Going for the Gold: The Economics of the Olympics, a paper in the Journal of Economic Perspectives analyzes the economics of hosting the Olympics, indicting the numbers game played by bid committees and the IOC. Read the rest
In the runup to the 1988 Olympics, the South Korean government ordered Seoul's "vagrants" to be cleared from the street. Thousands of people, many of them small children, were sent to a "welfare facility" called "Brothers Home," where they were subject to vicious, often fatal beatings and routine rape. The order to round up the vagrants came from then-President Park Chung-hee (father of current President Park Geun-hye) whose successor, President Chun Doo-hwan, suppressed any investigation into the atrocities. Read the rest
The only bids remaining are Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing (which has no mountains) -- all the other states that had bid have pulled out following devastating popular opposition (the remaining cities are in countries where the public doesn't get a vote). Read the rest
My friend Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, went to Sochi with his wife, Nancy. He wrote a long, fascinating account of their stay in Russia for Medium. He included lots of pictures.
The Russian Olympics: Observations of a Perplexed Spectator Read the rest
“You are such a sports fan,” Nancy said to me, as though she just noticed it after 30+ years. I do love and hate being a sports fan. I’m conflicted. I’m not always sure why I like to watch sports — and it is as a spectator that I’m most intensely involved.
The conflict for me is that I really don’t care anymore who wins or loses. This is true in the Super Bowl, World Series and the Olympics. I don’t have a team I’m rooting for. I’m looking for something else and I think I realized what it is at the Russian Olympics.
It’s hard to watch the Olympics on TV in America because of the way they package it for Americans, trying to develop a sense that we are rooting for our country and making a connection to American athletes. So much is fabricated, and I wanted to see beyond that. I didn’t come to root for TeamUSA, although I do care what Americans are doing and how American athletes are competing. But it is not why I came to Sochi.
Members of Pussy Riot, including the recently freed women Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were brutally whipped, sprayed and beaten by cossacks representing Russian authorities at the Sochi Olympic Games. The women call the Olympics a political event, and report that they have been harrassed and detained continuously since arriving in Sochi to protest them.
NBC's Sochi headquarters includes a secret, prohibited Starbucks with a crew of 15 imported baristas that keeps the NBC crew fuelled and in good spirits.
NBC and Starbucks say that having drinks dispensed by a non-sponsoring organization (Starbucks) doesn't violate the Olympics' corporate lickspittlery rules because the Starbucks, being located inside the private NBC pavilion, is a "personal item." The Starbucks presence at the Olympics is larger than 57 of the national delegations, and there's a whole elaborate supply-chain of beans being specially imported.
For me, the bewildering thing about this whole deal is that they went to all this trouble to import what is ultimately pretty shitty coffee. I mean, go big or go home -- bring in some beans from Tonx or Intelligentsia or Square Mile, get some of those badass baristas from Melbourne or Wellington, and really go to town. It'd probably be cheaper, and it'd taste about ten million times better. (via Super Punch)
This is the only footage from Sochi that you really need to watch: when the AT-ATs of Russia attacked the skiers, it was sheer, Olympian magic. Watch it now before the IOC exercises its right to humorlessly obliterate anything that interferes with the corporate integrity of its celebration of human potential and indifference to human rights.
Dmitry Kozak, Russia's Olympian deputy prime minister warned a Wall Street Journal reporter that he would release hidden-camera footage of journalists in their hotel bathrooms if they continued to complain about the substandard hotels in Sochi.
Just a reminder for anyone thinking of travelling to Sochi after the Olympics for a spot of tourism: according to Russia's deputy prime-minister, the hotel bathrooms have surveillance cameras that watch you in the shower. Read the rest
As journalists descend on Sochi for the most corrupt Olympics in history, they're discovering the region's Potemkin hospitality industry. The hotels that were meant to billet them while they reported on the games are half-built, unbuilt, falling to bits: but at least they've had their portraits of Vladimir Putin installed. Slave labor just isn't what it used to be. Read the rest
Russian opposition member Alexei Navalny created a website to document the rampant corruption at the Sochi Olympics. The site is a map with clickable regions showing how illegal dumping, graft, inside dealing, and general sleaze caused billions of dollars to disappear into the pockets of Russian political elites and their mafiyeh buddies. The site was translated to English by the Interpreter, which notes: Read the rest
When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova walked out of the Siberian prison camp IK-50, they were defiant. The Pussy Riot members said they wanted acquittal, not amnesty, and an affirmation of the right to protest in Russia. Tolokonnikova gave the press a V-for-victory and shouted "Russia without Putin!"
But afterwards, in a phone interview with the Guardian, Alyokhina described the horrific conditions inside, where women were put to slave labor, and where Tolokonnikova faced daily, punitive forced gynecological exams for three weeks.
Pussy Riot has called on western countries to boycott eh Sochi Games in February. Read the rest
Comedian and national treasure Stephen Fry has written an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the International Olympic Committee calling on them to move the upcoming Winter Olympics from Russia to another country, specifically, any country in which homosexuality is not criminalized and LGBT people are not violently scapegoated as they are in Russia. Vladimir Putin recently rammed through legislation that bans being gay, talking about being gay, or advocating for the rights of LGBT people, and violent gangs routinely and savagely attack LGBT people, with impunity. Vicious practices like "corrective rape" and murder are ignored by the police. Fry compares bringing the Olympics to Russia in 2014 to cowardice that led to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which legitimized Hitler and the Nazis on the global stage. Read the rest