Global Athlete
Global Athlete

Episode · 1 month ago

Re-release: History of International Sport Governance with Prof. Jules Boykoff


This is a re-release of our interview with Proffessor Jules Boykoff, originally published within GA Poscast EP01.

The Olympics are no doubt an iconic sports staple and whether watching gymnasts tumble across an arena or skiers flying down the slopes, chances are you’ve watched—and probably cheered for—an Olympic event. Professor Jules Boykoff joins Noah Hoffman to break down the history of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and share the impact of some remarkable highs and lows of the modern Olympic games.      

In this episode, we talk about…

  • Pierre Coubertin’s vision and who he wanted to participate in the Olympics 
  • How athletes fit into the Olympic story throughout history
  • Peter O’Connor’s activism at the 1906 Olympics
  • Alice Milliat’s alternative Olympics for women 
  • The lasting influence of John Carlos, Tommie Smith and the Olympic Project for Human Rights in 1968 
  • How the IOC leverages sanctions against athletes in present day
  • IOC’s governance structure and accountability 
  • 4 Trends of Olympic host cities: high spending, militarization, displacement and eviction, greenwashing 
  • How the United Nations addresses the democracy deficit of the IOC
  • The state of exception the IOC thrives on vs. state of emergency in Japan for upcoming summer games  

Memorable Quotes:

  • “All to often, those stories of fighting back on the part of principled athletes who weren’t happy with the way the Olympics were being organized, get shuffled under the historical rug….Athletes have been standing up to those in power...and standing up for their freedoms and their political beliefs.”  
  • “Athletes have a tremendous amount of leverage if they act in unison, if they act in concert, and if they have a good plan going in.”  

Guest Bio: 

Jules Boykoff writes on a range of subjects, including political activism, the Olympic Games, and climate change. Boykoff holds a Ph.D. in political science from American University. He currently teaches political science at Pacific University in Oregon.

He is the author of four books on the Olympics—NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Beyond (Fernwood, 2020), Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics (Verso, 2016), Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London (Rutgers University Press, 2014), and Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games (Routledge, 2013).  

Links to resources:

Jules Boykoff 

“A Bid for a Better Olympics” New York Times (13 August 2014) Join the movement for athlete driven change across the world of sport at

Professor Jules Boykoff is the chair ofPacific University's politics and government department he's the authorof numerous books on the Olympics and the politics of sports he's one of theforemost experts on the International Olympic Committee and Sport as angeopolitical force. Professor Boykoff, I'm so excited to welcome you as thevery first guest on the Global Athlete podcast what an honor. No I'm so happyto join you thanks for having me. I want to start at the beginning, themodern Olympics, where the brainchild of the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, youwrite that Couperin's vision for the Games abounded with contradictions,peace and good will bound up with sexism, racism and class privilege. Canyou talk about Couperin's vision and who the games were and were not forsure? Well, the Baron, it's pretty clear, was an Aristocrat from Franceand he had this grand ambitious vision to create the Olympic Games in modernform and to base it on the old Greek Olympics, and this guy had a lot ofenergy and he wrote a lot. So it's really great your listeners can go backand read his essays that he wrote on these various topics, but he definitelyhad a lot of blind spots and one of them was sexism around the Olympics.When he re envisioned these Olympics, women really were not to play a role.In fact, he wrote as much. He said that women were there to place the laurelson the heads of the victorious men champion athletes and also to producebaby boys that might one day become Olympian, so obviously he had no placefor women in this. He also had a vision that was really quit, making theOlympics for an Aristocatic, aristocratic class, including himself.Actually, the Baron won the prize for poetry at one thousand, nine hundredand twelve Olympics in Stockholm using a pseudonym, so the judges weren'tsupposed to recognize them. Although there's a lot of people that wroteabout it, this that they knew it was the baron and he got the first prizefor his poem owed to Sport, which I highly recommend going back to, becauseyou can learn a lot about his views on sports. What was basically everythingin society and everything to him, so it was back to the point of it being anaristocratic kind of event. Workers were not allowed to participate in theearly days of the Games. It was inscribed into the very definition ofamateurism. So if you were a brick layer or you are a great picker or youwere a person who has worked at a bar, you were not allowed to participate inthe early Olympics because you are considered a professional because youare making money from the Games. Well, obviously, I left a field wide open forbarons and counts and Dukes and all his buddies to to enjoy the games, and youknow it was also a predominantly white affair. The Baron does deserve somecredit for trying to make the Games open tocountries from Africa. Although when you look back at how he described it,it was like racist, tinged and colonialist in his mentality. Talkingabout how people from Africa were quote, Unquote: Lazy according to the Baronand how they would benefit from participating in the Olympics. I wouldbe a chance to fix them, so he had a lot of blind spots, but theproject itself was supposed to bring sports to the world, and it wassupposed to toughen up young people who he was kind of a crotchety old baron.In some ways like you know, he was upset because France had just gottendrugged in the Franco Prussian war and he thought what better way to toughenup our quote: Unquote Flabby Youth, then by getting them involved in sports.So sports were supposed to be both a pathway to peace, but also to ready totoughen up the young people for war. So, like you said no a bit ofcontradictions upon which the Olympics were born in that telling and in yourwritings as well, it's clear that you know if anything, the Baron and the IOCas it became known after the Baron's founding really, you know, had anagenda both in Geo politics and in and for athletes, and that the gamesweren't really about athletes, and it's in it was in reading some of yourwritings. It's it was struck me how athletes are really just a side story.How do you see? Athletes is fitting into the Olympic story, both at thebarren time and through history yeah. That's such a great question I mean.Certainly in the early days it was only a particular type of athlete, so anaristocratic man was what the Olympics were made for, of course, that openedonly because of the pressure from society from movements in the streetsthat made them like the Baron and those folks changed their tune in the suits,and it opened it up to people like women and others. But yeah is, if youcan read a political history of the Olympics and get the feeling that it'sjust sort of this huge ideological and economic now juggernaut with anappendage of sport kind of attached to it where athletes are sort of almostsecondary to these larger struggles, around ideology, ideas and, and nowmore than ever, probably making money for people who are already doing quitewell in Societye. But you know every...

