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Jules Boykoff | Rapid-Response: Power, Politics and Pride at the Olympic Games

Events | Headline and Cultural Forums

Back in 2009 when Rio bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games it was seen as an opportunity to highlight Brazil as a successful, stable democracy with a strong economy. By the time the 10,000 global athletes descended upon Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic City in August, Brazil was wading deep in an economic recession, battling a massive Zika outbreak and had found itself in the worst political crisis in over two decades, as President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment hearings.

Politics and power-posturing are certainly no strangers to the Olympics and although the world's premier sporting event has strived to appear apolitical and celebrate the grand display of cooperation that brings together global cultures, the modern games have been as plagued with politics and protest, in counter to the triumph and pageantry. Just remember: the 1936 Berlin Olympics, 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, the 1972 Munich Olympics, among other political, economic, and/or social maelstroms.

Pacific University's Jules Boykoff (a former US Olympic team member and author of Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics; Activism and the Olympics: Dissent at the Games in Vancouver and London and Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games) is freshly back from Rio and takes us through the political history of the modern games and shares a frontline look at the political and cultural highs and lows of the 2016 games.

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