The Games

Please excuse me for not covering politics this week. I needed some relief from the toxicity of the Presidential campaign, which is now even this early, at a point of reeking. Instead, I’d like to take this moment to personally thank the planets for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Because of it, we had two weeks’ reprieve from the epic muck that is the current state of the US politics.


As an Aquarius with her Mars in Aries, Pluto in Leo, and Venus in Sagittarius, I have enough fire signs in the personal planets and deeper outer planets to appreciate, if not participate in, competitive sports. Yet, even when part of me in my youth wanted to play sports and I tried, I was also an artist first, and a person with a bad knee second. So I have some regret that I was totally unable to compete in anything other than dance.

Yet I enjoyed watching the swimming, the gymnastics and track and field events of this Olympics. The realized potential of the human body is a thing of beauty to watch, no matter the country you represent. Trump’s change of staff didn’t matter, nor did Hillary’s emails or health. For two weeks I had some great distraction.

I cried when Simone Manuel broke the Olympic record in the 100m women’s freestyle swimming race and shattered the dark history of segregation in America’s swimming pools. I loved watching Gabby Douglas standing at attention during the national anthem and not giving a shit whether or not she had her hand on her heart. I cried when the two women in the women’s 5000-meter race tripped over each other and fell, yet helped each other back up to try and complete the race.

I cried watching Carmelo Anthony’s interview — his last as an Olympian — listening to him speak about how momentous a moment it was for him to say goodbye to the Games and how important this was for the US, especially in its current state of racial and economic crisis. And let’s face it: that shiny Tongan guy was so easy on the eyes.

I enjoyed the Games, even though I admit they came at a great cost. I have been privy to personal stories from my Brazilian friends about the history of political turmoil surrounding the Games embroiling Brazil — deeply taxing itself by hosting this expensive, overblown and corporate-dominated international event in light of the country’s chronic and worsening social, racial and economic disparities.

At the time Rio was announced as the host city in 2008, the country was on an economic upswing, becoming a major player in the global economy; and the majority of the country felt optimistic for its future. By 2010, the time construction was in full force, it was apparent Brazil was in a deep economic crisis, helped along by widespread corruption at the highest office. This was the first Games in my recollection of history that a leader of the host country, Dilma Rousseff, was suspended and awaiting an impeachment trial for corruption.

By the time the Games opened, only half of the country wanted them; the other half were in staunch opposition. Compare this to 2008 when over 60% wanted the Games. But too late — the train had already left the station. There was no stopping it. By the weeks before the Games actually began, all felt resigned to them happening.

Rio’s infamous favelas were portrayed at the opening ceremonies as computer-generated images with choreography by Cirque de Soleil. It was a fanciful cartoon portrayal of the realities of Brazil’s crippling poverty. Rio has a 25% crime rate and the favelas are riddled with drug dealers and violence. This precipitated the aggressive use of police: a heightened militarized police and security presence was used throughout the games both inside and outside the sports venues.

One was hired to protect the athletes and tourists, the other to keep the city’s poorest out and away from the Games — keeping them out of sight and out of mind. You know, there were the parts of Brazil we never see. There weren’t any poor or homeless people broadcast on NBC, but you could find them here.

As a country that needs much more than these events provide, Brazil put a face on the International Olympic Committee’s continued exploitation of host countries. The Games leave no lasting legacy other than abandoned stadiums and arenas that don’t have much use even in the developed world.

The Games have time and again proven unsustainable on an infrastructural, economic and environmental level. There are some rare short economic boons before and after an Olympics, as was the case in Los Angeles in 1984 and London in 2012. But over time, building codes tighten. Massive facilities become obsolete, unsafe and ultimately abandoned.


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Even though the cariocas of Rio bravely put on a good show, it was a bad mistake for the International Olympic Committee to proceed with the Rio Games. I believe they were hoping against hope that Brazil would recover from its downturn at least partially, in time for 2016.

But the costs, as evidenced by the history of the Games — including the ones that concluded yesterday — remain devastating. If only there was another way that the Olympics could happen without leaving such a brutish footprint on a country’s fragile economy and society, I would be all for it. All in all, we humans still need to have celebrations of human spirit and achievement, not just as a distraction but as a given.

We still need a great distraction to take us out of ourselves even for a little bit. We need to see others in different parts of this world in a positive light. That’s what the Olympics did for me. Yet these types of celebrations don’t all have to be so expensive, covered by major networks, costing huge sums countries can’t afford to build venues, or sponsored by Coca-Cola and Nike.

We could use, as a world in motion and drastic change, a means to facilitate these Games more thoughtfully, and to be more considerate and sustainable for a country’s natural resources and human society. In this fast-moving age, can we come up with something that can achieve those goals as a new Olympian ideal?

Even though the 2020 Games are in Tokyo and building is already underway in their modern, developed country, I call upon the youth of this world to imagine and develop an Olympics in the future that can speak to our highest human goals of achievement — of ending poverty and increasing opportunity for all, so we can hold these events with no harm, and no fouls. The game is on to begin.

