Saturday, August 17, 2013

How the International Olympic Committee avoided standing up to the Nazis in 1933 and Vladimir Putin in 2013

It was 1933 and Adolph Hitler had finally locked himself into place as the dictator of Nazi Germany. First on his agenda was the Olympic games. Hitler was looking forward to using the 1936 games as a vehicle for international stardom.

Supposedly unimpressed by Hitler's anti-Semite rhetoric then President of the American Olympic Committee, Avery Brundage, briefly stood up and declared "The very foundation of the modern Olympic revival will be undermined if individual countries are allowed to restrict participation by reason of class, creed, or race." He was obviously referring to the Jews.

On face value Brundage delivered a very noble comment that was well reasoned and forward thinking for its day but just two years later Brundage changed his mind.  After touring Germany in 1935 he confidently stated: "... I was given positive assurance in writing ... that there will be no discrimination against Jews. You can't ask more than that and I think the guarantee will be fulfilled."

This was an odd statement for Brundage to utter for the political situation in Germany was becoming quite dire for the Jewish population.

One must understand how bad it was for Jews in Nazi Germany circa 1935 to become totally confused why Brundage flip-flopped. Laws were passed that year that mandated that Jews were not considered German citizens anymore. Jews could not marry nor have intercourse with German citizens. Jews could not be a part of civic life and in secret the Gestapo set into a motion a plan to "remedy" the "Jewish problem." This remedy involved releasing waves of violence and muggings to intimidate the Jewish populace. But then it got worse.

In the Fall of 1935 the seeds for the unthinkable were planted. The first mention of Hitler's "Final Solution" or that "solution designed to execute Jews, gays, and the disabled was openly stated. Speaking for Hitler at the Reichstag in Nuremberg, Hermann Göring, dropped this bomb: "if Legislative law can't handle the "Jewish problem" a Final Solution may be needed."

Despite the facts of overwhelming Jewish suppression Brundage wouldn't recant or go back to defending the disenfranchised Jews. Rather he went all in with Nazi Germany and according to the The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "...Brundage alleged the existence of a "Jewish-Communist conspiracy" to keep the United States out of the [Olympic] Games." He also wrote in an American Olympic Committee pamphlet called Fair Play for American Athletes that "American athletes should not become involved in the present "Jew-Nazi altercation." - Similar rhetoric to what we are hearing now regarding the 2014 Sochi, Russia Games.

We did go to the 1936 Olympics and Jesse Owens became an American hero somewhat upstaging Adolph Hitler, however, Hitler did make his point that Germany was once again a world power. But back to Brundage: Last year the New York Daily News published an article regarding a PBS documentary about Jesse Owens which openly stated that Avery Brundage had officially become both a Nazi sympathizer and an anti-Semite. It's hard to believe that the IOC did not recognize this yet they elected him in 1952 as the IOC President a position he held for 20-years.

From the New York Daily News - Article title: Victories for Jesse Owens at 1936 Olympics were just the start of the hurdles he faced
"...As an Olympian he was under the authority of U.S. Olympic Committee chief Avery Brundage, who admired Hitler and infamously replaced two Jewish sprinters on the 4-by-100 relay team because it could have further embarrassed Hitler if they won. 

Today's IOC endorsement of Vladimir Putin's anti-gay law is making Putin's gay prejudice politically acceptable at both the political and athletic level in Russia. Consequently this has severely damaged the Olympic movement for it has never occurred in Olympic movement history that artists, actors, athletes and performers are speaking ill of the Olympics. Especially the ones that are gay.

The Russian anti-gay law makes it punishable by jail and a hefty fine to state that "homosexualism" is a behavioral or genetic variation. You may not mention that you are gay and if you promote it whatsoever such as kissing in public, flying a rainbow flag, or placing a bumper sticker on your car you will be fined and jailed. Moreover, you may not tell anyone that you are gay. You may not say that you're are tolerant of gay behavior or that gays are just as equal as anybody else.

These Russian laws rhyme with those laws of Nazi Germany circa 1933. The IOC knows this but this time they are not only siding with the Russian law, they will help implement them as well.

When an IOC official was asked by the Gay Star News what they will do if an athlete brings up their sexual orientation, the paraphrased reply went as follows: "... The games [are] not the place for ‘political’ statements. Any participant who steps out of line may be punished, not by the Russians but by Olympic chiefs themselves."

This leads me to point number six of the IOC mission statement reads:
• To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement
Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people on the grounds of race, age, or sex.  The line is unarguably clear, the gay minority officially qualifies as a victim as a victim of anti-gay Russian laws and IOC prejudice. Consequently, the IOC has completely failed its mission statement. They failed to apply their own credo as a de facto guideline for selecting a proper host city. They are failing to assure that they will protect the athletes and the spectators as well.

Should the Sochi games be boycotted? No, they should not. But the IOC Should be called out for prejudice, greed, and incompetence for choosing cities that could not promise athlete and spectator safety and/or the appreciation of human rights charter.

It is my hope that dozens of Athletes make a statement and make it an issue there. I am starting to see images pop up of athletes making public demonstrations that are extraordinarily promising. I am hoping that the IOC is forced to apologize and take responsibility for endorsing prejudice and emotional harm to the public it serves. Namely the athletes and the spectators.

Sochi, Russia was picked as a host city in 2007 for the 2014 games. The IOC could have picked Pyeongchang, South Korea (Home of Samsung and Gangnam Style) and curious enough South Korea had originally beat out both Salzburg, Austria and Sochi, Russia in the first round of voting but a slim majority favored Sochi, Russia in the second round. Ironically enough Pyeongchang, South Korea was chosen for the 2018 Winter Games.

As for the 2016 Olympic Games, which are not looking too promising due to the negative mood of the public who rioted over Olympic infrastructure spending versus public infrastructure needs, the IOC chose Rio over both Chicago, Illinois and Tokyo, Japan thereby choosing second-world countries over first-world candidates.

Arguably the reason why Rio de Janeiro was chosen over Chicago was due to a petty monetary squabble with the USOC. (The USOC was flirting with starting an Olympic cable channel which the IOC was not happy about) Consequently IOC greed and possible prejudice may have gavin the Games to two countries that were not ready for prime time.

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