The Olympics as White Supremacist Game Design

The first television broadcast powerful enough to pass through the ionosphere and escape into space was the opening ceremony of the Nazis presenting the 1936 Olympics. While the consequences of this for human interaction with aliens are unlikely to reach Contact levels, the powerful idea that makes this fact so discomforting is clear. Symbolically, our species has announced itself to the universe in a global pageant of competitive gaming put on by and attended by white supremacists.

This, as a moment, also represents the way that white supremacy is seen as relating to pop culture and play. To be representative of the ideology that led to the Holocaust it must come with a massive hate symbol attached to it, otherwise the connection cannot be seen.

For instance when we say that white supremacists attended these games, we’re not just talking about Nazi Germany, but the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well, countries that inspired German fascism and it’s death camps in the first place. Despite some high profile campaigns to boycott the games, they would stand alongside a score of other nations with their own histories of slavery, ongoing ethnic cleansing and segregation operations, to play at sports.

The point here is to highlight that those who outwardly identify as having a white supremacist ideology are the tip of the iceberg for the prevalence of such thinking that continues today, which thus deeply affects our ability to design alternatives. It’s hard to remove white supremacy from game design because it is not seen as being present, even in the most obvious cases.

This also applies to the Olympic Games. When considered outside of entering the modern broadcasting age tied to a swastika, it should be recognised as having a white supremacist history that was there from the beginning in the resurrection of Ancient Greek bodily idealism by Victorians, and is still there today. 

For instance, multiple black women athletes have been disqualified from the 2021 Olympics in the run up to the games due to restrictive and dehumanising policing of their bodies by sport regulators. The cases of Sha’Carri Richardson of the U.S. (suspended for recreational, legal and non-enhancing drug use after the death of her mother) and Christine Mbomba and Beatrice Masilingi of Namibia (barred from the 400 metres for refusing to lower their natural testosterone levels) are present examples of this in the 2021 games. 

Christine Mbomba and Beatrice Masilingi in Prague, 2021

The idea that their bodies have ‘broken the rules’ as appropriate to what a woman athlete can be at the Olympics, despite these situations not involving performance enhancement, is tied to the long history of essentializing the figure of the recognised ‘woman’ to exclude black women, and is a very clear example of racism on the field in the biggest sporting event on Earth.

The specifically eugenic aspect of this, as regarding Mbomba and Masilingi, was codified in 2019 by World Athletics in these rules pertaining to ‘Athletes with Differences of Sex Development’:

“2.3 To be eligible to compete in the female classification in a Restricted Event at an International Competition, or to set a World Record in a competition that is not an International Competition, a Relevant Athlete must meet each of the following conditions (the “Eligibility Conditions”): 

2.3.1 she must be recognised at law either as female or as intersex (or equivalent); 

2.3.2 she must reduce her blood testosterone level to below five (5) nmol/L6 for a continuous period of at least six months (e.g., by use of hormonal contraceptives); 

2.3.3 thereafter she must maintain her blood testosterone level below five (5) nmol/L continuously (i.e., whether she is in competition or out of competition) for so long as she wishes to maintain eligibility to compete in the female classification in Restricted Events at International Competitions (or to set a World Record in a Restricted Event at a competition that is not an International Competition).”

ELIGIBILITY REGULATIONS FOR THE FEMALE CLASSIFICATION (ATHLETES WITH DIFFERENCES OF SEX DEVELOPMENT), World Athletics, 2019

All of this is in order to, as per earlier in this document, incentivise athletes “to make the huge commitment and sacrifice required to excel in the sport, and so to inspire new generations to join the sport and aspire to the same excellence. It does not want to risk discouraging those aspirations by having unfair competition conditions that deny athletes a fair opportunity to succeed.”

The very nature of this requirement is thus to create arbitrary genetic boundaries as to who is considered appropriately sexed for competition by World Athletics, and has so far only resulted in the visible exclusion of multiple black athletes from the grounds of the Olympics, apparently for the sake of preserving the egos of those who see them as an insurmountable threat to the fairness of the sport. 

This is eugenics to a tee – the creation of biological traits that pose a threat to the rest of the population and specifically to the supremacy of a certain type of person in terms of the power and status that they are allowed to hold. It should be of no surprise then that the President of World Athletics during this time was Sebastian Coe, a white man hailing from the home of eugenics itself, team GB.

The Olympics, with World Athletics as one of its federations, thus still represents on a global scale a tournament that has to be played by the standards of white supremacy, or not played at all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s