Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Coming of Age of the Olympic Games


It's hard to resist the temptation of having something to say about the Olympics, now that the summer Olympic Games are here again. Greece holds a special nostalgic place in the circles of the Olympic Games, that have been by tradition, held every four years for both summer and winter, respectively; the reason being, that these games are said to have been inspired by ancient Greek Olympic games. In the midst of accompanying jubilation around these games, Greece is often touted as the "birth place of sports", as particularly exemplified by media talk on those occasions when Greece took on the role as the host nation for the games, like the recent events that took place in Athens eight years ago. Such glorification rarely pay mind to history of organized sports events going even further back in time, as exemplified by those in say, ancient Egypt.

Long before the ancient Greeks, ancient Egyptians had organized athletic events, which involved many of the sport activities that spectators enjoy to this day, like for example, long jump, archery, swimming, wrestling, rowing, fishing, various ball games, running, among others. In this respect, the only glaring difference was that ancient Greek "civilization" comprised of many city-states, from which athletes came, i.e. aside from the other difference pertaining to clothing — unlike the ancient Greek sports, the ancient Egyptians seemed to have kept their clothes on; on the other hand, the ancient Egyptian complex was a centralized polity over a large area much of the time during the dynastic era, although there were periods in the midst, whereby the area was fragmented into either autonomous or quasi-autonomous polities in Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt respectively.


The ancient Egyptians had left behind numerous monuments furnished with artistic themes of organized sports events, indicating that such occasions had strong national significance attached to them. One website on the net notes, for example:

 There are numberless representations on tomb and temple walls, but none is more striking than the oldest document relating to sport. It is a unique mural, not only because of its historical date, but also through its social implications, for it depicts the Pharaoh himself, Zoser the Great, the founder of the third dynasty nearly 3000 years before Christ or about 5000 years ago.

This mural shows Zoser participating in the running programme of the Heb Sed festival, as a symbol of the significance of physical fitness of the Ancient Egyptians.

The artist has brought out, with a thorough knowledge of anatomy, the harmonious play of muscles. The positions of Zoser's arms, trunk and legs denote an expertise of technique and movement which only advanced development can achieve.

Queens were no less aware of the importance of sports in all round culture, for on a wall of her sanctuary in the Karnak Temple, Queen Hatshepsut of the eighteenth dynasty had herself represented in a similar attitude in the Heb Sed.

Hardly any of ancient Egypt's rulers during the thirty centuries under view failed to have themselves depicted as a sporting figure in the Heb Sed festivals.

The most notable instances of this are Seti and his son Ramses second, both of the nineteenth Dynasty, on their temples at Abydos and Abu Simbel respectively.

Another example is the mural of Ramses III of the twentieth Dynasty on the walls of his funerary temple in Medenet Babu.

Fully aware of the invaluable role of sport in raising the standard of health, and hence of national productivity, the Ancient Egyptians as a whole, men, women, youths and children, were all engaged in sporting activities with a zeal which amounted to a cult.

The SAQQARA tombs generally, and tose of PETAH HOTEP and MERIROKE in particular, are show places for children's sports. They contain many illustrations of athletics, wrestling and some other games.

It is difficult to think of a sport which the Ancient Egyptians did not practise. The Benni Hasan rock tombs are a show place for most sports such as: athletics, swimming, wrestling, dancing, gymnastics, hockey, yoga, and many others.

As these notes tacitly indicate, national importance was attached to sports festivals, because the ruling class figured that a strong nation warranted physically fit populace, from which defenders of national sovereignty can be called upon, if circumstances necessitate it. Here is a list of relics showcasing sports events/activities, along with the time frames they are allegedly dated to; the listing of activities is by no means comprehensive:

A. Heb Sed Running:
Zoser, 3rd Dynasty, 2650 B.C. Saqqara
Hatshepsut, 18th Dynasty, 1480 B.C. Karnak
Seti, 19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C. Abydos
Ramses second, 19th Dynasty, 1280 B.C. Abu Simbel
Ramses third, 20th Dynasty, 1180 B.C. Medinet Habu