...single step of the way there wereathletes that weren't willing to go along with that narrative. I think, alltoo often those stories of fight back on the part of principal athletes whoweren't happy with the way the Olympics were being organized, get sort ofshuffled under the historical rug, and I think part of my work has been to tryto lift up and illuminate some of those interesting stories to show thatactually from pretty much the very beginning of the Olympics, athleteshave been standing up to those in power, demanding a more firm seat at the tableand standing up for their freedoms as well in their political beliefs andthere's a really rich history of that. That sort of is threaded through thepolitical history of the Olympics as well, and one that I think isespecially important in this moment that we're living right now, becauseyou have this incredible outburst of thinking. Athletes who are willing tostand up for what they believe in. Even if those who are overseeing theOlympics and I'm thinking in particular. Now the International Olympic Committeewant to stop those athletes from having a say in these important matters of ourtimes. And so I think, perhaps it's more important than ever to be thinkingabout the fact that there's a long political history of athletes, despitethe fact that they're not necessarily given the best seat at the table, thatthey do stand up and fight for the right. That's exactly where I want togo next. So I appreciate the T up. Can you tell the story of Peter O ConnorSkilling the flagpole one thousand nine Nen O six games? Oh I'm so happy totell this story because for starters I didn't know about this when I startedwriting this Book Power Games, a political history of the Olympics and Icame across his story- Peter O Connor in a footnote- and I ended up trackingdown his family in Ireland and when I was over in Ireland, they had me overfor tea, cakes and tea and such and we sat in the back yard and they showed meall of peter o Connor's papers, and he was this meticulous care, taker ofnotes and articles about what he did. So what did Peter O Connor do? Peter OConnor was an ardent Irishman and he participated at one thousand ninehundred and o six Olympics in Athens. That was the first Olympics where, inorder to participate, you had to participate for a country that had anational Olympic Committee. Well at that time, Ireland did not have anational Olympic Committee because it was being ruled by Westminster at thetime, so Britain was in charge and so he qualified for the Olympics. He was aproud Irishman, like I mentioned, he arrives at the Olympics and Athens andreads in a program that he is actually there to participate for the Britishand he's not happy about it, and they have the first ever kind of walk inceremony like that resembles more of the opening ceremonies of today and hewalks in with his buddy conley. He also an Irishman with these unmistakablegreen jackets to denote that they're from Ireland with these cute caps thathave sham rocks on top and they kind of lag way behind the rest of the Britishteam, like they are sending a clear political message like we want nothingto do with these Brits and we're here to participate for Ireland, butofficially on the schedule. They were there to participate for for Britain,so he does well. He meddles in an event and, as is the tradition, the flags gethoisted up the flag pole when the when the award ceremony occurs and he kindof just flips and o Connor runs over to the flag pole. He shimmys up the flagpole. He Yanks down the Union. Jack Flag, holds up an Irish Aaron GabraIreland for ever flag and is waving it overhead, while his buddies stand belowat the base of the flagpole guarding. So when the Greek police come, theycan't stop o Connor from this act. I mean what a bold act to do, what apolitical act to do at that moment. They did it again his Buddy Conley. Hemeddled in the got a gold medal in the high jump, and this time they did sortof a similar thing with the Irish Aran Gabra flag from the from the ground,and so what a moment I athlete activism and that's kind of what I meant. Noyeah, I mean there's the threads all the way back through and and this guyis a terrific example of athletes standing up for what they believe inagainst the power structure, because that story is so fun. I want to ask youto tell one other one, and especially because you brought up kind of thesexism that the baron instilled in the modern Olympics. Can you tell the storyof Alice Millie and how she kind of broke that sexism yeah to understand what they did to fight back against thissexism. You have to first understand the sexismthat was in grain of the Olympics. I mentioned before that the baron had nodesire to have women participate in the Olympics. He was very clear about that,and you know he was clear about that all the way. Until the nineteen latenine S, he was still saying that women don't have a role in the Olympic Games.I mean this as well after women had got the right to vote, for example in theUnited States, so he was way behind the Times with that and women were notallowed in the first Olympics in o n, eight undred and ninety six, but aroundtwenty or so athletes who were women participated in the nineteen hundredgames in Paris, not very many, of course, just around twenty or so by onethousand nine hundred and twenty. There...

