Mega Events and Washing the Slate Clean
Winter’s greetings globetrotters from a windy and somewhat chilly Southern Hemisphere. As the world again turns its eyes to Russia, we are reminded of the power of mega events to allow a nation to determine how they are viewed on a world stage.
Wide media coverage is being given to Russia as hosts of the commencing FIFA World Cup which is a guaranteed draw card for visitors and viewers from around the world. Other headlines attributed to Russia include doping of their Olympic athletes, illegal annexation of Crimea, persecution of the Russian LGBTIQ community and the little matter of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40720673.
Russian opposition who oppose President Putin have hit the nail on the head by suggesting this World Cup is an opportunity for the Russian government to influence the impact these allegations have had around the world by showing off highlights of Russia and Russian culture http://www.businessinsider.com/the-world-cup-is-whitewashing-russian-atrocities-2018-6.
The opportunity for positive publicity creates a risk for those in power that local people will use the occasion to draw the world’s attention to issues they would rather keep under the carpet.
But this World Cup isn’t the first time this has been done…
In the lead up to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Indigenous people from inner Sydney communities were relocated to more remote areas to avoid a reminder for all visitors of the attempted genocide, invasion, forced removal of children and other atrocities against them that continue to impact until this day http://www.ipsnews.net/1996/02/australia-aborigines-suspect-relocation-plan-linked-to-olympics/.
One can only imagine the lead up to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin with growing Nazi control.
We know these events are powerful since the boycotting of an Olympics and many sporting events in South Africa helped the push to bring apartheid down.
So what’s the take-home message?
As spectators and travellers, we have the power to choose where we spend our money. If the inner fútbol fan in us needs to be at the game, we can always remember that we may not be shown the whole story and look for ourselves. We may have a chance to listen to locals who tell us what is going on and see if there is any weight to their claims. Bottom line, we can always remember there is an end game to dazzle, and not let ourselves be blinded by the light.
Enjoy the Mundial and till next time ⚽️🏆