Showing posts with label Olympic Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Olympic Games. Show all posts

Friday, April 06, 2012

Olympic Holocaust Deniers

We have all heard of the Jewish Holocaust - of the Armenian holocaust by the Turks, and through history there were many other such genocides.

Circassians have been outraged by the selection of Sochi, a Russian resort city on the Black Sea, to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Sochi was the site of the Circassian capital and the area where the Ubykh tribe made the Circassian "last stand" in 1864. The Olympics will be held on the 150th anniversary of these mass killings. The Sochi Olympics, in other words, will be played on a gigantic graveyard.

The Circassians are a mostly Muslim people who self-identify as Adyghe. The traditionally nomadic Circassians were organised into tribes and clans and lived by a code of behaviour known as khabza, which stressed honour, hospitality, respect for elders, egalitarianism and liberty. This ethos helped the Circassians, renowned for their warrior prowess, to successfully defeat every major power that passed through their mountainous region, including the armies of Attila the Hun and the Mongols. Khabza would also allow the Circassians to preserve their identity through the anguish and turmoil of exile. Circassians dominated the ranks of the Mamluks, a caste of elite soldiers who were taken from the Caucuses and dispatched across the Muslim world. In the 18th century, Russia acted to exert direct control over Circassia by military conquest and was met with fierce resistance. Over time, the Circassian tribes began to more efficiently organise and formally declared Circassian independence, which was recognised by Britain in 1838. By the 1860s, however, the Circassians proved unable to hold out any longer against an expanding Imperial Russia who coveted their mountainous homeland. One by one, the Circassian tribes were decimated with thousands killed, their lands settled by Cossacks, Slavs and others.

The Circassians fought so tenaciously that the Russians decided to remove them, either by death or deportation. The Circassians describe this operation as the first modern genocide. Of a population of 2.5-3 million Circassians, the Circassians told us, around 1.5 million were killed and roughly the same number expelled, of which around half died within months of famine and disease. These figures were corroborated by many scholars from around the world. Only a very small number of Circassians survived in the Caucuses and today, 90 per cent of the world's 5-6 million Circassians live in the global diaspora, while around 700,000 are split between three Russian republics.

Similar to the Turkish denial of the Armenian holocaust, the Russian government does not appear to recognise that a genocide occurred. When President Vladimir Putin gave his speech to the International Olympic Committee in 2007 to secure Russia's bid, he described Sochi as a place inhabited by ancient Greeks with no mention of the Circassians. Putin has renewed policies to curb the expression of Circassian culture, prohibiting schools from teaching the language and restricting Circassian language media. Circassians also faced restrictions on travel between the republics, which required permits that were often difficult to obtain.

A country that gives the most rights to Circassians is Israel, where they are allowed to preserve every single aspect of identity. Perhaps, they remember with gratitude the protection the Circassians gave their Jewish communities during the Second World War when Hitler's Nazis hunted them down.

Georgia has given Circassians refugee status and has officially recognised that the Russian actions in the 19th century constituted genocide. Georgia will be the first country to build a commemorative monument to the Circassian genocide to be unveiled this May at the anniversary of the Sochi massacre.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The human price of the Games

From previous posts it can be guessed that some members of the Socialist Courier blog are no fans of the Olympic Games charade and another story highlights the hypocrisy of it .

In Hebei province, almost 80 billion gallons of emergency water is being sent to the capital through a series of canals hastily built over the past few months so to provide for the Games needs . The construction has displaced farmers, leaving some patches of land so parched that it's difficult for them to grow anything. Shortly after 2002, the central government approved a water diversion project aimed at relieving shortages in Beijing and other parts of the arid north by moving water from the Yangtze, the country's longest river. Two months ago, local authorities cut off access to the mountain reservoir, explaining the water was being saved for the Olympics. Such projects have caused a rift between Beijing and neighboring provinces, including Hebei and Shaanxi. Local officials warned of social upheaval and environmental consequences. But the central government proceeded anyway.Shanxi province, a major coal-producing region, can't even get permission to use the coal it needs. Instead, the resources are being earmarked for Beijing, exacerbating power shortages and resulting in massive blackouts in rural areas.

