Social Issues Essay

628 WordsMar 2, 20153 Pages
BAKU is humming with the customary accompaniments to showcase events: lavish new facilities are being finished, sponsors schmoozed, and human-rights activists and awkward journalists locked up. For June’s European Games—an unconvincing new tournament that Azerbaijan is hosting—the brutal regime is using the formula it honed at the Eurovision Song Contest of 2012, and hopes to deploy for the Olympic games of 2024. Smile, spend big and suppress dissent. Sport is separate from politics, and can even be therapy for it; or so its organisers often maintain. What does it matter if some faraway goon blows his petrodollars on a summer jamboree—or a winter one, as will now be the case for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which FIFA, football’s disgraced governing body, this week farcically moved to December to avoid the intolerable heat? It matters. Frivolous as they seem, staging these events in ghastly places not only tarnishes FIFA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other overseers. It renders all involved complicit in corruption, and worse. In this section Planet of the phones In a quagmire The granny state A slow-motion coup Games that must stop Reprints Related topics Football (soccer) Qatar Azerbaijan Vladimir Putin Human rights As a new study (reviewed on page 82) makes clear, democratic governments and their pinched voters are realising that although the public benefits of hosting these events are vague, the outlays—and losses—are high and rising. London’s Olympics were sublime, but the costs more than tripled from initial estimates. Brazil’s World Cup led to riots as well as footballing disaster for the home side. The preference of FIFA and the IOC for glitzy new stadiums, and an inflationary contest in spectacle, do not help. The risk is that the field is left to authoritarian countries. The Winter Olympics of 2022 now has only two

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