The Olympics are not what they seem

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By Jacqueline Kennelly
August 4, 2016

As all eyes turn to Rio in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympics, those of us who have even the smallest inkling of the negative impact of the Games on host city residents can only shudder.

In light of the typical parade of maudlin media tributes to athletic prowess and Olympic success, it is refreshing to read Jules Boykoff's brisk and powerful account of political resistance to the Olympic behemoth, past and present, Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics.

Spanning from the start of the modern Olympics in 1896 to pre-Games resistance in Rio, this book provides a much-needed antidote to the recurrent and nauseating claim by the International Olympic Committee that the Olympics are not political. Because the Games are political, and always have been.

If you have young children, as I do, you probably share in the experience of watching them be bombarded by pro-Olympic propoganda every two years at their preschool and school. Nary a mention is made in all of this "Olympic education" of the speckled political past and present of this footloose sporting and cultural event.

This is unfortunate. I would like my daughter to know that the founder of the Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, was vehemently opposed to women's participation in the Games. I would also like her to know about the alternative Women's Olympics that was started in 1922 by female athletes frustrated by their exclusion from the male dominated Games.

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