And we know how those tend to be built…
This post is an example of my newsletter of curiosities & curations,Waterman’s Fortnightly. You can can subscribe at tinyletter.com/stuartw.
- “How did we traverse the nation with a railroad so quickly? We just threw Chinese people in caves and blew them up and didn’t give a shit what happened to them. There’s no end to what you can do when you don’t give a fuck about people. You can do anything! That’s where human greatness comes from — that we’re shitty people, we fuck others over.” Louis CK’s ‘Of course… but maybe’ bit came to mind as I was reading…
- … Marina Hyde, anticipating the start of athletic competition at the Olympics, who wrote: “(The athletes’) feats and fables eradicate the months and years of government overspending, martial displays, human rights abuses, neighbourhood cleansing, and all the other adorable fascist quirks that are an essential part of the undercard to any modern sporting mega-event.”
- From the forced eviction of an estimated 1.5m people prior to the Beijing Olympics, to the forced labour (and unspecified number of deaths) of passport-stripped migrant workers behind the construction of facilities for Qatar’s World Cup in 2022, to a combination of all of the above thatenabled Sochi 2014 to be staged, it could be said that ‘modern sporting mega-events’ are today’s versions of world wonders built on slavery.
- Like the Colosseum, they take years to produce, rely on the toil of thousands of oft-exploited people, are a significant logistical & financial commitment, draw fascination from around the world… and look terrific. On the subject of which, consider the irony of the Rio opening ceremony acknowledging Brazil’s slavery record while people covering the event were housed in a media centre built on a mass grave which African slave descendants regard as sacred.
- Meanwhile, on the official Olympics website: “The Olympic Movement unites all people and builds bridges between all cultures. In Olympic sport, all people are equal, regardless of their ethnicity, gender or faith.” The paradox: you can’t help but suspect that if the Olympic vision of humanity were to become a reality, the Olympic Games wouldn’t exist at all.