At the Tianjin port southeast of Beijing, usually one of the busiest in the country, empty ships wait for deliveries from suppliers whose trucks have been held up by roadblocks or whose factories have been closed out of concerns about pollution. With factories shut down, armies of migrant workers who rely on construction and other menial jobs are being sent home for the month without pay. Security concerns during the Games led authorities to prohibit the export of batteries and chemical products, he said; it's hard to get new supplies because factories are closed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The price of gold and fame

Olympic athletes appear the peak of physical form, youthful, muscled and lean, but many push themselves to play through pain, undergo multiple operations, and often end up with the knees or hips of people twice their age. And for younger athletes, who tend to be disproportionately female, there are yet more health issues related to intense training before bodies are fully developed.

For younger competitors, the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidance on sport suggests that it is unhealthy for children under the age of 12 or 13 to specialise in any one activity.
Yet most young athletes, notably gymnasts, whose balance and flexibility is affected as their bodies develop, are training intensively by eight or 10.
Low body fat can mean late puberty for girls, which in turn can lead to lower bone density and risks like stress fractures and osteoporosis.
"You see people of 16 or 17 years old with the bones of a 60 or 70-year-old," said Jordan Metzl, a physician and co-founder of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

There is little promotion of sport for ordinary people at the Olympics, no halfway ground between athletes driving their bodies to their limits and spectators chomping fast food in the stands while they watch. Some suggest that athletes are also more susceptible to eating disorders, whether in "aesthetic sports" like gymnastics or diving, or those like wrestling, where diuretics are common.

Some personalities, driven by the hope of one last triumph, are also less likely to stop when they should as the financial rewards of success ratchet up.
After the 2004 Games in Athens, veteran Russian diver Dmitry Sautin said it was likely his last Olympics.
"My body has suffered a lot of scars, lots of operations. My health isn't what it used to be," he said. But the 34-year-old was back in Beijing, where he finished fourth in the three-metre springboard final.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

London Olympic Games

The Times reports that the International Olympic Committee’s demand for more than 3,000 chauffeur-driven cars for dignitaries, officials and corporate sponsors. The requirement for a fleet of VIP cars is part of the IOC’s contract with London. The contract is being kept secret at the insistence of the IOC.

These cars will have access to a network of dedicated lanes, which will be closed to other traffic for up to two months. Up to 3,000 sets of traffic lights will also be adjusted to ensure that the IOC’s fleet has fast access to all venues.

The IOC insists it need these cars, and in addition the 110 IOC members, 400 presidents and secretary-generals from the Olympic committees of the 200 competing nations and 450 senior executives from corporate sponsors will also receive free access to public transport .
None of the 10,500 athletes will have access to the 3,145 cars and will instead travel on a dedicated fleet of coaches. Apart from a small number of disabled parking spaces there will be no car parking available for the general public at the venues .

Dee Doocey, the assembly member who chairs the committee scrutinising the Olympics, said:

“You can’t tell Londoners to travel by public transport, yet at the same time kick them off their roads so that VIPs can be whisked around in chauffeur-driven limousines. This is one rule for the haves, and another for the have-nots.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Olympic Misery

According to the Olympic Charter, established by Pierre de Coubertin, the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world yet The Independent is reporting about the human cost of the upcoming Beijing Games .

Many people have been forcibly resettled in the transformation of Beijing, which has seen ancient courtyard houses and hutong alleys demolished by unscrupulous developers, some in league with corrupt officials, eager for profit.
The Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions reckons 1.5 million people will have been relocated for Olympics- related projects. Government estimates put the figure at just over 6,000. A strange discrepency of figures .

Most are moved to new tower blocks on the city outskirts, and they complain about the lack of community feeling - as well as the lengthy commute to their jobs in the city.