First, an apology – it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted. Not that I haven’t been writing – it’s easy enough to start a post daily, writing well over a thousand words before I run out of evidence and insights, without any hope of concluding my thoughts on any of them. The last month has seen some of the worst writer’s block I’ve experienced in years, which no pot of coffee or long night’s sleep could dislodge. In response, I’ve traveled a few thousand kilometres, back to familiar but distant parts, in the hopes of clearing my head and lungs. If you’re reading this, it worked. If you’re not, I probably got distracted sightseeing… Also, apologies for the lack of links/citations, as the tiny ancient laptop I’m currently using can’t deal well with multiple browser tabs.

I’m coming to you, today from Vancouver, the site of the last Olympics. I haven’t been here since around the time of the Beijing games, but even years before that, the changes this city would see were becoming obvious. Like all cities which experience this transformation, Vancouver saw an explosion of infrastructure spending, development and social cleansing. Beijing saw the same thing on a far larger scale, transforming their city with the most expensive Olympic production in history and a transformation of the city which would be possible only in a totalitarian regime. London, I’m told, is now experiencing the largest military buildup since the Blitz, complete with anti-aircraft missile batteries on apartment complexes, should the Luftwaffe try anything.

I mention the Third Reich only half-jokingly here, as the tradition of big-budget game spectacles traces right back to Berlin in 1936, when an initially skeptical Hitler decided to take the opportunity to introduce the world to the wonders of his regime. In the years since, the Olympics have garnered an impressive though little-known list of atrocities, including massive forcible dislocations and outright massacres. Between Seoul and Beijing, it’s been estimated that two million lost their homes. Today, Beijing’s infamous “Birdsnest” stadium sits empty, crumbling and mostly unused. As far as Vancouer goes, I know of only one person who died as a result of opposing games-related development, – Harriet Nahanee, who happened to be a friend of mine. A long-time First-Nations activist and grandmother, she died of a heart attack just after her release from a stint in jail, following attempts to block expansion of the “Sea to Sky Highway” from Vancouer to Whistler. I’ll never forget Harriet, nor will I ever forget what it actually takes to transform a region into a sporting venue for two weeks.

After the tumultuous year we’ve had, there’s one Olympic tale which seems especially pertinent. In 1968, the last time the globe saw this kind of widespread student unrest, Mexico City found itself eagerly preparing to host the Games, but also facing a large student movement not unlike what Quebec is witnessing. As the opening ceremonies approached, city officials sought to stamp it out with overwhelming force. Police and military forces, including those from the “Olympia Batalion” formed specifically for the games, surrounded Plaza de las Tres Culturas where thousands were gathered and opened fire, now known as the “Tlateloco Massacre”. Though casualty counts are still debated, those injured ranged into the hundreds and dozens, at least, were killed. At the time authorities blamed protesters for “provoking” the massacre, classified documents released since have shown this to be utterly dishonest.

Fuck the Olympics. Fuck the IOC. Fuck nationalism, elitism, corruption, which have continually been shown to be the real puropose of these spectacles. Fuck big, multi-billion dollar megaprojects constructed with public funds for two-week events. Fuck the totalitarians and tyrants who use these games to showcase their regimes. And fuck the global network of corporate sponsors like Coca-cola who use elite athletics to promote their anti-health products while threatening to sue anybody else wishing to use the word or five-ringed symbol. I am not against sports or athletics, but seriously, fuck anybody who thinks they’re worth a massacre.

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