If you're all geared up the Canada-USA Men's Hockey Gold Medal game, probably best to wait until after the game's conclusion to read this essay from Laura Robinson. Laura, a friend whom I haven't seen in too long a time, loves sport — and is a tremendous athlete herself — but has always been a strong critic of those — mostly male — who control and often exploit athletes. It's an angry, cynical but important read about the so-called international Olympic event. It is definitely not the kind of celebratory journalism that mainstream media organizations, mine included, are keen to serve up as Canada finds itself tied for the all-time lead in gold medals won in any one Winter Olympics.
The short version of Her current essay, in The Literary Review of Canada, is that IOC members have too many fascists and Nazi sympathizers — I'm generalizing only slightly — but she also has much to say about the International Olympic Committee's dodgy record when it comes to one of the fundamental ground rules in our democracy: You must be accountable and you must be transparent. The IOC, in Robinson's view, fails on both counts:
One World Trust, an independent British think tank, recently ranked the IOC as the least transparent of the 30 non-profit organizations it measured.
When they appear in public, members of the IOC are surrounded by security. Journalists were initially banned from the 121st session of the Olympic Congress this past October in Copenhagen; then the 1,400 media representatives who had come to cover the selection of the host city for the 2016 Olympics were cordoned off by hundreds of police officers and security agents. Once the choice of Rio de Janeiro was announced, most of the journalists left, but there were still a couple of hundred wanting to cover the rest of the congress. The IOC allowed 17 to question delegates in the lobby of the Copenhagen Marriott during lunch and breaks, dividing the journalists into two groups, A and B, with only group A getting access to the IOC members. No reason was given for this by Mark Adams, the IOC’s communications director—at least no reason that made any sense to the journalists present. Gianni Merlo, president of the International Press Association, said, “This is unfair. We are here to talk to the IOC members. And we don’t want to be listed as A and B journalists. It’s complete nonsense to prevent us access to the delegates.” He was joined by the president of the Olympic Journalists Association, Alain Lunzenfichter, who also tried to obtain media accreditation for all journalists. At the end of days of confusion and double-talk from the IOC, Adams said: “Thanks, this was a most enjoyable press briefing.”