B. Children Running:
Petah Hotep tomb, 5th Dynasty, 2300 B.C. Saqqara
Mereruke tomb, 6th Dynasty, 2250 B.C. Saqqara

C. High Jumping:
Mereruke tomb, 6th Dynasty, 2250 B.C. Saqqara

Knife Throwing
Mereruke tomb, 6th Dynasty, 2250 B.C. Saqqara

Amenophis Third, 18th Dynasty, 1420 B.C. Luxor Museum
Taharka, 25th Dynasty, 700 B.C. Karnak Temple

Ball Games
Khiti tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Baket tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan

Kheroef tomb, 18th Dynasty, 1500 B.C. Luxor
Boxing cat and mouse, Unknown date, Carlberg Museum

Meriroke tomb, 5th Dynasty, 2300 B.C. Saqqara
Petah Hotep tomb, 6th Dynasty, 2250 B.C. Saqqara
Kheroef tomb, 18th Dynasty, 1500 B.C. Luxor
Ramses tomb, 19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C. Luxor
Ramses III temple, 20th Dynasty, 1100 B.C. Medenithabu

Menu tomb, 5th Dynasty, 2300 B.C. Saqqara
Meruruke, 6th Dynasty, 2250 B.C. Saqqara
Paket tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Khiti tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Hatshepsut sanctuary, 18th Dynasty, 1480 B.C. Karnak Temple
Cairo Museum, 20th Dynasty, 1000 B.C.

Horse Riding
The horse was not native to Egypt, but was introduced by the Hyksos about 1650 B.C.
Horses were used exclusively for drawing war-chariots and wheel-mounted war weapons.
The Egyptians, however, trained that noble animal for riding purposes.
Horemheb tomb, 18th Dynasty, 1900 B.C. Luxor
Cavalry, 18th Dynasty, 1280 B.C. Luxor Temple
Dressage & Side Saddle, 20th Dynasty, 1180 B.C. Medinet Habu
Cavalry, 25th Dynasty, 700 B.C. Louvre Museum

Life Saving
Kadesh Battle, 19th Dynasty, 1300 B.C. Abydos Temple

Weight Lifting
Paket tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan

Free Style, 5th Dynasty, 2400 B.C. Saqqara
Free Style, 6th Dynasty, 2200 B.C. Cairo Museum
All Strokes, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Breast Stroke, 18th Dynasty, 1800 B.C. Metropolitan
Breast Stroke, 18th Dynasty, 1800 B.C. Louvre Museum
Free Style, 18th Dynasty, 1800 B.C. Pushkin Museum
Breast Stroke, 20th Dynasty, 1100 B.C. Turin Museum
Swimming, 600 B.C. Cairo Museum

Petah Hotep tomb, 5th Dynasty, 2300 B.C. Saqqara
Paket tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Khiti tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Brussels Museum, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan
Tell Elamarna, 18th Dynasty, 1500 B.C. Benihasan
Cairo Museum, 20th Dynasty, 1000 B.C. Benihasan
Ramses Funeral Temple, 20th Dynasty, 1000 B.C. Medinet Habu

Petah Hotep tomb, 5th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Saqqara
Khiti tomb, 11th Dynasty, 2000 B.C. Benihasan

The UK-based site, care of the International Olympic Academy, goes onto note that:

Sports Competitions

Sports were not simply enthusiastically practised on a universal scale, but competitions and championships were also organised.

International competitions were held and great store was set by the impartiality of Referees. For international competitions, umpires from different countries used to judge the games.

1. Ramses III Funeral Temple, 20th Dynasty, 1000 B.C. Medinet Habu


There is a theory, in fact, that the Ancient Egyptians began the custom of holding international games regularly at Akhmem in Upper Egypt.

It is my hope that the research of scholars in Akhmem will shed more light on this subject.

Last, but not least, it remains to be said that in Egypt, sport was born and flourished, and from there spread to Greece, Rome and to the rest of the world. - Courtesy

The author of these lines noticeably maintains that sports games were not simply relegated to locals, but that games geared towards international competitors were also organized, and it would appear that the author offers the Ramses III Funeral Temple as an exemplary evidence of these allegations. The author does however, admit that more research would be required to establish the prospect of international games being frequently held at Akhmem.

