We sat down with Anthony Watson while he was visiting Nashville to talk about the Beijing Olympics and politics. You might recognize Watson from the work he does with TPUSA and PragerU, but he is also an American-born skeleton racer who competed on behalf of Jamaica in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
We jumped right into Russian doping. Watson suggested watching Icarus (available on Netflix), a documentary released in 2017 exploring doping scandals and the Russian scientists behind it.
This year, Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva tested positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine. Despite the scandal, Valieva was still allowed to continue competing — though she ended up placing 4th in the Olympic Women’s Figure Skating competition Tuesday while the investigation continued.
Watson actually benefited from a doping scandal before the 2018 Winter Olympics. After a Russian Skeleton Racer was banned for doping, a spot opened up and allowed Watson to compete in the Olympic games on behalf of Jamaica. (Worth Noting: Given that his father had been born in Jamaica, Watson was eligible to compete on behalf of his father's native country.)
Watson echoes the same sentiments of other Olympic athletes who find cheating and doping disheartening. He also expands on how it’s outright unfair, depending on what country you’re competing for.
“[The Russians] have a controlling share in a lot of the funding that goes into putting these events on… that’s why their athletes will get suspended indefinitely. They just say, ‘athletes have been suspended’, and then a month or two later - or even just a couple of weeks later - the investigation will be over and an announcement will be made. The investigation will be over and this person’s back in.”
During our conversation, he continued on and referenced the Olympic swimming scandal in Rio De Janeiro circa 2016. He also expanded on how other countries that have doping scandals will get suspensions of up to 4 years.
THE OLYMPICS & POLITICS
Of course athletes from different world powers competing for physical dominance in sports gets political. The events veer towards propaganda on the world stage. In 2008, the Olympics were held in China for the first time. Watson reflected on how the games have changed ever since.
“It went from enjoying competition with people from all over the world… to now. It’s a subtle chess game of world dominance.”
The new political signaling we see from individual athletes using the Olympics as a platform is all but accepted at this point, but even national politics used to play out a bit differently on the world stage compared to the cloaked subversion we see today. Watson made mention of the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, an Oympic spectacle used by Adolph Hitler to display Nazi superiority.
“That was the famous Olympics that made Jesse Owens (USA) famous because he was an African American sprinter that went out there and beat all of Hitler’s aryan, designated superior, athletes. Owens beat them by a long shot and Hitler was supposed to come down and shake the hands of all the winners… and he just got up and left the stadium.”
In fact, Hitler notably only shook the hands of German gold medalists and a few Finnish athletes on the first day of the Berlin Olympics.
“The reason why the Olympics is so big is because it is inclusive. It allows everyone. You look at the colors of the Olympic rings - blue, yellow, black, red, and green. Every country in the world has at least one of those colors in their flag which is the universal symbol for everyone to be invited to attend. Now, the politics of it are what really suck.”