...was a little over sixty women who areparticipating, and yet the games were growing. So it really only went fromabout two point: two percent of the athletes in nine hundred to two point:four percent, one thousand nine hundred and twenty, so not exactly a hugegrowth, and that had a lot to do with the baron and his friends who arerunning the Olympics. So out of this exclusion was born creativity and soAlice Milia and her colleagues got together and started. This alternativeto the Olympics called the women's Olympics, where women were allowed toparticipate in all the sports and they were tremendously successful, like tensof thousands of people showed up for these events and they held four of themevery four years. Throughout the S and N S, and like I say, lots of peopleshowed up. There was obviously an interest for women's sports andathletics and they capitalized off that. In the meantime, they were playing kindof an inside outside game. What I mean is their alternative Olympics were sortof outside the structure of the Olympic Games, demonstrating that obviouslywomen can participate in sports and do really well, but they were also workingthe corridors of power and they were pushing the International Olympic comedo to include more women. So I think it's really important to note that itwas like an inside outside kind of recipe pushing from the outside andalso working from the inside. But you know the context is really importantthere. There was just so much sexism at the time I mean some of the so calledbest. Doctors of the era were warning women against riding bicycles, becauseit would dance supposedly damage their uterus and also they would get thisstrange disease called bicycle face. They literally the best doctors of thetime were saying if women women, if you ride a bike, you will get this diseasecalled bicycle face, which you know was obviously just a bunch of confected YipYap. It had nothing to do with anything medical, but you know I point that outto say this- that e Hu nineteen twenty eight Olympics when because of a milliaand her friend's efforts to show that women are perfectly capable of carryingout high level sport, women were allowed to participate in events at theAmsterdam Olympic, one thousand nine hundred and wenty eight, and when thewomen crossed the finish line at the eight hundred meter dash a few of themcollapsed to the ground, which will happen at like any. You know majorhighly competitive race. I was in Rio de Janeiro watching track and fieldthere, and I was watching the mens do Cathalan and when they crossed theeight hundred meter finish, men just collapsed the ground. I thought Oh, mygosh, that's what the women were bashed for one thousand nine hundred andtwenty eight, so the International Limpid Comity sees these womencollapsed to the ground and they say: Oh, this, fair gender just can't handlethis kind of race, and so they disallowed women from from running inthe eight hundred until one thousand nine hundred and sixty now on thousandnine hundred and sixty right so like it just goes to show you that there isincredible sexism and that you could create those alternative structures asthey did and they were tremendously successful. And you know if it weren'tfor them pushing back in th S and S. I don't think you would have seen womenmake this strong return to the Olympics in the S and s. You know they wasreally built on the shoulders of those courageous women who figured out how todo things outside the box as a cross country skier. I can certainly relateto collapsing at the finish line, of course, when I think about anobserve when many listeners think about athlete protest today. We think aboutTommy Smith and John Carlos in one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight,and I want to connect that to the recent IOC release, stating that kind ofreiterating that you know any sort of protest or demonstration on the podiumwhere the field to play is prohibited. Vic Rules and there will be punishmentsfor athletes who who demonstrate who protest on the podium on the field toplay like Tommy Smith and John Carlos, an one thousand nine hundred and sixtyeight. Can you talk about kind of the repercussions of their actions forthose athletes specifically and tie that into the kind of the latest debate,and the recent review of the ice did yeah when you're talking about John Carlosand Tommy Smith, putting their fists in the air in Mexico City in one thousandnine hundred and sixty eight you're talking about one of the most importantmoments and widely known moments in world history, not just Olympic history,but world history. You go all around the world and you pop your head inapartment buildings here and there you'll see that photo on a poster onpeople's wall around the world. It just resonated in this major way. They werepart of a movement called the Olympic Project for human rights that emergedwith a number of athletes that were involved in the Olympics in t s whowere political athletes, and I want to highlight they were part of a movement-the Olympic Project for human rights. I also want to highlight the fact thattoday we talk about human rights, as is just you know, an important thing whichit is, but in the s they were super cutting edge. I mean, if you read booksabout the history of human rights and how it's talked about the world. Theyreally weren't mainstreamed until he s...

...a, and so I just want to point out.They were also cutting edge in terms of ideas and like holding on to theseimportant ideas and levers to fight back against power, but what they did,they paid a real price, for they were immediately kicked out of the OlympicVillage. It was the United States Olympic Committee that' what they'recalled at the time who gave them the boot at the behest of Avery Brundage,the president of the International Lipa Committee, the Chicago tycoon, who wasalso derisively known by athletes at the time as slavery, Avery Brundage forhis racist beliefs, and he was also anti Semitic in his police and I've hadthe I don't know if it was an honor, but I've gone through his archives anddug out some of the horrid gems that he threw into his personal notes aboutwhat he thought about: Jewish people and African Americans, let alonecommunist socialist anybody with the leftest kind of idea in their head, soanyways they got the boot. Their lives were very difficult. After that it washard to come by work. They were ostracized in the community. Today,it's easy to celebrate them, and we absolutely should I mean PresidentObama had them at the White House for goodness sakes to celebrate them. But let's not forget that the struggleand the sacrifice that they did to stand by what they did. Then you know Iactually just had the good fortune of talking to Dr Carlos just the other dayon the phone we were catching up and he was definitely making the connectionsbetween what he did in the s and what's happened now, and I know he's in veryclose contact with the number of the Tokyo bound Olympians from the UnitedStates, and he was really highlighting to me the importance of unity and howyou know him and Smith stuck together and for the most part it was a rockytime for sure they don't want to overstate how o make it sound simple,but he was talking about how unity is so important right now in this moment,how we're living this black lives matter extended moment and how it couldbe incredibly powerful were athletes to stand up for black lives mattering inTokyo. Now you asked about you know what was the pushback. Well, if youlook at the International Olympic Committees Olympic Charter, there wasnothing directly saying that an athlete couldn't protest inside of the arenalike it says now, and what's the current formation of rule fifty therewere I've traced, the history of the International Olympic CommitteesCharter, and there were rules that were about kind of keeping politics out ofsports, but it really wasn't until after Smith and Carlos did that iconicact of one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight Olympics that those who ranthe international lip IC committee really rationed down their rule bookand made it illegal to do any kind of protest or demonstration inside of anyOlympic venue or other area pretty capacious definition, I might add, aswell. I've actually gone through their notes. They were in their meetings,their kind of meeting minutes and they were actually much in their initialdiscussions of this. What became rule fifty, they were actually very explicitabout quote, unquote, suppressing to the descent of athletes and thatlanguage didn't make it into the actual rule. But if you read the minutes, youcan see. That was definitely the goal. So where does that take us to today? Wehave this incredible moment where you have athletes who are riding this site.CIST of black lives matter, riding the Zit Gist of me to more aware than everof the native activism, around pipelines in North America, for example,and working in solitary with all number of social justice groups, and you haveathletes that are no longer willing to be silent and it really makes rulefifty look archaic, not to mention the fact that it clashes mightily againstArticle Nineteen and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, whichsates that people should have the ability to speak out freely. So there'slike there's a clash inside of that rule against basic human rightsprinciples, but setting that aside, I think we're at this incredible momentfor athlete activism. I mean it's not just me. Obviously you know you look atyour race and boat in and fencing you look at Glen, Berry and in track andfield and what they did at the Pan Am Games. And you, you really wonder whatcould happen at the Summer Olympics sure they transpire in Tokyo thissummer with all these jacked up, athletes who know their history arecommitted to wider struggles outside of fors. I think it's just an excitingmoment to be alive for this. I want to hone in on a specific word that you usethere. You you said that aft one thousand nine hundred and sixty eightthe IOC made it illegal. Can you talk about like you know? Whatis the mechanism that the IC is using over athlete? What is that power youknow is is illegal. It's not, you know, there's not criminal liabilitynecessarily. So what does that power? Look like yeah, you know, that's a great pointthere. No, I'm not even sure. If really illegal would be the the exact rightword, but they ban it, they prohibit doing it and they are the people thatoversee the Olympics and you're right. There isn't any kind of criminalliability. I mean I can't envision that, but that doesn't mean there's notrepercussions within the Olympics, Pear so yeah. I mean, I think, that's thebig question that a lot of folks are asking right now, like what kind ofleverage does the International Olympic Committee have to sanction athletesthese days. Athletes are a much more powerfulposition in some ways because they can...