For those who might be wary about information from a single source, consider the following from what used to be the Tour Egypt webpage, which has since changed its web address [many of its publications can still be accessed in the archives]:

Ancient Egyptian Sports

Many of today's sports were practiced by the Ancient Egyptians, who set the rules and regulations for them. Inscriptions on monuments indicate that they practiced wrestling, weightlifting, long jump, swimming, rowing, shooting, fishing and athletics, as well as various kinds of ball games.

Ancient Egyptian kings, princes and statesmen were keen on attending sports competitions, which they encouraged and provided with the necessary equipment

Drawings on pharaonic monuments tell us that several thousand years ago, the Egyptians had laid down basic rules for games, chosen a neutral referee, a uniform for players, and a means of announcing the winners by awarding them different collars

Both winner and loser were met with ovation, the first for his superiority and the latter for his sporting spirit. - courtesy of

Below, are ancient Egyptian iconography of the sorts of sports enjoyed by spectators; click on all images for higher resolution:

Image captions, courtesy of Click here!

Material from both cited material show that national significance was attached to athleticism, and associated sport games, so much so, that the ruling class attended, and/or even took part in, the games themselves. Whereas in modern Olympic games, different color medals are the choice of awards, the ancient Egyptians made use of "different collars"; different material, but essentially the same concept. It is refreshing to see a "western"-based outlet, as that cited material from the University of Leeds webpage exemplifies, recognize the pioneering role of the ancient Egyptian complex in the world of sport games, that is to say — contribution of a culture outside of Europe.

So as we can see from material just presented, sport games go way back, and just as the modern Olympic games are heavily political, with heavy interference by ruling classes of participating nations from behind the scenes, ancient Egyptian ruling circles also closely followed, interfered in, and sanctioned sport games

Undoubtedly, the Olympic games provide entertainment to sport fans world over, and they provide an avenue to showcase human achievement by individual athletes. Let's face it however, that at the same time the games have served primarily to stoke the egos of ruling classes of the participating nations, as another item in their political treasure chest box to polish their geopolitical prestige.

At another level, these games have also served as a platform for individual athletes to stoke their egos, albeit in a comparatively less harmful manner; for many individual athletes, it is to be expected that they see their achievements in these venues as the "fruits" of their aspirations and hard work. It has gotten to a point where unnecessarily-excessive showboating by individual athletes has become a common place in these games.

There were moments in time, in a yesteryear, when such conduct by athletes would send off criticism by elements within media circles and by spectators, but now it has become such a familiar sight, that nobody seems to pay any mind. Think for example, of Usain Bolt's frequent post/pre-sprint wild dance gestures towards the crowds, chest-beating or hand gestures near the finish line, Maurice Greene's taunting of other sprinters with hand gestures, egging his rivals to catch up even before he made it to the finish line, as did hurdler James Carver in the 2000 games[1], not to forget Greene's, Jon Drummond's, Brian Lewis' and Bernard Williams' flexing of muscles before the cameras, in the aftermath of their 2000 Olympics 4x100 meter relay win[2], Chinese swimmer Sun Yang roaring and violently pounding the water with his fists upon winning in this year's Olympics, the U.S. basket ball Dream Team's habit of taunting opponents, swimmer Amy Van Dyken's repeated spitting in the lanes of her opponents [3], or perhaps Emma Snowsill's grabbing and waving of the flag before approaching the finish line[4].

This year's British 10,000 gold medal winner Mo Farah's "Mo-bot" pose may even be considered a form of showboating, as perhaps the celebratory finger-pointing upward of several athletes after winning [like those of U.S.'s Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps, Britain's Andy Murray or Andrew Osagie, Ukraine's Hannah Knyazyeva, Kenya's Ezekeil Kemboi, Germany's Robert Harting, to name a few] but a relatively low-key form of showboating.

Some of these celebratory gestures are clearly more over-the-top and gratuitous than others, but all point to the emotional desire of individuals to satisfy self-worth, and yearning the attention of a crowd to meet that end. To put it simply, these games serve as an opportunity for individual athletes to psychologically elevate themselves, and to apply their achievements in these games as validation of their self-worth. If that does not ultimately revolve around ego-building, then what is? There is nothing wrong with that per se, but let's be real and call it what it is.

