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Prompt 108: Political Boycotts
108. Boycotts took place at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics because of political issues between the Western world and communist countries. How would you feel if politics got in the way of your ability to play sports or participate in any other activity? Would you try to get around the boycott? Why or why not?
I'm not really a sports fan (I played enough in high school). Beyond that, I think I was too young to understand what political boycotts were at the time they're mentioned in this prompt. However, I can imagine if I was in a kind of world competition, if I were in league with others recognized as the "best in the world" in my particular field of expertise, if I had been groomed from a young age to be one of the best in a particular field, I'd be pissed. Whether it's sport, or chess, or the Worlds Fair or whatever, I'd make it known that I was unhappy with the government's decision.
Does that mean that I'd have a case? Not really. I mean, what's one person - or maybe close to a couple hundred, considering this would be the USA Olympic Team - versus the machinations of the US Government? I think the best I could do would be to "condemn the government's actions" as irresponsible, of tampering with the livelihoods of (a couple hundred of) its citizens, of damaging the reputation of the International Olympic Committee... Something like that.
The US Government would have a predictable response. It regrets the necessity of boycotting the international competition but it could not stand side by side with a foreign power participating in the games at the same time it is committing "international injustices."
So the 1980 boycott was a way for the US government to swing its dick on the world stage; the 1984 boycott was a direct retaliation to the previous politically-motivated boycott (and mmmmmaybe related to the Soviet state-sanctioned doping program running full-steam at the time). Both boycotts were used as opportunities to flex muscle during the Cold War. In fact, I'd speculate - though I'm largely ignorant - that nearly every Olympic Games has been used for this purpose.
It's amusing - in a way - to note that all this was the motivation for the "Rocky" film featuring the death of Apollo Creed and the massive showdown between Rocky and Ivan Drago.
Although it was also politically-motivated, I have to nod with at least some approval of the USSR's Friendship Games. Of course, it was mostly a farce where USSR athletes were essentially mopping the floor with any other participating nation - sambo wrestling, or otherwise.
As an aside, I think I remember reading somewhere that current Russian athletes must compete with the tag of "Neutral Nation" or something like that in the soon-to-occur Tokyo Olympics. Doubtless these would be due to USA-led efforts, and the backing of US-quisling-supported nations (perhaps even Japan itself). I wonder how immune from political pressure the IOC actually is. I'm so ignorant of the issues surrounding it - again, not being much of a sports fan - that I admit I'm just speculating.
It must be difficult for the IOC to maintain impartiality, to enforce a non-partisan, non-political competition, in the face of geopolitical conflict, decade after decade. I wonder if the IOC would ever move to abolish the Games - Summer and Winter - in an effort to stop being a battleground and propaganda outlet for various world powers. Being that it seems such a powerful tool for political propaganda, would the Games simply be reconstituted by the world powers? Would the Friendship Games be the new norm? Are the Olympic Games simply a political tool, full stop, with no redeeming value other than propaganda, with athletes (and their support staff, and their families, and their fans, and etc) caught in the middle?
On a personal note:
Thanks to those who reached out regarding my last entry about health concerns. You're kind for extending well-wishes to someone you don't know.
I did go to a doctor's visit earlier this week. There were no blatant symptoms of anything conclusive, so I was prescribed a week's worth of "industrial strength Aleve" and told to report back at the end of that time. Of course, if things go south before then, I will notify my doctor promptly (or perhaps go to a hospital on the shore, as I'm on vacation starting this Saturday). Current candidates for "problem area" status include:
- a worn-out mattress on my bed that should be replaced
- the sciatic nerve
- my gall bladder
No mention of the appendix, as although I'm apparently not "too old" to have a problem with it, were it ruptured I would definitely know it.
If it doesn't improve by the time the medication is done with, I will likely have blood tests and a torso sonogram to see if there are any outstanding detectable issues.