...speak out directly using social mediathere's a lot of people that are journalists right now that are morethan open to talking to athletes who are critical about their workplaces,which is to say, like the Olympics, fear in which they're working it's sodifferent, one thousand nine hundred and sixty eight- I mean some of yourlisteners. I imagine, will remember Brent Mussburger, the famouscommentator who still is around today working the TV sets around collegefootball. He was a writer at that time, one thousand nine hundred and sixtyeight for the Chicago American and he lambasted Smith and Carlos. He calledthem quote: Unquote blackskinned storm troopers and said that what they weredoing had no place in society. You know I just can't imagine that happeningtoday. You would surely have some crotchet old, I must say, probablywhite guys sitting around who are journalists. They would write that kindof thing today, but there's so much more cover than there was at that time,and so what kind of sanctions could they do? I'm not really necessarilysure they could box them out of the Olympics, that is for sure, and theycould give him perhaps the boot of the Olympic Village if they could get theUnited States Olympic and Paralympic Committee to go along, but theirleverage is becoming a little bit weaker. I would argue VV athletes, butalso that depends on what Dr Carlos was intimating to me, which is what kind ofunity are we going to see in Tokyo, that's kind of what it comes down to inthe end who's going to stand up alongside of the person that does agesture, even if you're not going to do a gesture yourself. Yet you supportthat act. That's actually huge in this moment, so it'll be interesting to see.I want to hone in a little bit on in kind of the IOC Governin structure. Youknow I you quote in Your Book: You are to talk about every brand dige, thepresent of the arc of the S and s that you quote him in the book assaying that the Olympics Olympics constitutes a high level of democracyfound in few other lines of endeavor. However, you say Brundage in the IOC,sorry Brundage and all other IOC presidents have been adamantly againstpracticing democracy within the IOC. Can you talk about the IC Governinstructure? How people come to power in the IOC and and what kind ofaccountability there is sure. So, when the Olympics startedwith our buddy, the baron pier to Cooper Tan way back in the e s, hebasically got together fifteen of his friends, a heavy amount of counts andDukes and other barons, and they started the International OlympicCommittee. So there is a really high aristocrat quotion from the beginningand that amazingly sticks today you can look down the list online of themembers of the International Olympic men there's a whole lot of them. I meanthere's now we have princesses not just princes because of the fact that in onethousand nine hundred and eighty one, the international IMPI committeedecided to allow women into the ranks. Yes, you heard me right on one thousandnine hundred and eighty one. So this is not like a proto feminist organizationwe're talking about here, but the baron got together his buddies and they ranthe Olympics and at the time when it started, the Baron was basically sayingthe way he saw it was there was these concentric circles around hisorganizational structure. There was kind of like the insiders, like theBaron who, like really believed in this project and really understood theproject, because it takes a little bit of time to understand the machinationsof it all. Then you had the second concentric circle of people who hethought could learn the ropes and could get involved in maybe one day join thatinner circle and then the final outer third circle he described is kind oflike basically pretty faces people that were popular people. That would givethe Olympics kind of a Nice Outer Chin some good Pr. If you will, and eventhough the Baron was writing about that, you know a hundred plus years ago, whenI think about the international lympic comet today, I sort of see a kind ofsimilar situation developing under the current president. Tomas Bah he's verymuch tightened up the center of power around himself and the executive boardthat that consists of fifteen people. It's the president, the four vicepresidents and then ten others who are elected on to this executive word. Theyhold tremendous power in terms of how the Games transpire they keep track ofthe money, machinations of the Olympics and much much more and the other people.While they do play a role, they attend the meetings and they get their fourhundred and fifty dol a day per dum when they do so, I might point out, but they don't have nearly the amountof power. I would say that it's been striking as someone who's been anobserver of the International Lympic Committee for quite a while now howmuch President Tomas Boh has consolidated power under his reign, andyou know it was really interesting to me to see one of these zoom meetingsnot too long ago. Just a few weeks back and all these members of theInternational Olympic Committee just praising Tomas Bach One after the other,in this kind of really odd, like dear leader moment, that actually remindedme of a trump prince press conference that he had with some of the members ofhis cabinet about just this over the top praise for this gentleman and allhow much they really appreciate it all his work. So you know the InternationalImpi Committee has a tight nickgroup of...