Now of course, if asked, most athletes will try to hide this reality, by simply saying that they are "doing it for their country", and that this is the reason they are taking part in the games. It may well be the case that many of these athletes are "doing it for [the national prestige of] their respective nations", not leaving out the possibly genuine longing of some to improve their economic status, but any of those matters may only be just a partial reason, and not necessarily the primary one, as many athletes will have viewers believe, which then brings us to the issue of nationalism.

Some among us have figured that the Olympic games stand for peace, since they appear to bring together athletes and spectators from different corners of the globe, but the reality remains that the games strongly push for nationalism, which is a concept that only keeps people divided. These sport games urge people to root for only those of the same nationality; when people are primarily rooting for their fellow citizens, against those of another citizenry, they cannot possibly be encouraging unity and solidarity.

Merely being in the same space does not necessarily render the social relations "peaceful". Rather, the Olympic games encourage antagonistic social relations between differing nationalities, and this does not require people fire guns at each other, for such to be the case. In fact, the Olympic games have proven to be yet another battleground for proxy wars by competing geopolitical rivals. For instance, over the years, a number of countries have boycotted the games, because one or another of their hated geopolitical rival/opponent was taking part in the games; that can hardly be considered as a gesture towards peace.

In the most recent games for example, the Olympics has essentially served as an avenue for proxy wars between the U.S. and China, in the form of the so-called "medal count", as the overseeing authorities of each country closely monitored and compared their accumulative "medal count" against their main geopolitical rivals or opponents, and hence sought to push their athletes to drive up the "medal count", particularly with a view to overthrow their arch geopolitical rival in "medal count".  Indeed, this not a "hot war" and appears harmless at first sight, and so, must be seen as part of a "cold war".

Alternative to an all-out boycott, some countries simply opted to skip a particular contest that was supposed to happen directly between athletes of geopolitical opponents/rivals. For instance, in the latest Olympic games [at the time of this writing], Iran chose to have its athletes withdraw from contests with Israeli athletes. Furthermore, even as the Olympic games are taking place, war of words are taking place between Iranian, Israeli, and certain "western" ruling classes, not to mention behind-the-scenes preparations for military conflict. The Olympic games do not placate these situations.

Even the beginnings of the modern Olympic games demonstrate anything but peaceful calculations. The first one of these games, 1896, only involved 12 sovereign nations, which all happened to be imperialist nations of the "west"; needless to say, only white males were participants of these games, which can hardly be an indicator of diversity. Women did not reportedly take part until the Paris games. Who could forget Hitler's attitude towards U.S. athlete Jesse Owens, not leaving out Owen's alleged cold reception by the then American president, Roosevelt (FDR) himself, upon the former's returning home from the 1936 Berlin summer Olympic games? Reportedly, Owens noted at the time:

"Hitler didn't snub me – it was FDR who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram." - courtesy of Jeremy Schaap (2007), Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics.

Owens was reportedly also given a cold shoulder by the succeeding American president, Harry Truman. One also need not overlook that Baron Pierre de Courbertin, who founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and is often credited with "reviving" the Olympic games in modern times, reportedly noted that his motivation for this endeavor had little to do with the idea that organized sports inspired individual "moral and social strength", as opposed to getting French men physically prepared to "fight and win wars" [5].

Just as the ancient sport games served as vehicles for intensifying nationalistic sentiments and for empowering national interests, the modern Olympic games have been used towards the same ends. Only now, the Olympic games have become ever more commercialized. Larry Roberts of the World Socialist Website partly attributes the aforementioned increasing tendency towards excessive acts of showboating to the commercialization of organized sports, he notes as follows:

Commercialization of sport, even so-called “amateur” sport, has also developed apace. The best known athletes in the US rake in millions, even tens of millions of dollars a year. All this has helped produce among many sports figures—who are not encouraged to be thoughtful at the best of times—extraordinary arrogance and selfishness, as well as patriotism and chauvinism, which have the additional benefit of being bankable in the current climate.

A graphic example of this tendency was revealed in an article published in June in the Washington Post about HSI, a sports group which has attracted some of the biggest names in track and field. Greene and his fellow sprinters belong to HSI, as does sprinter Ato Bolton of Trinidad. The group's philosophy is the “brash in-your-face” outlook that has become popular in American sports.

The “H” and “S” in the organization's name come from the two founders of the group, attorney and business agent Emmanuel K. Hudson and track coach John Smith.

