The IOC has informally encouraged sex-testing since the 1936 Olympics, and formally since the 1968 Games. From "visual exams" inspecting the genitals of female athletes to the testosterone-seeking sex tests of today, the IOC has a horrific history of misunderstanding and misusing science to simultaneously hurt women. Women who do not fit their policy can either undergo medical intervention to force their biology into that shoebox, or quit. Several young healthy women underwent a series of invasive procedures, including clitoral amputation, to remain in competitive sport. We need to let that sink in for a minute.
Janice Forsyth is an Associate Professor and former Director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. She has co-edited several anthologies on the Olympic Games, as well as Aboriginal Peoples & Sport in Canada: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Issues, published in 2013. Janice regularly provides leadership and direction to government and service organizations in sport, as well as insight and commentary for media on Olympic related matters.
The International Olympic Committee has decided that one single determining factor, testosterone, is the latest and greatest marker for determining sex, even though research has shown there is no one single element than can be used to pigeonhole the world into two neat biological categories: male/female. This binary is an easy fiction that obscures the messier and more complicated details of real life.
07/26/2016 12:23 EDT
Organized sport played an important role in the residential school system, which means that sport is implicated in Canada's history of cultural genocide. How we move our bodies, the values we attach to those movements, and the resources we provide to support certain types of movements and not others are political decisions.
05/12/2016 05:54 EDT
Thus, the problem runs much deeper than the name they chose. Corporate profiteering routinely commandeers representations of Indigenous cultures for its commercial objectives. This includes well-known brands such as Ralph Lauren and Victoria's Secret, to name two recent examples.
04/11/2016 01:48 EDT
How does it look to have Canada's major department store, Hudson's Bay, teaming up with Dsquared2, the focal point of last year's atrocious "Dsquaw" debacle, to produce the outfits that our athletes will wear in Rio? What does it say about the Olympic Games, the corporate sponsors, and their relationship with Indigenous people in Canada?
04/01/2016 11:25 EDT
Toronto, beware. Tory's bid for the 2024 Games might be over, but what happened in that short span of time -- from July to September 2015 -- speaks to the larger problems inherent in mega-event hosting that you will have to address again, should another bid come your way.
09/20/2015 08:59 EDT
Toronto is considering a bid for the 2024 Olympics -- Mayor John Tory says he's still mulling over the economics of it all. The hard reality is that scholarly research on the economic impact of hosting the Olympics is not encouraging. The vast majority of studies show either no impact or a negative impact.
09/13/2015 06:13 EDT
The September 15 deadline to bid for the 2024 Olympics is a big deal that boosters everywhere are downplaying. In Toronto, they are telling us not to worry, saying it's just a letter -- an "expression of interest" -- and that the letter doesn't mean anything. Elsewhere, no one is saying anything about that date at all. But September 15 is a big deal, and bid cities everywhere should be concerned.
09/04/2015 05:51 EDT
Discussions about the 2024 bid were supposed to take place soon after the conclusion of the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games on August 15th. The Games have passed, the September 15th deadline is looming, and the trio of organizers -- Bob Richardson, Marcel Aubut, and Mayor John Tory -- have gone commando silent. They haven't offered a peep about procedures or timelines. We don't know with whom or how these discussions will take place. Why the secrecy? Where is the transparency and accountability in the Toronto 2024 bid process?
08/27/2015 08:32 EDT
To say that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) "shook things up" with Agenda 2020 is a gross understatement. Agenda 2020 voided and obscured critical sections of the Olympic Charter and the Olympic Games Framework, the IOC's two main documents for how to bid for and host an Olympic Games. It didn't just shake things up. It changed the entire game plan.
08/24/2015 08:19 EDT
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