Olympics

Since when is sex testing fair?

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Among all the coverage of this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio, perhaps the biggest media furore was around the athlete Caster Semenya.

Caster Semenya is a South African runner who won the women’s 800 metres. The mainstream media is divided. Many reports have speculated on whether she is “really a woman” or questioned whether it is “fair” for her to compete alongside other women.

Sport for all isn't part of the Olympic dream

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The Olympics saw some fantastic sport. The performances of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah and Almaz Ayana on the track were awe inspiring. Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps in the pool were completely dominant. In the velodrome Laura Trott was untouchable (again), while Nicola Adams boxed with grace and power.

But the Olympics are so full of the contradictions of capitalism that it leaves me conflicted.

Rehabilitating the military

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In 2007 General Richard Dannatt, head of the UK armed forces, complained, "The British public do not support the troops enough." Within weeks a range of support the troops initiatives materialised including a new annual Armed Forces Day, homecoming parades, Help for Heroes, Tickets for Troops, concerts for heroes, on X Factor "song for heroes" (twice), and various military-inspired album releases.

Most recently we've seen the introduction of the government's Military Covenant accompanied by a £30 million sweetener to be shared among councils who agree to produce military-related propaganda initiatives. These multi-agency practices and invented traditions bear a remarkable similarity to the propaganda-centred activities of the US and Canadian governments' programmes "Operation Tribute to Freedom" and "Operation Connection" which both seek to "re-connect" civilians to the military.

Which Paralympian legacy?

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The Paralympics were, it is universally agreed, the most successful yet. All the venues sold out, and Channel 4's coverage reached just shy of 40 million people.

Almost eight million viewers in the UK watched the closing ceremony.

Organisers hailed "the seismic effect in shifting public attitudes" to disability sports, claiming the games had changed public perception of disabled people forever. A poll taken immediately afterwards found that eight out of ten British adults thought that Paralympics 2012 had had a positive impact on the way disabled people were viewed by the public.

The Olympics: a nation united?

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Now that the hysteria has subsided, Brian Richardson asks whether the Olympics lived up to their promise

"It just cannot get better than this! This is us, our time, our country, our Mo Farah. Crowd of our time; tears of our time. Hope for all time." Those were the words with which journalist Jon Snow greeted Mohammed Farah's victory in the Men's Olympic 5,000 metres final. Elsewhere there was similar hysteria as commentators rushed to celebrate "Team GB". London 2012 was, we were told, a triumph for the nation.

The Austerity Games

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When Seb Coe invited the International Olympic Committee to select London as hosts of the 2012 Games he justified the bid in simple terms. If London won, he promised, more people would take part in sport than could be achieved by any of London's rivals: "Choose London today and you send a clear message to the youth of the world: the Olympic Games are for you". If London won more would be done for less money than could be achieved anywhere else.

Since London's victory there have been some attempts to keep an eye on whether these two promises have been met. The London Organising Committee (LOCOG) publishes annual accounts, and there has been some scrutiny through the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

It now seems clear that there will be no increase in sporting participation as a result of the Games. In 2008 the last government set Sport England a target to increase adult participation in sport by a million by March 2013.

The politics of the Olympics

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The London 2012 Olympics look set to be a jamboree of profiteering and nationalism. Brian Richardson recalls how past Olympics have been the site of struggles against racism

The Olympic Games have been associated with three of the most inspirational moments in the struggle for black emancipation. In August 1936 Jesse Owens confounded and humiliated the Nazi dictator Hitler by winning an unprecedented four gold medals at the games in Berlin. Twenty four years later Cassius Clay was crowned as the light heavyweight boxing champion in Rome. He was lauded on his return to the US, but still found himself refused service in "whites only" restaurants and targeted by racist gangs.

Letter from China

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The Beijing Olympics prompted attacks from many in the West over China's human rights record. But, argues Li Qiang, Western multinationals are central to the exploitation of Chinese workers

Adidas was one of the major sponsors of the Beijing Olympics. In China there are more than 200 factories employing over 250,000 workers that produce goods for Adidas.

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