The Post article makes it clear that preening and strutting have been long-standing practices of the group, practiced in an attempt to intimidate and demean rivals. “‘There's a certain attitude you have to have even to be a member of HSI,' stated Jon Drummond.”

At several meets this year, including the June event at which Greene set a new record in the 100 meter dash, HSI sprinters have draped HSI flags around them as they glare and trash-talk other runners. Hudson admitted that while other athletes do not like their antics, he and Smith encourage it. “We don't apologize at all,” he said.

Over-aggrandizing & glorification and prepping the brand image of certain high performing athletes by those within media circles, as way to make such athletes into "bankable" figures of commercial interests, as usually demonstrated by post-games multi-million dollar "endorsements", do not help in placating the creation of the environment which breeds the culture of "extraordinary arrogance and selfishness, as well as patriotism and chauvinism among many sports figures" either. A fairly recent example of this comes in the form of over-celebration of the person of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps in this year's Olympic games (2012) by those in the media.

Accordingly, Phelps is anointed by media personalities as not only the "most decorated Olympian", but also the "greatest all around Olympian". Certainly a case can be made that the swimmer is the "greatest swimmer" to date, or that he is the "most decorated Olympian", but to bestow the title of the "greatest Olympian" on the athletes is a stretch. Do these media personalities realize just how many different sport disciplines are currently held in the Olympics? Since when did swimming trump all the other disciplines?

When pressed on this logic of anointing a single individual athlete with the title of the "greatest Olympian", the only rationale offered is that made around the "amount of medals" won by the athlete. Never mind the prospect that Phelps would not be able to do well in other sports disciplines outside of swimming, or that there are other sports disciplines which are much more complex than swimming. Nor does every discipline make it feasible to win as many medals within individual biennially-held Olympic games. The very multi-faceted nature of the Olympic games makes it impossible to have an "all around greatest Olympian". A marathon runner, or a gymnast, for instance, is unlikely to have an opportunity to win as many medals as that made possible in swimming contests. Are we then to say a highly decorated swimmer's achievements trump the achievements of the greats in those fields, supposedly because they are not as decorated? In what objectively rational world does that make sense? This is the sort of thing that contributes to the culture of "arrogance and selfishness" and chauvinism. The desire to get such recognition by athletes, which comes with huge monetary rewards, has caused organized sports to be plagued with use of "enhance-performing drugs" over the ages.

Commercialization of the Olympics has reached a point, whereby now exclusive rights are only given to a few big business entities, i.e. the business community of "sponsors". Even the familiar Olympic logo sporting rings is now sold to a few big players in the business community during the Olympic games, rendering whomever utilizes it outside of that, subject to legal penalty. Paul Stuart of the World Social Website tells us that:

A butcher who displayed sausage links in the shape of the Olympic rings was visited and told to remove the display. A sandwich shop in Plymouth advertising a “flaming torch baguette” was ordered to remove it from the menu. The owner of an old café, called the Olympic Café, in Stratford, the borough in which the Olympic Park is based, was forced to change its name. He was reduced to painting out the O.

McDonald's was reportedly given exclusive rights to food distribution in the Olympic arenas; this means spectators are compelled to buy all their food needs from McDonald's, as no other option is made available.

For their sponsorship money McDonald’s have built inside the Olympic park their biggest outlet in the world—3,000 square feet, two floors—expected to serve 1,200 customers per hour. It is the only branded cooked food product that can be sold at Olympic venues. McDonald’s also secured exclusive rights to sell chips/fries—banning 800 other retailers from doing so. It evoked so much opposition—including an injunction that fish and chips must be sold together to avoid the ban—that the rules had to be relaxed.

Likewise, Visa was given exclusive rights over the Olympic system of payment, compelling spectators in the Olympic premises to "only use Visa cash card points"...

As a result 80,000 spectators attending the Team GB soccer match against United Arab Emirates at Wembley in London found they could not buy food or drink, after the Visa payment system at the stadium crashed.

The "brand policing" has even been extended to internet social media...

Spectators have been warned not to upload pictures onto Youtube or Facebook from inside the Olympic park. This warning has been extended to athletes, who have been banned from posting messages from the Olympic park thanking their sponsors.

