host China--in addition to the pollution, human rights violations, and overall bad vibes, they are now censoring the games for the rest of the world. China promised the International Olympics Committee that they would provide the media with the same freedom to report on the Games as they enjoyed at previous Olympics. However, today we find out that the IOC has brokered a deal with the Chinese government, which would allow Internet censorship.
We also have a little country called Iraq, who up until today was banned by the IOC from participating in the Olympics after the country’s government disbanded the committee and appointed a government official as its new leader. The IOC requires national committees to be elected and autonomous. But on the bright side, it looks like some of their athletes will be able to indeed compete.
"I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on website access during Games time," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers.
"I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related," he said.
Attempts at the main press centre to access the website of Amnesty International, which released a report on Monday slamming China for failing to honor its Olympic human rights pledges, continued to prove fruitless by mid-week.
[Their banning] led to widespread criticism of both the Iraqi government and the I.O.C. On Tuesday at I.O.C. headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, a compromise was reached. Iraq agreed to hold elections for its Olympic committee before the end of November. In the meantime, Iraq will have an interim committee approved by the I.O.C.We look forward to putting politics aside and seeing sprinter Dana Hussein Abdul-Razzaq and discus thrower Haidar Nasir, compete for their country.