Another Perspective

The White Olympics

Why aren't liberals calling for "Occupy Sochi"?

By 2.20.14

UPI
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The world welcomed the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with cloak and dagger, prepared to pounce on Vladimir Putin and his anti-gay politics. Strikingly, however, the left’s focus on homosexual equality has not shifted to the racial and ethnic equality of the Olympics.

Let’s face it: The Winter Olympics don’t represent the world as liberals would understand it. There is no “diversity,” and there is certainly no unilateral equality of competition. Olympic bullying is afoot.

The raw statistics speak volumes on this subject. The countries that sent the most Winter Olympians to Sochi are the United States (230), Russia (226), Canada (221), Switzerland (168), and Germany (153)—and, yes, an overwhelming majority of their athletes are white. After these, there are only six countries—all from Europe—with more than 100 athletes at the games. After the 11 slot, a steep drop off in participation ensues. Warmer climates are the easily the most underrepresented, which boils down to common sense. Regions that have no snowy mountains, and which are incidentally poorer by comparison, tend not to yield swaths of Winter Olympians.

And yet, there is no loud outcry for the rich, overrepresented countries, which have a little bit more capital than they need, to invest in the “little guy,” who, through no fault of his own, is dealt an insurmountable hand that rich society has effectively imposed through its tacit refusal to act. There are no ladders being built for these countries to enter the middle class of global athletics.

A recent Washington Post article treads on the periphery of this touchy subject, but only as it relates to America, the country with the least of the problems. The title of the piece: “Shani Davis, no matter where he finishes, remains an unfortunate exception at Winter Games.”

In the opening, the author quips (but not really): “Don’t listen to your friends back home saying the Winter Olympics are just for white people who like the cold and vacation in Aspen. This is the most inclusive Winter Games ever. Why, there are Caucasians here from almost 88 different nations.”

Other bloggers have touched on the lack of racial diversity, including one post headlined “I Can’t Care About the Winter Olympics.” Because they are “almost exclusively for well-off white people,” of course.

And yet the voices of these bored, apparently indignant bloggers have not been heard. It’s fairly obvious that the blazing torch of Olympic diversity has not been passed on to liberal activists, but has instead been dubiously extinguished.

While there were 204 different nations participating in the London 2012 Summer Olympics, there are only 88 participating in Sochi.

In many cases, athletes representing the lesser of these nations are wealthy, transplanted Europeans, who, not talented enough to qualify for the usual suspects, represent countries with little to no representation and, thereby, have little to no choice in letting them compete.

Consider the story of Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe. Which country would you assume he represents? His name is evidently not Mexican in any way, shape, or form, and yet he is the lone Mexican athlete at the Olympics. Von Hohenlohe is 55 years old and has been Mexico’s only winter athlete for the last 30 years.

Von Hohenlohe, an independently wealthy aristocrat directly descended from the last Holy Roman Emperor Kaiser Franz II, lived in Mexico for the first four years of his life and then moved to Spain. Thereafter, he studied in Austria and his main residence was in Vienna, where he began working as a photographer and artist. Hilariously, although he has Mexican nationality, which makes him eligible to compete for Mexico, he only spends a few weeks a year there. Talk about national pride.

Von Hohenlohe has never gotten close to medaling.

Then there's Dow Travers of the Cayman Islands, the son of Cambridge grad Anthony Travers, chairman of the board of Cayman Finance, the chairman of the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange, and former senior partner and managing partner of an international law firm called Maples and Calder. The younger Travers would go to boarding school at the Harrow School in London and has since moved onto Ivy League’s Brown University.

Travers finished 69th in giant slalom at the 2010 Vancouver games.

Finally, there is Zimbabwe’s first Winter Olympics athlete, Luke Steyn. He was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, and moved to Switzerland at age two. His reasons for competing for the African nation: “I’m African, even though I don’t sound like it all the time. Why not represent Zimbabwe? It’s unique.”

Although Steyn is white, he has nonetheless been welcomed into the annals of Zimbabwe lore by a website called Global Black History. Steyn is ranked 2,962nd in slalom and 1,711th in giant slalom.

Each of these athletes is white and remains the sole representative for countries they’ve lived in on and off over the course of their lives, and have ethnic groups that are majority Hispanic, mixed race, and African.

Where are the Occu-cries for Togo, Thailand, Lebanon, Portugal, Dominica, and San Marino, which only have two athletes in Sochi? Chinese Taipei, Macedonia, Peru, Monaco, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Argentina, and Greece all face similar challenges.

Where are the vacuous demands for those “one percent” nations, like America, coffers overstuffed with regional and overall capital, to invest in the likes of Mexico, Malta, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Philippines, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands—all countries that have a whopping lone athlete appearing at the games?

One can only sit and watch these games with bemusement. Where has disparate impact gone? What are the seemingly unoccupied Occupiers are up to? Why don't liberal elites treat the Winter Olympics like their politics? And when might that day come?

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About the Author

Matt Naham, originally from West Milford, NJ, is a recent graduate of Christendom College, where he graduated with a B.A. in English Language and Literature. While enrolled, he served as editor-in-chief of the school paper, The Rambler, for a year’s time. Currently, he is working as an editorial intern with The American Spectator, which has been made possible by the National Journalism Center, an affiliate of the Young America’s Foundation.