Olympic Athletes have ‘right to blog’ (with restrictions)

I have a posts in the wings about my experience of ‘security’ at Olympic like events – I participated in ‘the system’ for a few years of my life while on the Canadian National Water Polo Team.

I just found on slashdot. The restrictions they are putting on athletes freedom of speech. I was forced to sign a big legal agreement about what I would and wouldn’t do before i could attend the Pan American Games as an Athlete.

Is it the tone of things to come? Will people who attend certain kinds of events be forced to sign away their right to write about them to attend?

The IOC has given athletes the right to blog at the Beijing Games this summer, a first for the Olympics. They’re allowed, as long as they follow the many rules it set to protect copyright agreements, confidential information and security. The IOC said blogs by athletes ‘should take the form of a diary or journal’ and should not contain any interviews with other competitors at the games. They also should not write about other athletes. Still pictures are allowed as long as they do not show Olympic events. Athletes must obtain the consent of their competitors if they wish to photograph them. Also, athletes cannot use their blogs for commercial gain.”

That part at the end is just insulting to athletes too. If they made any money it wouldn’t be ‘that much’ and after a life time of sweat and training for the love of their sport. It would be a small gift. The whole system is set up to make money off athletes – they (the IOC) sells their performance to corporations to used to promote their products and services (worse still junk food (McDonalds) and sugar water (Coke) to the worlds children). Then some of that money goes to the National Olympic Committees. It bearly makes it back to the athletic programs that need money to train and prepare for the games. The budget of my National team was lower then that of my college varsity team. Mean while as an athlete – you make below what you would in a minimum wage job with the stipend they give you. I trained in Montreal and so couldn’t really supplement that with ‘work’ as I didn’t speak French and besides training takes up your life.

My Olympic “identity”

So I am picking up from popular culture that the Olympics are happening now. Some of you may not know that I spent many years of my life dreaming about playing in the Olymics and actually training with an eye towards oventual competition there. I made it to the Pan-American Games (the regional version of the Olympics for countries in North and South America the year before the summer games and run by the Olympic Associations of the various countries.)

I have two articles that talk about my journey towards and then away from the games. Why I’m Skipping the Olympics covers this

Like all other hopefuls, I gave up a great deal to make the Olympic team. I moved away from friends and family, lived well below the poverty line for years and put my education on hold in order to hone my athletic skills. I made these sacrifices because I loved playing water polo and because I wanted to compete with the best.

and Resisting the McOlympics covers some other elements of my critique.

The Olympic Movement sets high aims in its charter. To me, “Respecting the dignity of the human race” does not mean licensing the symbol of Olympic ideals to the world’s leading producers of junk food. I eventually resigned my position on the Canadian Team, in part at least because I couldn’t stomach the idea that my finest performance, made at the peak of my athletic career, would be used by the “supreme authority of the Olympic Movement,” the IOC, in a deeply flawed co-branding venture. Today the universal and permanent symbol of the five rings is co-branded with McDonald’s and Coke.

In 2002 I flew out to Salt Lake City for the Games there and a Conference called Global Justice in the Shadow of the Olympics. A reporter from the Salt Lake weekly covered my appearance there.

In 1999, a journalist found [Kaliya] Young’s name on a list of athletes who would participate in the Olympics. The reporter asked her what she, as an athlete, thought about the scandal that would eventually put an ugly blemish on the Olympic organizers in Salt Lake City and the International Olympic Committee.

When the reporter sent those questions, Young said she found herself thinking about a lot more than just the Salt Lake scandal. “I began to think about the deeper meaning of the Olympics and how I was involved in that larger system,” she said. “My competitive performance would not be just a part of a world community gathering to compete in the spirit of fair play, good will and global unity, but rather it would be sold to the highest corporate bidder for their own commercial gain.”

Reform is needed, she said. But she doesn’t know what that means. Without corporate sponsors, where would the Olympics be? “I don’t have the answers. I just think there needs to be some deeper questions asked about the Olympic Games. And, most importantly, those questions need to be answered by a wider range of people. The IOC is unelected, self-appointing and it doesn’t answer to anybody.”

….she said she still has tremendous respect for the athletes who compete at such an intense level.

“I admire the athletes and I don’t think anyone should walk out or abandon the Games. I just had a lot of questions. The answers I found helped lead me to a decision to step out of the Olympic movement. And nothing I’ve learned since then has done anything but validate that decision,” she said.

Today I am quite distressed to hear that the olympics have made it a rule that Olympians can not blog HELLO have you heard of freedom of speech.