Tag Archives: Olympics

Google pins its rainbow colours to the mast

googleOver a billion people visit Google every day. Today they will be met by Google’s protest over the violations of gay rights in Russia as the Winter Olympics get underway.

In case the rainbow doodle left you in any doubt, Google then quote the Olympic Charter underneath that states that “every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport without discrimination of any kind”.

Left Foot Forward today have given us ‘5 good reasons why LGBT activists are protesting against Russia‘ – many of which result in the Olympic Charter being little more than an aspiration for an openly gay athletes in Russia.

Google were joined by Channel 4 who also turned their logo rainbow for the day. The TV channel stated that they wanted to wish good luck to all athletes competing at the Games – gay or straight.

Channel 4 rainbow logo for Sochi Winter Olympics
Hynd’s Blog tips its metaphorical hat to Google, Channel 4 and the transformative power of sport.

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Filed under Russia, sexuality, Sport

The Russia Winter Olympics: To boycott or not to boycott

“The victim’s naked body had been dumped in a courtyard in the city of Volgograd. His skull was smashed and he had been raped with beer bottles.”

This is from the latest news report that I have read describing another reportedly homophobic brutal murder in Russia. Sadly, this incident is not an isolated one. It fits into a much wider picture of discrimination and prejudice. A report  from ILGA –Europe measuring everything from hate crime to family recognition found that Russia was the hardest country in Europe in which to be homosexual.

In addition, this summer saw the passing of a law banning, “gay propaganda”. The list of human rights concerns for the LGBT population of Russia could go on and on.

In the past few weeks however, this long-standing blight has been hurtled into the consciousness of the western liberal mind.  The hook of the winter Olympics and the ever contentious issue of boycott has got the chattering classes…well chattering.

For myself, I don’t know what I think about the proposed boycott (although I feel quite comfortable condemning the above mentioned and other human rights abuses).

And so, I thought I would draw your attention to some of the more interesting things I have read and let you make up your own mind. In the meantime, hopefully this process will hopefully help me make up my mind.

No shortage of opinions but still not sure what mine is!

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Filed under Human rights, Russia, Sport

Dear Dave, The Olympics has nothing to do with the ‘Big Society’

Games Makers – having fun

Whether you like it or not, you are now a symbol of volunteering, a community spirited nation – a ‘big society’ if you will.

If you mix volunteering with community spirit and sprinkle on top some hideous corporate sponsorships, what do you get? Games Makers, and according to Cameron, “[an] expression of the Big Society in action”.  McDonald’s helpfully pointed out that we are all (even the helpless small baby staring blankly) ‘making the Games’ – we are all the Big society.

Nearly a quarter of a million of us applied to volunteer at the Olympics (240,000). Out of these 70,000 were selected based on criteria such as a ‘can do attitude’ and being ‘inspirational’ (I wish I had applied now just to have been in the interview, “So Steve, can you give me an example of when you have been inspirational?”).

I wish to take nothing away from the Games Makers though; they have been a great success.  I take my hat off to you all. What I wish to raise here is what, if anything, Games Makers have to do with Dave and Ronald.

Like the weather and other events that have got literally nothing to with politics, politicians have been falling over themselves to associate themselves with this unprecedented wave of positivity associated with the Olympics.  Cameron cannot help himself but to talk about the Big Society. Before the Games even started he commented, “these Games are the biggest and most tangible expression of the Big Society in action”.

I don’t want to poop on Cameron’s party here, but is it not possible they volunteered because they like sport and/or wanted to be involved in a once in a life time event like the Olympics? Just wanting a little bit of fun without much commitment?

Sunny Hundal the Guardian columnist, got a wee bit of a Conservative backlash earlier when he tweeted, “Chances of Olympics volunteers becoming school sports volunteers wildly optimistic. Most did it to get into watch Olympics”. Ooh the skeptic. It makes sense though, doesn’t it?

40% of those who applied to be volunteers had never volunteered before. Something about the Olympics made people give up their time in a way that the WI, Amnesty International or their local youth club didn’t.

Conservative Dan Hannan MEP however was having none of it. He tweeted back to Sunny in a flash saying, “The ones I’ve spoken to were doing it from sheer decency”.

It rather begs the question though, if this ‘sense of decency’ was enough to inspire them to volunteer why had it never ‘inspired’ them in the past. There is no shortage of very ‘decent’ organisations that are desperate for ‘decent’ volunteers.

Like a one night stand the appeal of the volunteering at the Olympics is simple, it is fun and lacks any real long-term commitment.

Without taking anything away from the volunteers, they are certainly not the foundation building blocks for which to construct long-term social projects. They are there for a quick slap and tickle and then they will be back to their 9-5.

In short Dave, I am afraid the success of the Game Makers has nothing to do with your conceptual Big Society and it has everything to do with the excitement of hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world.

Oh and Ronald, you and your friends over at Big Mac HQ, you have nothing to do with sporting excellence either. You’re as transparent as the grease soaked wrapper of one of your burgers.

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Filed under Politics, Social comment, Sport