...insiders that are kind of running theshow, and they I view them as a group. That's constantly changing without everactually changing it all meaning they're tinking mering around the edges,with things they're trying to bring in and incorporate ideas from the past. Iyet not actually really changing that much. Let me give an example based onsomething we were talking about before so Smith, and Carlos, like we discussed,were booted out of the Olympic Village ostracized from the Olympic Movement.If you go on the Olympic Channel today, there's actually a video thatcelebrates them and their courage so like what I'm saying is theinternational lympic committe can reach back in time and incorporate thesefolks while at the same time denying athletes in the present moment theability to do with Smith in Carlos did, which they're celebrating as courageousso there's just a lot of kind of mind play shall we say at work there,but in terms of like the structure of the organization, I would say one other important element.They have all these different commissions and one of them they havean athletes commission and they say right on their website. TheInternational LYMPIC committee does how Athletes Olympic athletes can getinvolved and it seems to me that's an invitation and an opportunity forpolitically minded creative, critical thinking, athletes to get a foothold inthe organization and start pushing from the inside, not unlike Alice Milliathat we were talking about before. I T S and s with the women's Olympics inthe International Lympic Committee, not unlike that pushing from the inside andalso from the outside, to get the change that athletes are trying to getright now. Do you view athletes as the the entity that can hold the IOC moreaccountable? You know more than what about host cities. What about sponsoring? You know, go inter worldwide partners, but you do think athletes are the primary force that canhold them contile. Does it take off everybody or yeah? That's such a goodquestion. I would say that, because athletes are what make the Olympics theOlympics, I mean nobody would watch the athletes. Were I mean sorry, nobodywould watch the Olympics were it not for the amazing athletes and with thatyou know, comes a certain amount of power. I say that with some hesitation,though, because like I don't I'm not one of those people that say allathletes should be outspoken political athletes. I think you need to be whereyou're at- and I wouldn't want anyone to like push too hard and beyond way,beyond their comfort zone and put themselves out there and only to get awhole hail full of abuse from people. I think you need to work with athleteswhere they are, but to your question yeah I mean I think, athletes have atremendous amount of leverage if they act in unison if they act in concertand if they have a good plan going in the other groups that you mentionedalso have power. The corporate entities that are the world wide Olympicsponsors, for example, but you know based on history and the research thatI've done, they are very reticent to speak out on any of the issues that youand I have been talking about and might be concerned with. In terms of socialjustice, I mean these are capital is entities. These are not altruisticentities and they're in it to make money and to sort of benefit from theOlympic Halo effect and that Halo is created by athletes. So it kind ofalways goes back to the athletes. So on one hand, athletes have the power. Onthe other hand, it's like athletes are are also not powerful in the sense thatwe have well, I should say not. All athletes, in my mind are created equalin terms of power, because you've got like the ones from really well known,sports that are making tons of money that are financially insulated and theycan feel much more free to speak out and if we think about Tokyo, who arethe athletes that have wondered aloud whether they should happen. I mean it's.People like Naomi Osaka, who's, doing well, other well known tennis, players,who've spoken out and wondered. But if you're from you know a lesser knownsport, where this is your one chance to like, maybe claw back some of the moneythat you spent of your own money to make it to the Olympics and to get aanother sponsorship and to keep your career going, obviously you'd be alittle bit less inclined to speak out boldly against the entire Olympicproject. So I don't want to make it sound, like all. Athletes like arecoming from the same power base, but I do think that if they, if athletesstand up together, they are probably the most powerful energy. But you knowthe other. The other thing is like I feel like the IO ces really putathletes in the middle here and I'm looking ahead a little bit to Beijing,as as I talked about this in the Winter Olympics, because athletes are very much stuck in themiddle, I mean. Obviously you have a human rights violator in China andBeijing. I mean it's just very well documented from human rightsorganizations around the world and you have a International Olympic Committee.That says, basically there's nothing to see here and therefore athletes getthrown in the middle thinking. Aslee athletes, especially and that's a verydifficult position to be in where you're operating inside of the Olympicsfear and yet you're critical of it. And how do you act around that? It's an incredibly difficult thing, andI don't want to minimize that, and you know I should also say before we go anyfurther. Like I mean myself, you know I'm. I sound like you know thisacademic guy who's done all this...

