Far from embodying some timeless ‘Olympic spirit’, the 2012 Games reflect the injustice and inequality of the current economic system.Long before John Carlos stood beside Tommie Smith to give their famous clenched-fist salutes on the podium at the 1968 Olympics, he was a boy growing up in Harlem. ‘When I first learned about the existence of the Olympics,’ he recalls, ‘my reaction was different from anything I had ever felt when listening to baseball or basketball or football or any of the sports that I’d seen people play in the neighbourhood. The sheer variety of sports, the idea of the finest athletes from around the globe gathering and representing their countries: it was different, and the fact that it was every four years made it feel like an extra kind of special.’
The origins of the Olympic wonder lie in International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin’s struggle with the French sporting authorities, and in the Olympic Charter, with its promises ‘to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity’.
The London Olympics have always had a much narrower set of ambitions. One of the five promises made in the original Olympic bid was: ‘To demonstrate that the UK is a creative, inclusive and welcoming place to live in, to visit and for business.’
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By: David Renton (Red Pepper)