Sport, it is glamour, it is excitement, it is power. But it is also doping, corruption and homes bull-dozed to make way for stadiums.
The horrors emerging from Qatar of migrant workers dying and journalists arrested for talking about it. The seemingly never-ending doping scandals in athletics or tennis.
I read an article last night by Jules Boycoff which digs into the shadows behind the glitz of Rio2016.
One section jumped out: “There’s no getting around the fact that billions are being spent on the Olympics at the same time that hospitals are being shuttered and education funding is being slashed.
“With great fanfare Olympic organizers announced $500 million in spending cuts earlier this year. But the Brazilian government recently cut three times that amount from its health and education budgets.”
Is this really what we want to celebrate?
I remember the Beijing Olympics and that incredible Bird’s Next stadium, but how many people were displaced to make that happen? Friends who lived in Beijing at the time said unknown thousands lost their homes, and thousands more had their homes swathed in hoardings to hide the poverty.
Clean air that is such a rarity for Chinese people was guaranteed for the athletes – by closing factories around Beijing for months before the Olympics. Did those workers get paid? Who knows?
This article by Dave Hill looks at London2012 and its legacy for the people in the East End around it. The writer looks at how the stadiums are being used, but cannily when it comes to the real estate points out that land-owners and investors are smiling but not necessarily your average Joe.
Talking to local politicians, he writes:
“Newham’s executive mayor Sir Robin Wales says: “The government has walked away from legacy. We’ve been given some of the biggest cuts in the country, as have Tower Hamlets and Hackney. So that’s masses of money taken out of the East End.””