...research, but, like I also was anathlete myself. You know I professional soccer player I played for the US. UTwenty three soccer team also was the Olympic soccer team. I was not in anOlympics. Let me be clear about that, so I'm not an Olympian, but nor am Ilike a crochety academic sitting here. In my little smoking jacket, smoking atobacco pipe or something and thinking of ways of destroying sports in theworld. I actually love sports. I think sports have tremendous power andsociety, but with that power comes responsibility and in my estimation theathletes are largely living up to that responsibility, but I'm not so sureabout the International Impi Committee at this moment. Well, as we talk aboutkind of athletes, pushing the IOC to to be accountable and to prioritize socialissues and social justice, it's not just because the IOC is a tool forspreading these messages. It's also because the IOC has been a perpetratorof a lot of harm, an a lot of violence and you've written extensively aboutthis particular in relation to host cities, and I was hoping you talk alittle bit about you- know kind of He. The legacy of the Olympics on recenthost cities, in particular relation to kind of public private partnerships andthe finances of the host ity agreement. Sure so. The way that I approach,studying the Olympics from an academic perspective is what we might call abottom up approach. I don't go to the top of the Olympic Pyramid, talk toTomas Bah and Richard Pound and those folks and like figure out and go downfrom there now. I actually take a very different approach. I have actuallymoved to the Olympic city I lived in London before and during the twothousand and twelve Olympics. I learned Portuguese moved to Rio de Jiner withmy family in two thousand and fifteen, and we were there in two thousand andfifteen in two thousand and sixteen and I talked to- and I was there for theOlympics and I talked to everyday people in the city. So my viewpoint isvery much informed by that from talking to people on the ground, many of whomwill never be able to afford an Olympic ticket to go to an event when theyactually roll through town and in doing so and thinking critically about thesort of what we might call negative externalities or sort of theinadvertencies of the Games. I've come to notice a number of patterns and oneof the patterns that you see is over spending I mean the Olympics are sortof like etaketo economics, where, during the bid phase, you write on yourechase h a certain number and then, when you get the Olympics, you sort ofshake it up, and then you actually write a new number on your at yoursketch. No, you know that at your sketches, do you do yeah? Okay, I'm notfifty year old geezer talking about this Tory from my youth or somethingthere was going to be like. What's that old man talking about so the point isthere is a long track record of Olympic cities, basically low balling duringthe bid phase, when everyone's, like, Oh yeah, okay, I'll get on board withthat the general population and then boom the the sky rocketing price isjust shocking. I mean Tokyo is a shining example of that was supposed tocost seven point three billion dollars, but instead it's looking like more likethirty billion dollars, but it's not just Tokyo. I mean you go through everysingle Olympics backwards. I can. I could do it for you Pong Chang sixpoint: five billion went to thirteen billion Rio, twelve billion went totwenty billion, so thou supposed to be twelve billion, went to fifty onebillion more than all Winder Olympics combined. You get the point right, Ikeep, we can go, keep going back through time. So that's one of thetrends that we see another one is the militarization of public space. Now weall know from thinking about the history of the Olympics that sometimesthe Games, because they've gotten so big and important politically they canbecome a terrorist target. We saw that in Atlantan thousand nine hundred andninety six. When the bomb went off, we saw a one thousand nine hundred andseventy two in Munich when the Israeli athletes got snatched and all thesepeople got shot dead on the tarmac there and Germany. We saw that in twothousand and fourteen when the Chechen rebel Docu Umar of stated publicly thatthe Sochi Olympics were a legit terrorist target, and so, of course,every single Olympic host is going to build up their arsenal to fend offterrorism, but when the terrorists don't come- and you know God willing-we don't want them to. Obviously activist sometimes do talking about theprice of the Games talking about the militarization of the public sphere forthe Games, and they often bear the brunt of this, and the other thing is because host cities and security forcesin these host cities and countries basically use the Olympics, like theirown private cash machine to get all the special weapons they'd never be able toget during normal political times. They keep those things after the Games.They don't just go okay, well, the Olympics are over boys, put him back inthe box and send them back to where we bought those. You know thousandsurveillance cameras in the case of Vancouver, tousand, ten, no, they juststay and they become part of normal policing forever more. The third trendthat I've noticed- and not just me I mean these- are other scholars- havebeen writing about this for a while, and that is displacement and eviction.The general rule is that in the global north places like London, you've gotgentrification, so prices go up and people get priced out and they have tomove from places. They maybe were living for generations, their familyand the global south. It tends to be more forced a viction, so the policemove in and boot you out of your home.