In a new departure the IOC has made an agreement with Twitter to remove postings that contravene the LOPGA 2006. They are working to extend their reach through other social media sites.

So, how were these Olympic-related exclusive rights over sales of products enforced? Read on:

Soon after London won the Olympic bid in July 2005, the Labour government agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as part of the Host City Contract, to pass through parliament the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act (LOPGA) 2006. This expanded the Olympic Symbols Act of 1995 and provides a specific legal framework to prevent sponsors’ competitors from gaining any advantage from the games.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) and the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) had to present the IOC with an anti-“ambush marketing” plan, issuing a list of symbols and combinations of words that are banned for use except by official sponsors. These include “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “summer”, “2012” and “London”!

This will be enforced by a special squad of 300 uniformed “brand police” who began operations all over Britain on July 16. Recruited from local councils across the country, they can enter premises and take offenders to court, with fines up to £20,000. Paul Jordan, an expert in brand protection at Bristows solicitors, remarked, “No other brands would have people walking the streets being their eyes and ears, protecting their interests.”

A further 400 trading standards officers are being mobilised in all London’s 32 boroughs, as well as an unnamed number of LOCOG staff working with police and trading standards officers. Victims of the “brand police” describe the level of monitoring as akin to a “police state”, especially those located in and around Olympic venues.

Speaking of "police state", the Olympic games has certainly become a highly militarized zone,

"More soldiers stood watch behind gravel blast barriers, the kind used at military outposts in places like Afghanistan, and only rarely in places like civilized central London.

The military presence at the Olympic Park is hard to miss and is but one aspect of the super security, readiness concerns and political tensions that are dominating the run-up to this event...

Soldiers are now operating the X-ray scanners and metal detectors at the International Media Centre and men and women in fatigues are everywhere around the Games site.

Add to this the 5000-volt electrified fence (17.5 kilometres) that surrounds the Olympic Park, the ever-growing reach of the closed-circuit TV cameras that constantly watch over Britain's capital, and the plans to put as many as six surface-to-air missile batteries atop downtown buildings, and it is hard not to think of London right now as a city under siege."

"The military has set up camp in an abandoned shopping centre in East London, near the Olympic park, installing beds and showers for some of the additional 3,500 troops — almost as many as Britain deployed in Afghanistan — who have been quickly called into service.

They are part of a 50,000-plus security force that includes police, the army and private contactors — the latter part of a multi-billion-dollar firm with mucho egg on its face.

Olympic organizers were forced to call on more troops only days ago when the security firm G4S admitted it could hire and train fewer than half the 10,000 security guards it had promised to patrol and protect the venues." - Tom Parry, CBC News, July 23, 2012.

There's more...

It's not just been outside the stadium where the military has been drafted in to help. Embarrassed by empty seats at venues, it was to the military that Olympic organizers turned again, and the sight of uniformed service personnel in the seats cheering has helped to pump up the mood. -Reuters, Wednesday Aug 8, 2012.

On those vast spaces of empty seats in the stadium, we are told:

Sponsors have paid £1.4 billion of the £11.4 billion games budget. In return they have secured an economic dictatorship at Olympic venues and external trading zones around main venues. They also insisted on and received large corporate hospitality ticket allocations. A lot of this seating has remained empty, leaving embarrassing gaps in stadiums infuriating genuine sports fans unable to secure tickets. - Paul Stuart, WSWS, 2 August 2012.

London residents had expressed concerns about the heavy-handed military presence and about the prospect of being targeted as terrorists:

"It is a sight which many older generations thought they would never see in this country again.

Soldiers in residential tower blocks and green open spaces were yesterday pictured installing surface-to-air missiles at six sites across the capital, a show of strength not seen in this country since the Second World War...

Residents this week lost their bid to force a judicial review into the decision to deploy the air defences above their heads.

The tenants fear the move could make them a terrorist target but security chiefs say there is 'no credible threat' and the siting of the missiles is 'proportionate'...

The security plan includes a helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, being moored in the River Thames, with RAF Typhoon jets stationed ready at RAF Northolt and Puma helicopters at a Territorial Army centre in Ilford." - by Anthony Bond and Ian Drury, Daily Mail - UK, 12 July 2012.

