Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

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World Cup & Olympic Protests in Brazil

Brazil is slated to host the 2014 World Cup Soccer tournament and the 2016 Summer Olympics.  Currently the FIFA Confederations Cup soccer tournament is being held there as a sort of dry run for these big events and the festivities have been marked by massive public protests over “spending on stadiums” vs. basic public service.  The video below has gone viral and was posted a few weeks before the protests started.

 

click here for video

 

Mexico City 1968 and Denver 1976

The circumstances were different but there were large public protests including a massacre of about 40 protesters in early October of 1968 before the Mexico City Olympics.  Here is a link to BBC reporting from that time and also a more recent review of what happened in Mexico City.  In the early 1970s the people of Denver rejected public funding for the 1976 Winter Olympics, and the games were moved to Innsbruck, Austria. So, this is not the first time people have questioned the priorities associated with massive public spending on global sports extravaganzas.

 

Let Them Eat Stadiums?

Here is a link to an NYT op-ed piece entitled “Let Them Eat Soccer” with more on the situation in Brazil.  I have been to Brazil a couple of times.  It is a spectacular place poised to become a world power with world class people and capabilities in many areas.  However, it is marked by all sorts of problems related to corruption, extremely high levels of social inequality, and just plain growing pains.  In this context, is spending lavishly on stadiums a good idea?  Similar questions have been raised in the US about public subsidies for professional sports stadiums which seem a bit crazy since the owners of the big sports franchises are typically “billionaires”.  With people taking to the streets in Brazil and the ability of protests to go viral, I wonder what the long term effects will be on the ability of governments all over the world to subsidize stadiums.  The recent US Open Golf Tournament at Merion also shows that extravagant purpose built venues are not essential to great competition.  So, maybe there is a middle way.

 

 

 

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