At the beginning of the olympics, a tweet made the rounds both on Twitter and on Tumblr that neatly dissected Britain's brutal history of colonization and the irony of so many of those colonized nations coming back to the motherland to compete:
Yep. And then this happened: Damien Hooper, an Indigenous Australian boxer dared to wear a t-shirt with the Aboriginal flag design after his match. WHILE STILL IN THE RING. Someone, get me my fainting couch, and bring me my pearls! The Olympic charter has a rule that there must be no political statements whatsoever made at the games and Hooper has been ordered to apologize to the Chef de Mission of the Australian team.
Hooper is a world-class athlete. He would have dedicated a massive chunk of his life thus far to making it to the games. He is there to represent Australia. Hooper is also Indigenous. His people have been and continue to be colonized by the Australian government; they are ghettoized, they face racist and discriminatory policies that interfere with their sovereignty and self-determination and with with their health both emotional and physical. In wearing that t-shirt Hooper was showing that he was proud to be Indigenous; in punishing him, the IOC is reinforcing that there is no place for Indigenous people at the games unless they shut up and just represent their colonizers with a smile on their faces.
The amazing Leanne Betasamosake Simpson wrote an amazing piece about Hooper on her blog (which got reposted to Racialicious as well) that takes apart the notion of an apolitical games:
Read her whole essay. It is perfect.