Friday, August 3, 2012

The other Olympians

One hates to be a killjoy & a wet blanket about the Olympic games--but I don’t hate it enough to refrain from voicing my criticisms. Sure enough, the games showcase superb athleticism from people around the world & that’s a thing worth watching. But as the Bhopal activists have made so clear, the Olympic committees are drenched in reactionary, corporate politics which can accommodate German fascism & corporate criminality but not human rights at any time. There is another thing about the games that rankles. It’s their phony internationalism & exclusionary, elitist character, i.e., the notion that athletic achievement is exceptional & not available to those without family wealth to bankroll years of training or corporate sponsorship. There were no sports programs for girls when I was growing up but I saw my younger sisters & their generation become accomplished athletes in several sports as a result of the work done by my generation of feminists. I felt proud of them for their athleticism & proud of my generation for the political commitments that made them possible. So in the spirit--not of long-simmering resentments--but pride & inclusion, here are photos of people from around the world (Brazil, Ethiopia, Australia, Mexico, Papua, Mongolia, Malaysia, Thailand) exhibiting their skills in archery, running, diving, swimming, equestrianism, canoeing, acrobatics. Athletics are integrated into their lives & livelihood, prowess is universal & point to the possibilities in all of us if opportunity is available. Here a young boy from the Bajau people (who migrated from the Philippines to Malaysia) is pulled through the South China Sea by a shark. The Bajau spend most of their time at sea, are submerged up to 60% of the time, & in a free-dive can hold their breath up to three minutes. Please look at the rest of the album for photos of athletic prowess in other places. (Photo by James Morgan/Survival International)

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