When I was living in Rio, I was workingwith a community called Vila Toruma, which was totally uprooted to make wayfor an Olympic parking lot. Seventy seven thousand people were ripped fromtheir homes in Rio di Janeiro Beijing, one point five million people, and thisis a trend that goes way back. One thousand nine hundred and eighty eightsoul Olympics more than seven hundred thousand people were removed from theirhomes to make way for Olympic venue. So that's yet another trend, displacementand forced a viction to make way for these Olympic venues and the last oneis green, washing, and I know that there's a lot of winter Olympians thathave been especially concerned around the environmental policies of theInternational Lympic Committee, because fewer in fewer cities can now host theWinter Olympics just because of the snow issues, but green washing just totake it at the ground. Floor is having all these big green claims about yourcaring for the environmental issues, but then, unfortunately, not fillingthrough in the clutch, and so you know when I was living in Rio de Giner, anexample that really stuck in my mind, was in the real bid books when theywere going for the Olympics. They said that they would clean upeighty percent of the water that was filtrating into Guanabara Bay, which isthis place where people recreate and but which is very dirty. I went outthere in a boat one day and I saw like goats floating by in the water. I meanit's nasty there right, so the people I met in Rio were like heck yeah. I meanokay, I guess, if it's the Olympics, it takes it to clean up Guanabara Barabawill so be it well, unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened and theydid not clean up the bay and instead of eighty percent of the water beingcleaned before I entered the bay by the time the Olympics came around, it waslike twenty five percent, or so, according to the best estimates ofscientists there in Rio, you look at Tokyo. You see some green washing goingon there as well. I mean a lot of folks were concerned when Tokyo first got theOlympics, because it was only a few short months after the triple Wamidisaster in Fukushima, where you have the earthquake, UNAMI and nuclear meltdown there, and so people are asking the organizers in Japan were puttingforth. This bid. Well, Hey! Well, how do you? How do you deal with this? Andthey said? Oh, no, it's everything is under control, quote unquote and we'regoing to call these Olympics. The recovery games quote unquote to helpFukushima recover through having the Olympics. Well, I traveled to FuKashima in two thousand and nineteen with the great sports journalist,Dave's, irony ere, covering this for the nation magazine and everybody. Wespoke with in Fukushima whether it was just a rent, random person off thestreet, whether it was an elected official, whether it was a journalistin Fukushima. First of all said things were not under control when Shinzo Abbewas saying that in two thousand and thirteen to the International ImpiCommittee and second, all they were saying actually hosting the Olympicshas slowed down the recovery in Fukushima in that they're, all thecranes and so on have been in Tokyo instead of in the affected areas, andso that's really the fourth trend, and it's not just Tokyo. It's not just Rio.It's many other Olympics. Besides that and it's because of those trends, Ithink that fewer and fewer cities are keen to host the Olympic Games anymoreand a lot of cities are just saying no and that's forced the InternationalOlympic comet take a slightly different approach like instead of the old dayswhere they would give the Olympics out seven years in advance. Now they'redoing it eleven years in advance, as happened with Los Angeles and they'retalking about doing the same with Brisbane, basically locking in a city long before the Olympics happened, andthis ties back last point here Noah. This ties back to an issue you raisedbefore which I didn't quite talk enough about. I think it which is thedemocracy deficit in the international of the committee, where, if you havethe Olympics coming some eleven years out well, then you're hardly going tobe having a population. That's really n able to take it that seriously, letalone have a referendum on something that's supposed to happen. Eleven yearsdown the road I mean it's my opinion that if you're going to have anOlympics, everybody in your Olympic town shouldbe able to weigh in and vote whether they want to say that's what I want touse my taxpayer dollars on. That should just be bare minimum requirement andthere's been some murmurs in the International Impi Committee, saying Ohyeah. That sounds fine, but now they're doing this with Brisben giving it. Youknow eleven years out with no referendum and it kind of cuts backagainst that sorry. I said that was last point. Onelast last point Noah is you know? On the Democracy Front, I was, I wrote, anessay for the New York Times. It invited essay in two thousand andfourteen where they say it was like one of those magic wand essays where theysay. If you had a magic wand, how would you fix the Olympics, and so I thoughtI took it in good faith and I wrote an essay for the New York Times in twothousand and fourteen. That was my best effort to say how they shouldfix up the Olympics and right afterwards I was invited to speak by Franz Beckenbauer, the Germansoccer great in Austria, and they flew me there. Like two weeks later, myticket cost eleven thousand seven hundred dollars, which is like blew mymind. I was like wait a minute what's going on here. This is not my regularlife folks. I don't fly business class ever first of all and then with thatkind of ticket. Well, I got there and I...

...presented my ideas and one of my ideas.You know and by the way, like Thomas Bach was there, no l, L Motawakel thevice president of the IOC. was there then president of FIFA step ladder andthey all had to sit there, and you know listen to these ideas and one of theideas I said was just okay. If you're going to vote on these Olympic citiesjust make everybody's vote public, I mean FIFA has done this where they justsay who you're voting for that's supposed to be designed to like. Thenyou can't just vote for this outlandish bid, because even those way weaker thanthe other bids, but you happen to know that person or you got a bribe for that.Person has been the case in the past, and I thought that was like the leastof my radical suggestions was like just say who you voted for, but my gosh, theroom was like. Oh my gosh, no, you can't possible. We couldn't do that slike a gasp like throughout the hall, and I was like Whoa. This is justplaying weird and guess what they haven't done. That I mean even Fefa didlike I said, which is not exactly like your thought leader when it comes toethics, but here we are, but that's all really helpful. I want to get it someat a point that I think the IOC kind of often highlights, which is you knowthat, like yes, there's there's some corruption in the Games. You know. Yes,there are costs to local communities in terms of displacement, but you know youstate yourself. In the book I mean one of your books, your tousand, sixteenbook that that there are more member countries of the IOC than there aremember countries, the United Nations, which is a pretty remarkable thing, andyou know a lot of the most powerful countries of the world as you've talkedabout with China and Russia are anti democratic, they've got abysmal humanrights records. Is there is the IOC to bringing theworld together in a way that even the United Nations can't and that maybesome of those you know this is a little bit of leading question, because Ithink I have. I didn't know how I feel about this, but in a way that, likeeven the United Nations, can't do like, are the tradeoffs worth it well, itsounds like you- and I are both searching for like who could haveleverage and an influence over the international impi commit that canimpose some measure of accountability, and I think you and I are both kind ofhedging toward the United Nations. I mean, after all, they have immenseglobal respect. They have a strong working relationship with theInternational Olympic Committee and they have the moral authority topossibly do something like hold the IOC accountable. What we've seen, though,is that the International Olympic Committee has shown a real deferencefor authoritarian governments and allowed them to engage in what peoplenowadays are calling sports washing, which means basically hosting a sportsmega event like the Olympics, in order to inflect attention away from yourhuman rights violations, and I think that what we've seen in recentyears, around Beijing kind of says it all like the fact it really encompasses.If we go back to that vote in two thousand and fifteen, where theinternational lympic committee hand of two thousand and twenty two winterOlympics to be shing, it encompasses a lot of the themes that we've beentalking about in the sense that, prior to that vote, many cities that wereaspiring for the Olympics from nominal democracies, pulled out either becauseof pressure from the local population, or maybe a movement that was saying weneed to have a referendum and they knew that they would lose the referendum. orit wouldn't look good and they just say: Okay Forget the bid or they had areferendum en and they lost, and that left only two cities in the inthe running Beijing and Al Maticaster. Unfortunately, neither of them areknown as bastions of democracy in the International Lippe Committee went withthe country and the city that they knew, even though they're not like a winterOlympics Center. You know of the world by any means and we might have a wholeton of fake snow and that's not exactly good for the environment and Paragonexample of green washing, but but yeah so like when all these, whenever, likeDemocrat democracy, starts to impose itself on the IOC, they've kind of usedthese countries as an escape valve, if you will avoiding accountability and soon, and so here we are with a situation where you have an obvious human rightsof user in China, that'll be hosting these next Olympics and actually thinkthat that is one of the reasons why we haven't seen more done around humanrights beforehand. I think the International Limpin committies justwaiting they just got to get through those Olympics in veging and thenyou'll notice, hey the very next Olympics in Paris, has human riceprovisions written into the host city contract. So guess what you can writethe host city contract in a way that's more equitable or that meet the kind ofstandards of the international community and different sorts of ways.But but they just say they can't do that until then- and I think it'sbecause they're just trying to get through past Beijing, so yeah, there's,there's both corruption and we've seen that in, like even Salt Lake City andthe horrible bid scandal there were like IOC. Members were getting mereplacements and stuff for their family members and fancy for five hundred andtwenty four oar violins given to them and took us to the Utah Jazz basketballgame. And then we got like legalized...

