By Ken Reed

Despite the idealism inherent in the Olympic creed (“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”), the modern Olympic Games have always been a delicate dance between political actions and athletic accomplishments. As long as athletes wear the colors and names of their countries, national anthems are played for the winners, and Big Media is involved, it will remain that way.

The Rio Olympics certainly weren’t an exception. Jennifer Hassan and Tiffany Harness of The Washington Post did a nice job capturing and summarizing some of the top political moments from this summer’s Olympic Games. Some were highly publicized and others were of the obscure variety.

The article lists 11 political incidents. A couple that stood out for me: 1) American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who won a medal wearing a hijab, had this to say to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump:

“I don’t have another home to go to. My family was born here. I was born here. I’ve grown up in Jersey. All my family’s from Jersey. It’s like, well, where do we go?”

2) In a courageous move, Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa won the men’s marathon with his arms crossed above his head, a defiant gesture intended to protest his government’s brutal treatment of the Oromo tribe. The Ethiopian government has killed hundreds of Oromos and plans to reallocate Oromo land.

“If I go back to Ethiopia, maybe they will kill me,” Lilesa said. “If not kill me, they will put me in prison. I have not decided yet, but maybe I will move to another country.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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