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Politics, protest & the Olympics: the IOC’s Dick Pound

With COVID rates rising globally, this year's Olympics faced some major hurdles. But the pandemic was only part of the picture. The Tokyo Games played out against a backdrop of mounting global tension surrounding gender equality, racism and human rights, leaving many people to examine the place of politics on the playing field and podium. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer looks at the long history of protest at the Games with Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee and a former Olympic athlete himself. Plus: the US Women's National Soccer Team is the most decorated team in the sport, but are they paid as much as their male counterparts? A look at what equal pay for equal play means.

The new Olympic spirit of protest

Politics at the Olympics are nothing new. In 1968, two black athletes who won medals in the 200m race raised a fist to protest racial inequality, a move that got them banned from the Olympics for life. A few years later, the IOC introduced Rule 50, which reads: "It is a fundamental principle that sport is neutral and must be separate from political, religious or any other type of interference." As this year's Tokyo Games wrap up, they'll be remembered not just for the pandemic, or the heated local battles over whether they should happen at all. They are also a moment when Rule 50 got squishy. Whether it was soccer players taking a knee, German gymnasts in full body leotards, or Australian athletes holding up an indigenous flag, there's been a lot of protesting going on. And to some extent, the rules have been relaxed - though not everyone agrees they should be.

Dick Pound: Olympics successful despite COVID tensions

Before the Olympics, most Japanese people were against the Games due to fear of COVID. As the tournament got on, the International Olympic Committee's Dick Pound says that most resistance vanished, but some resentment still lingers among Tokyo's residents. "There's that tension, that still exists, but it's not interfering with the sport," Pound tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch this episode on US public television - check local listings.

The Graphic Truth: Who's done better than projected at Tokyo?

We expect the usual suspects — US, China, Russia — to dominate the Olympic medal tally. But how should the performances of large, well-resourced countries really be assessed? Drawing on a model first developed by a team of labor economists, the Financial Times looks at a range of factors — including past medal hauls, population size, and GDP per capita — to determine whether nations have surpassed or failed to meet expectations at the Tokyo Games. We take a look at the biggest under-performers and over-performers per the model, and whether people in these countries really care about the Olympics at all.

Olympics corner: Independence Day bronze

Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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How should athletes protest at the Olympics?

For Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee, protesting at the Games is fine — as long as it doesn't "interfere" with the competition itself or awards ceremonies. The Olympics, in his view, are an oasis of calm in the middle of an increasingly tense world, and "we shouldn't be spoiling that by pointing out the obvious , which is that there are social and political problems." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World on US public television.

Olympics corner: Sumos spook the horses

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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Olympics corner: Radioactive food, anyone?

Talk about atomic (spicy Korean) wings.

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