...corruption. I would call it where it'snot like illegal illegal, but it's definitely unethical all these trendsthat we were just talking about in the Olympic city and so like there's,legalized corruption and illegal corruption and the IO C's kind of beenembracing both of those to put forth this huge mega event over time. I wantto finish with Tokyo, because it's coming up in less than two months, evenbefore the Beijing Games and you've written extensively about it,you have recent outed, the New York Times in the Washington Post, a coved nineteen state of emergency wasrecently extended through January twentieth. The USDA department has a donot travel advisor. He against Japan due to high transmission rates of thevirus, and I want to also touch on the issue of consent, which you brought up.You know pulls have found that more than eighty percent of the Japanesepopulation opposes holding the games this summer, and yet the IOC isinsisting that the Games will go on. Can you talk about that? This powerthat the IOC wheeled over Japan and how this moment might be might be differentin what the lasting legacy of this moment will be. So I think it's verystriking what you're saying about et plus percent of the population. We'venever seen anything like this. This is unparalleled in the political historyof the Olympics, and so yes, I have stated publicly that I believe it's theright thing to do to cancel these Olympics as a global healthconsideration. So I stand with not only the ET plus percent in Japan who do notwant the Olympics there this summer, but I also stand with the medicalprofessionals in Japan and across the world that have not only stated thatthey think it's a bad idea to host an event like this with ninety thousand orso people coming from around the world. It's an optional sporting spectacle,but also have argued that it could actually lead to a super spreader event.Who knows I mean God willing it? It won't, but I mean she she's, quite aquite a risk to be taking for an awesome, wonderful, powerful event.That is also you know optional when it comes to other things here in life.This is an optional sporting spectacle as much as it's meaningful to Olympiansand many other people. Besides that so yeah, I guess I've taken the side ofcaution on this I'll admit. I was a little bit surprised that theInternational Olympic Committee only postponed by one year when they did,and I should point out based on a previous thing, that we were talkingabout that. The only reason they really postponed when they did was becauseathletes were standing up and saying they weren't going to go individualathletes. Then you had like team, USA, swimming and track and field speakingout critically, and then you had the the clutch move by the CanadianNational LYMPIC committee saying they weren't going to go if it was in thesummer quickly followed by Australia, Germany, Porsha and bone, the dominoeswere falling and it just shows a really good example of athlete power, becauseonly a couple days before that Tomas Bach of the International LympicCommittee was saying that the executive board of the of the IO C wasn't evenuttering the words postponement or cancellation well, they starteduttering him because of the fact that Olympian stood up and said Woa. This isdangerous and you're responsible. So I was always kind of surprised that theyonly did it one year and they didn't postpone it two years. After all, theycould have just said. Oh we're tapping into that tradition that we used tohave, or we had both the winter and Summer Olympics in the same year. Iwould have been really easy to justify, but instead they decided to make it oneyear. Well, guess what we're in a situation now, one year later, wherethe cases are actually higher in Japan than they were then much higher and thepopulation is much more against toasting the Olympics than they were intwo thousand and twenty and to foist this event on the population. Justseems unethical to me, and I guess one way I organize it in my head- is you'vegot this state of exception that the international lympic committee thriveson that the Olympics are built on that. It creates this exceptional moment in acity where the normal rules of politics don't apply, and that is in battle withthe literal state of emergency, which you, as you mentioned, is going to getextent. It has been extended through June twentieth and might even beextended further and those two phenomena are sort of clashing andwhoever wins. That battle is going to perhaps determine whether thoseOlympics happen on time or not or whether they push him back another year.The International LYMPIC committee is being very clear: they've taken thepostponement of further postponement off the table and so that pretty muchleaves two choices, cancellation or doing an optional Olympics during apandemic, and I guess I stand with the people of Tokyo and Japan moregenerally, who want to play it safe, who've had relatives who've died fromCorona virus. This is a real thing and are very concerned about a superspreader event. Professor Jewels boy, coff is the chair of Pacificuniversities, politics and government department he's the CO author, so theauthor of numerous books on the Olympics and the politics of sport, oneof the four most experts on the International Olympic Committee andsport as a Deo political force. Professor boy cough. It has been such apleasure to have you as our very first guest of the Global Athlete podcast.It's been an honor, no one. I really appreciate what you're doing. I lookforward to listen to every last episode.

That's a rap for this very firstepisode of the Global Athlete podcast.

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