Everything Simon Jenkins says may be true: the Olympics are over-hyped displays of chauvinistic nationalism — this has been intermittently the case since at least the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. But for him to use the Volgograd jihad bombings as the basis for a call to boycott the Olympics is nothing short of grotesque. He is saying that because the Olympics can become “a magnet for the enemies of the relevant state,” the relevant state shouldn’t confront and vanquish those enemies, but remove the pretext for their anger — in other words, appease them. This will not end the anger of the Islamic jihadists; it will only embolden them to continue their jihad. And continue it they will, until eventually it arrives at the offices of the Guardian and Simon Jenkins’s doorstep, despite their best efforts to stave it off by giving the jihadists what they want.
“The Volgograd bombs are a warning over Olympic excess,” by Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, December 30, 2013 (thanks to gravenimage):
The bomb blasts in the southern Russian city of Volgograd remind us that modern Olympiads are nationalist stunts first, and sports events second. Each one is more expensive and more politicised than the last, therefore becoming a magnet for enemies of the relevant state.
Vladimir Putin’s February winter games in Sochi have already matched Beijing 2008 in the enormity of their cost. The transformation of the site on the Black Sea has run to a reported $50bn (Â£30bn), which makes London’s Â£9bn extravaganza seem a bargain. One contract for $7.4bn went to a personal associate of the president. The cost of these essentially trivial events would shame the Emperor Nero.
The Sochi games are a shameless promotion of Putin’s Russia. He himself received the sacred flame in Moscow’s Red Square as if Ivan the Terrible were receiving a relic of the holy cross. It has been dispatched to the north pole and to outer space. A giant stadium is being constructed for just the few hours of opening and closing ceremonies.
Athletic elitism, the glorification of the human body, has succeeded religion as Marx’s opium of the people. Yet they are increasingly congregations of governments and their agents. And the more chauvinist their staging, the more inevitably they attract dark forces of protest and terror. Rio de Janeiro, home to both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, has led ordinary Brazilians to revolt at the appalling cost. Sochi, close to Russia’s enemies in the Caucasus, is a sitting target for those eager to rain on Putin’s parade.
Sensible countries should de-escalate these events or boycott them. They are staged by corrupt international sporting bodies who feast on them and have no care for the cities and peoples they impoverish. The Olympics should either return to their origins in sport, using existing facilities and more limited range of disciplines, or leave each sport to organise its own world championships. The Sochi way is madness.