February 10, 2014 3 Comments
Roundtables are an occasional feature on Hockey in Society. Roundtables will present brief commentaries from Hockey in Society contributors on pressing or timely issues within hockey and its culture, with the aim of presenting a diverse range of critical viewpoints on the topic under discussion.
The Olympic Games are, despite the Olympic Movement’s laughable claims about the separation of sport and politics, highly political events. Sometimes this politicization is obvious (e.g. Berlin, 1936; Mexico City, 1968; Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984; etc.) and other times it is more subtle – but every Olympics is hosted, supported, and contested by various actors seeking diverse political aims.
This year’s Winter Olympics, currently ongoing in Sochi, Russia, is one of the more overtly politicized Games in recent memory. Among the controversial political issues surrounding these Games are Russia’s introduction of repressive anti-gay laws, the massive hosting costs of over $50 billion dollars and the related allegations of corruption, the security concerns over terrorist attacks, President Vladimir Putin’s use of the Games as an empire-building exercise, the culling of stray dogs from Sochi streets, and the exploitation of labour in the construction of venues. And this does not even touch upon the sports themselves, supposedly the raison d’être for the Olympic Games!
Given the many complex and controversial sociopolitical issues surrounding the Sochi Games – and given the prominence of hockey as a marquee event at the Winter Olympics, as well as a form of soft diplomacy by Putin’s regime – it is timely for Hockey in Society contributors to weigh in on a variety of hockey- and sport-related topics. After the jump, five contributors share their views on a diversity of topics: LGBTQ rights at the Sochi Games; the hockey-related political machinations of Putin and Canada’s Stephen Harper; Canada’s increasingly hypercompetitive emphasis on its Olympic medal haul; the Games as an opportunity for hockey to evolve; and the question of whether women’s hockey will remain on the Olympic program.