Tuesday, September 09, 2008

America Abroad Media: Power, Politics, and the Olympics

Power, Politics, and the Olympics
America Abroad Media

The Olympic Games aren't just for the athletes. Political leaders, NGOs, and social activists all have an agenda when it comes to the torch.

It’s the summer of political conventions: Democrats in Denver, Republicans in Minneapolis, and jocks in Beijing. The Olympics are more than just fun and games—they’re also a forum for international politics. China hopes to make its Olympic games the nation’s coming out party. It’s hardly the first time the five-ring spectacle has been the venue for national agendas or grandstanding—think Moscow in 1980 or Hitler’s Berlin. And so far, controversy has surrounded Beijing—Tibet, Darfur, protests, threats of boycotts. Still, fans cheer that the Olympic flame could light the way to liberalization in China, as it did for South Korea in 1988. And that fuels the debate over whether ping-pong and the pentathlon should be tools of political change. Let the games behind the games begin!

Segment 1 - Ray Suarez examines the impact of political considerations on the International Olympic Committee selection process.

Segment 2 - Deborah Amos traces the role of politics in the modern Olympic movement.

Segment 3 - Ray Suarez takes us to Seoul to see whether hosting the games affected South Korea's transition to democracy.

Segment 4 - Ray Suarez revisits the US-led boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Segment 5 - Deborah Amos looks at the preparations underway at the Black Sea resort of Sochi to host what the Kremlin hopes will be a coming out party for Russia in the winter of 2014.

Guests on this program include:

Walter Mondale, former Vice President

Joseph Onek, former Deputy Counsel to the President

Craig Beardsley, member of 1980 Olympic Swim Team

Ambassador Nelson Ledsky, former head of Olympic boycott office

Dr. Allen Guttmann, author and professor of English and American Studies at Amherst College

Dmitry Barbus, Vice-Mayor of Sochi

Valery Brinik, co-Chairman of the environmental organization Social-Ecological Unity and former director of the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve

Alexander Popov, former Russian Olympic swimmer

Efim Bitenev, Deputy Director of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee

Alexey Voevoda, former Russian Olympic bobsledder

Olga Kostinikova, director general of the travel agency Sochi Holidays

Richard Pound, International Olympic Committee member

Sung Lee, assistant Mayor of Seoul

Lee Hong-Koo, former Prime Minister of South Korea

Donald Kirk, author and correspondent, Christian Science Monitor

Dr. Eunea Koh, senior researcher, Korea Institute for Sports Science

Dr. Han Sung-Joo, former foreign minister of South Korea

Rocky Yoon, acting secretary general, Korean Olympic Committee

To Listen to the Episode

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