The Olympics are infesting the media once again. People don’t believe me when I say I find the whole thing very distasteful, but I do. This isn’t about human achievement, and it isn’t about bringing the world together. It’s a way of pitting countries against each other in one big power contest, a big booster for the sort of nationalism that leads to more damaging forms of conflict. The folks who want to not bring politics into it have missed that it is little but politics, and has been well longer than I’ve been alive. The Berlin games. The boycotts. The killing of the Israeli athletes. The announced refusal of folks from one country to compete against those from specific other countries. The lone female on the Iranian team, a gymnast who is instead competing in sharpshooting because you can’t do gymnastics in the government-mandated long coat and head scarf.
If you want to see human achievement, chose something where people aren’t selected to represent countries. If you want to see government achievement, measure it in what they offer their people and the world in terms of liberty, security, education, opportunity, and wealth.