Power, Politics and the Olympics

Power, Politics and the Olympics

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! 

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
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.