01 August 2016

What kind of New World For Whom?

"A New World" is the slogan that is slathered on the signs that litter Rio de Janeiro Olimpico. Similar to FIFA's disheartening "All in One Rhythm" slogan from Brazil 2014, the mega-marketing gurus have again led us directly into their Pokemon-addled brains. 

If FIFA's World Cup reduces all football cultures, musical styles, and dance steps into One Rhythm of rapacious consumption, then Rio 2016's "New World" brings to mind the crushing violence of European colonialism, extractive commodity markets, and utopian landscapes. As was the case 500 years ago, A New World is a belief system that rebrands the act of violent dispossession as "discovery".  By putting this saying across the Olympic landscape (indeed defining the boundaries of the New World), another round of extraction is signalled, with local collaborators taking their share of the spoils.  The first Games in the New World/South America are another "opportunity" to expand markets, to convert the natives, and to capture gold.  

Such is the extent of Olympic utopianism that the Athlete's Village is called Pure Island, a refuge from the impure urban sea, where the human flotsam of colonialism, slavery, and structural injustice inconveniently reside. The Mayor squawks about all of the transformations that Rio has gone through in order to make itself Olympic. The New World of Rio 2016 is crowded with BRTs, VLT, a Museum of Tomorrow, Nomadic Architecture, Smart City technology, PPPs, business hubs, etc, while the Old World of non-Olympic Rio continues as before: unclean, unseen, and uncared for. 




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