Ever since FIFA, the global soccer governing body/alleged cesspool of corruption, appointed Qatar the host nation for the 2022 World Cup, the association has repeatedly found itself on the defensive: It has vociferously rejected widespread allegations of vote-buying by the Middle Eastern nation, and it has turned a blind eye to criticism of Qatar’s antediluvian views on homosexuality. Most recently, the country revealed its planned "gay test" for players and fans during the World Cup, which reportedly could include a forced penile plethysmography test or forced anal examinations. But even more damning news came November 17, when Amnesty International released a report that’s sobering, by any measure: The 2022 World Cup venue, it reveals, is being built with slave labor.
The report details the country’s widespread use of forced labor to build the glittering stadiums and related infrastructure that will host soccer’s biggest tournament; looking primarily at the cases of Nepalese immigrants, Amnesty International found that contractors and subcontractors hired by the Qatari state have denied pay to hundreds of thousands of Asian workers, housed them in facilities not fit for farm animals, and worked them until, in some cases, they literally dropped dead. The human rights group could not estimate how many workers have been the victims of criminally negligent homicide thanks to Qatar’s deplorable practices. But it is easy to believe that without an overwhelming response from either FIFA or the global community, tens of thousands of migrant workers will risk their lives so that the country and its contractors can build the World Cup infrastructure on the cheap.
Read more. [Image: AP/Osama Faisal]
Three decades and a war later, the remains of Sarajevo’s Olympic facilities.
To win Olympic medals, a country needs lots of talent, the resources to train that talent, and the desire to spend those resources, as my colleague Matt O’Brien put it.
As host of the 2016 Olympics, Brazil has plenty of incentive to rake in as much Olympic gold as possible, and with almost 200 million people, it has quite the talent pool, too.
What’s more, the country has discovered that certain segments of its sizeable population come prepackaged with Olympic-worthy skills. Why train new Olympic archers, the thinking seems to be, when some Brazilians have already been shooting arrows since they were the size of a quiver?
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Paulo Whitaker]
Prior to the 2002 Olympics, the NSA and FBI arranged to intercept all emails and texts in the Salt Lake City area.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
For one speed skater, making a statement means wearing a rainbow pin as he darts across the ice. For one figure skater, it means just being himself, flamboyant costumes and all, and having his husband there to cheer him on.
But both athletes, who will be competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, know they may be arrested under Russia’s vaguely defined ban on so-called gay “propaganda.”
But the speed skater, New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup, and the figure skater, American Johnny Weir, are defying calls by some activists and athletes to boycott February’s Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. They are among the competitors and supporters who say the best place to take a stand against homophobia is at the Olympics themselves.
Read more. [Image: Grigory Dukor/Reuters]
Olympic villages are architectural ruins in waiting: state-of-the-art displays of national pride and international unity that quickly become either ghost towns or new towns, depending on urban and design planning or the lack of it. The new, limited-edition photography book (just 1,000 copies) The Olympic City by Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit, featuring 200 photos taken between 2008 and 2013 in 13 cities, chronicles abandoned and repurposed Olympic structures—and the displaced and replaced lives in areas affected them. Flipping through its pages provides a visual collection both of stark, cautionary tales and encouraging, fascinating stories of reinvention.
[Image: Flickr user: The White House]
The 2012 Summer Paralympic Games begin tonight in London with Queen Elizabeth II officially opening the Games at the Opening Ceremony in London. An estimated 4,200 athletes representing 167 countries are expected to compete in the Games, designed for athletes with physical disabilities. They will compete in 20 sports, ranging from cycling, powerlifting, and judo, to wheelchair rugby and goalball. BBC’s Channel 4 is inviting viewers to “Meet the Superhumans,” and it plans to broadcast 150 hours of Paralympic programming between now and the Closing Ceremony on September 9. Viewers online can also watch hundreds of hours of live video from the International Paralympic Committee at paralympic.org. Gathered here are images of the athletes and organizers as they ready themselves for the 2012 Summer Paralympics — more coverage to come as the Games progress
Read more. [Image: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti, AP Photo/Sebastian Widmann, Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins, AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth]
The London Olympics were supposed to be the “social media Olympics.” They were supposed to be the Olympics when viewers around the world, enabled by Twitter and Facebook and other free communications services, could come together to discuss the competition and pageantry playing out on their television sets. Or, if they were lucky enough, on their computer screens.
And these Olympics were, to an extent, exactly that: Facebook saw soaring numbers for the Facebook fan bases of Olympic athletes. Twitter, not to be outdone, logged over 150 million Olympic-related tweets over the past 16 days. But these Olympics ended up being something else, too. The drama playing out in London ended up bringing people together through a very particular kind of social media: memes. Visual memes, ridiculous memes, memes that took the imagery of the Games and augmented it.
London 2012 was McKayla Maroney’s scowl, all the way down.