Just to get a grip on how heavy-handed the military presence was at the Olympic games, here's a visual aid, courtesy of the Daily Mail; click on the image for greater resolution:
Schematic of military presence at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The powers-that-be would like the general public to think that the Olympic games are unique and brief moments of peace and unity among humankind, but these developments put such perceptions to question!


Organized sports has long been a nationalistic affair that ruling elites have used as both a show of national prestige and strength for the benefit of their would-be geopolitical rivals, and to cloak host nation's or participating nation's citizenry with patriotism and chauvinism, which would supposedly help keep the general public at bay and be less inclined to challenge the preexisting social order. The modern Olympic games, which are supposed to revive ancient Greek Olympics, are no different in this regard. This tradition actually goes further back in time, long before there was an ancient Greek "civilization", even though 'western' countries have the habit of starting almost any history of human achievement with the ancient Greeks.

The ancient Egyptians for instance, had been organizing sport games, for both international contests and just-for-locals games, before anything called ancient Greek civilization appears in historical record. Some have sought to blunt the pioneering role of ancient Egyptians in organized sports, by trying to find what was supposedly missing in their games and drawing misleading conclusions thereof; for instance, one article dated to July 25, 2007, noted:

"It sounds like a very interesting discovery. The Egyptians did play sports and games, although not team games as we play today. They also played a miniature form of marbles — rolling marbles between posts — which sounds relevant here," Tyldesley told Discovery News." - courtesy of Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News.

...which isn't supported by prevailing evidence, as the aforementioned list of iconography on monuments attest to; such iconography feature team sports like rowing, tug of war, handball, to name a few.

The organized sport games in ancient Egyptian were also perceived as vehicles for propping up national prestige and security. Material left on monuments suggest that Pharaohs and elements of the ruling class were regular attendees to these organized games, if not participants themselves. While such social aspects have in some form or another stayed with organized sports in modern times, organized sports have become heavily commercialized, as the Olympic games exemplify. The nationalist tendencies of organized sports already compromise the supposed "unifying' and "peaceful" integrity of Olympic games, and so, commercialization only further erodes the contributing potential of the Olympics to humanity. If anything, ever-increasing commercialization has impeded civil liberties which spectators look forward to, and take for granted that they will enjoy, when they come to the Olympic premise to watch the games.

Far from demonstrating a moment of peace, the modern Olympic games have through out their existence served as battlegrounds of proxy wars between geopolitical opponents. We've seen or heard about plenty of boycotts of the Olympic games, acts of racism, athletes compelled to skip games involving rival athletes associated with a geopolitical opponent, not leaving out the "medal count" race that elements within the U.S. — or other parts of the "west" and probably elsewhere — engage in, with respect to their geopolitical rivals/opponents. If there is anything else that is evident about the superficial nature of the "peacefulness" of the Olympic games, it is the increasing heavy-handed militarization of Olympic premises.

Troops in military fatigue, numbering in the thousands, along with military hardware only seen in hot war zones, have now become a sight at the Olympic games, as the 2012 London games quintessentially exemplify, and London will not be the last to have this sort of arrangement. Look forward to more militarized Olympic games in the future!

*Contents may be revised or augmented if and when additional information surfaces.
* References and notes:

 —History of Sports in Ancient Egypt, by Mr Ahmed D. Touny (Egyptian) of the International Olympic Academy, c/o Leeds University, UK.

Ancient Egyptian Sports, courtesy of website.

— [1], [2] & [3] > The 2000 Olympics: a comment on the behavior of the US sprinters, by Larry Roberts, WSWS, 25 October 2000.

— [4] > Was Bolt celebration over the top?, by Sean Maguire, Reuters, August 8 2008.

— [5] > The London Olympics and the social crisis, by Chris Marsden, WSWS, 4 August 2012.

— Corporate sponsors tighten grip on the Olympics, by Paul Stuart, WSWS, 2 August 2012.

— London Olympics hit by super security, by Tom Parry, CBC News, July 23 2012.

UK troops win over spectators at Olympic venues, Reuters, Wednesday Aug 8, 2012.

Armed and ready: For the first time since the Second World War, London's green space is transformed by anti-aircraft guns for Olympic ring of steel, by Anthony Bond and Ian Drury, Daily Mail -UK website, 12 July 2012.

