Torch protests, child labour and the multinationals!

In countries the length and breadth of the globe, such as Britain, France and the US, the state has intervened against protesters, in an attempt to protect the farce of the carrying of the Olympic torch.

The Olympic Games are dressed up as a spectacular event that unites the people of the world in a spirit of fairness and fraternity. Around the world, as the Olympic torch is hurtled around in as swift a manner as possible, the ruling class internationally would rather not have the inconvenience of the politicisation of such a wonderfully neutral and benevolent event, so useful in generating a “feel-good factor” to detract from the realities of capitalism.

Young people around the world are right to protest during the carrying of the Olympic torch for myriad reasons. There is nothing neutral or benevolent about those who have control over the Olympic Games. Why? You only have to watch the Games via the television screen for a few minutes in order to figure out the answer – the Olympic Games have massive vested corporate interests. The real winners are the likes of Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola etc. that receive invaluable opportunities to bombard us with advertisements, promoting their products to an ever-growing audience, making super-profits in the process.

Everything becomes an opportunity for profit-making under capitalism meaning that the positive aspects of sport are grossly cut-across. Athletes, so desperate for the lucrative sponsorship from Nike, Adidas and the likes, are pushed in the direction of performance-enhancing drugs in order to win. It detracts from the spectacular athleticism on display to realise that the drive to win, a drive that is bringing so many athletes to the lows of cheating, is linked to pressure from the multi-nationals sponsoring them! The captain of the Indian national football team Baichung Bhutia, who has refused to carry the Olympic torch because of the Chinese repression of youth, workers and poor demonstrating in Tibet, is a welcome exception to the rule.

The real nature of the Games is displayed most succinctly by the fact that the International Olympics Committee has been forced to investigate claims that the official merchandise for Beijing 2008 is being produced by workers who are being paid as little as 26 cent an hour, some of whom are as young as 12.

The reality is that the Olympic torch’s extravagant and ostentatious globe-trotting is made possible off the back of child labour! Young people should get active to expose and oppose this disgrace, as well as to demand that ownership of sport be taken back into the hands of ordinary people. The parasitic profiteers need to be told to push off with a big giant Nike Tick shoved up their….!

Laura Fitzgerald (CWI- Ireland)