Bowling Invented in Ancient Egypt?, by Rossella Lorenzi, Discovery News, July 25, 2007.

Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics, by Jeremy Schaap (2007), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - UK, ISBN 978-0-618-68822-7.

London 2012: Victorious Olympic sports stars point to the sky - pics, courtesy of Digital Spy - UK, August 2012.

—*Personal notes from August 2004, September & November 2007, and August 2012.


Mystery Solver said...

Apparently, MSN has censored the following paragraph/comment highlighted in bold, with respect to their article titled, NO LONDON MEDAL FOR PISTORIUS -- by MSN, Foxsports website, AUG 10, 2012...about a South African amputee, Oscar Pistorius, nicknamed “Blade runner”, because it puts the Olympic games and their media accomplices to additional scrutiny, with regards to standards applied by the Olympic committees (both the IOC and the IPC):

"It's about the standards of the Olympics, not merely the Olympian. It appears that Pistorius' entrance into the summer Olympics was rejected by organizers of the game in the past, but now he is allowed into the games. What happened between then and now, that changed such that we see different decisions by the Olympic organizers? What does this now mean for the rules of the Olympics going forward? Will more "disabled" people come forward to compete with "able-bodied" Olympians, now that they've seen what Pistorius has been able to do? And if so, does the IOC or whichever Olympic entity is responsible, draw a line between those "disabled" Olympian who are allowed to and those who aren't; where is that line drawn? [And I’m not looking for ambiguous emotional answers which take it for granted that some rational line has been drawn, without providing *specifics* thereof!]

I heard that Pistorius will also be taking part in the upcoming “Paralympics” in August 29, courtesy of NBC--which is given an exclusive rights” over TV coverage of the summer Olympic games. Now, for all we know, the “able-bodied” Olympians do not get a chance to make up for their shortcomings in the current games until next 4 years. What does that mean? It means that if you are an “able-bodied” Olympian, once you have “screwed-up” and the summer games are over, then you’ll have to wait for 4 years!...BUT, Pistorius gets a chance to make up for his shortcomings in a much shorter amount of time, because well, the summer Olympic and Paralympic games are only days/weeks apart. Fair?"

The above notes do keep in mind that the IOC and the IPC coordinate their activities as follows:

London 2012 is the first Games where the planning for both the Olympics and Paralympics has been fully integrated from the outset, reflecting Britain’s determination that the Games will set new standards for services, facilities and opportunities for disabled people. - Courtesy of Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s website,, UK.

This sort of censorship further underscores the reality that these news/media outlets are not true journalistic concerns, but merely propaganda machines of the ruling and financial aristocracy.

Mystery Solver said...

Here is an interesting article that fits in some of the content already noted in the blog entry at hand:

Unauthorized batch of condoms finds its way into the Olympic Village

By Steve DelVecchio August 9, 2012.

The International Olympic Committee takes branding and sponsorship very, very seriously. During the Olympic Games, athletes aren’t even allowed to appear in advertisements for companies that are not official Olympic sponsors. Simply put, they want as close to 100% of the control over marketing as they can possibly have. Apparently that goes for condoms as well.

The photo that you see above was tweeted by Australian BMX cyclist Caroline Buchanan. As you can see, it shows a bucket of condoms with a clever tag line of “Kangaroo condoms, for the gland down under.” The problem is the condoms were not made by Durex, which is the official condom supplier for the London Olympics. Yes, they have one of those.

We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier,” a spokeswoman for the London Olympic organizers told the Guardian.

The condoms in the quirky basket were produced by Durex rival company Ansell Ltd. from Australia and the privately-owned British firm Pasante. Spokespeople from those companies said they have no association with the London Olympics and suggested it could be a prank. If not, it’s tremendous guerilla advertising.

While it may sound strange that an “unauthorized” bucket of condoms could cause this much of a stir, we’re used to it by now. Durex provided 150,000 free condoms in dispensers around the Olympic Village for the 10,000-plus athletes taking part in the Games. In Vancouver, the Olympic Village required an emergency shipment of condoms because the athletes blew threw the original supply. As Hope Solo could tell you in detail, sex in the Olympic Village is big business. Might as well make it safe.
- courtesy of Larry Brown Sports website.