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About Fe Bongolan

Planet Waves writer Fe Bongolan lives in Oakland, California. Her column, "Fe-911," has been featured on Planet Waves since 2008. As an actor and dramaturge, Fe is a core member of Cultural Odyssey's "The Medea Project -- Theater for Incarcerated Women," producing work that empowers the voices of all women in trouble, from ex-offenders, women with HIV-AIDS, to young girls and women at risk. A Planet Waves fan from almost the beginning of Eric's astrology career, Fe is a public sector employee who describes herself as a "mystical public servant." When it comes to art, culture and politics, she loves reading between the lines.

4 thoughts on “The Games

  1. Barbara Koehler

    Thanks Fe. Perhaps that is the saving grace provided by the Olympics, at least for the U.S.; a respite from politics. It was the escape factor. Anything to escape from the reality of how brutal so much of our world really is. But even so, it was marred by the U.S. athlete Lochte and his comrades making headlines about lying and behaving badly. Neptune can do that; give us temporary escape or cause us to lie and behave badly.

    Scenes on TV made me cry this week, coming not from Rio, but from Aleppo where 5 year old Omran Daqneesh was pulled from the rubble and set down inside an ambulance on an orange cushion. Of course we need escape. The world, sometimes our own neighborhoods seem to revel in creating mass pain to the innocents who get in the way of the insane slaughter. What is it all leading to we might wonder.

    My only answer to that question is whenever the gods and goddesses agree that humanity’s lower instincts (aka hell) become so repulsive to humanity’s higher consciousness (aka heaven) that the lower must be separated from the higher. Right now transiting Atlantis is less than a degree away from the U.S. Sibly chart Sun in Cancer. When I think of Atlantis I think of people who abandoned their humanity, their conscience, their compassion, to worship the world of technology and perhaps other more material benefits. On Friday the 19th at the height of the Games, transiting Atlantis made an exact trine to transiting Neptune.

    This small perhaps insignificant aspect between asteroid Atlantis and the great god Neptune was in effect at the Aquarius Full Moon on August 18th. I believe it was a signal of a global awakening process, what with transiting Neptune conjunct the transiting south node (release) in Pisces (release). In a way we could look at it as if the Games were moving us all to a higher level, not just a test of our team/country physical endurance but of its spiritual endurance as well.

    This Full Moon was so full of meaning but taking a look at just the Moon herself – conjunct Pallas (the Strategist) just as the U.S. natal Moon in Aquarius also conjuncts U.S. Pallas – and the Full Moon only a few degrees from the U.S. Moon-Pallas conjunction, it almost screams “U.S. People, wake up! The Full Moon sextiled Uranus who is always screaming “wake up” and together they formed a Yod with Jupiter (and Mercury) in Virgo. At the apex of the Yod, Jupiter and Mercury are taking on this Yod responsibility and aiming the force of all that combined energy onto Chiron in Pisces who was/is opposite Mercury and Jupiter, and Chiron says to us “feel the pain and from it learn to heal yourself and your country”. That is what we call a Boomerang pattern in Astrology. A kind of what goes ’round, comes ’round effect.

    These are subliminal messages of course, Neptune operates best on a sublime level and the centaurs are certainly not attention getters in our dimension until they make us hurt or do something despicable or cause a brouhaha. We pause; we move our attention to the situation created by the centaur and away from whatever we were focused on before, and we start feeling different. The Games did that too didn’t they? Moving our attention away from the anxiety of watching how the world seems determined to use its energy unwisely, to the satisfying view of countries putting their best feet forward. Have we learned something from this?

    Perhaps yes. We see a healthier way to compete; a way that doesn’t seek to destroy or eliminate the ones being competed with. We look back to the subject matter we turned away from with a subtle, barely perceptible change in attitude. It is a part of the changing consciousness humanity is and will continue to experience until the low is separated from the high. There’s more love in the air than there was before.

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author


      Yes to all your analysis, and most especially yes to the subliminal messages. We take so many things for granted in our entitled country, so much so that our arrogance from the Trumpism is showing the world our worst, meanest sides. And its scaring them.

      In our fine example of the Ugly American, Ryan Lochte, a bright line was drawn between what we love about the US and definitely what we don’t. That he’s getting his just desserts and lucrative endorsements are taken from him is a good object lesson for him and others like him.

      Subliminally, even with all its structural faults and unrealistic expectations of host nations, I think these games provided a good symbolic example of what it is to work together. The IOC was to the point about this, acknowledging the Brazilians showed their truly warm hearts and spirits to the world. Let’s hope there’s other economic benefits they can achieve because of this partnership.

      My Brazilian friends in the music group Barbatuques performed in the closing ceremony as the opening act. Just two years ago, all were part of a nationwide protest against the games. Knowing them, and understanding the feelings of resignation, they put on their best. I cried out of happiness and pride for them and this accomplishment on the world stage and I hope their country will benefit. I also felt sadness because of their very spirit of generosity, still being there and performing. This is so much a part of the Brazilian heart that made up for what the country lacked in resources to present these games.

      The heart of Brazil and its people was infectious and was the glue that held the event together. That the IOC commended the cariocas spirit in their closing remarks sends another heartfelt message.

      I understand that when the US Olympic contingent did a pre-game site analysis for athlete housing, they were given an entire school near the stadium to stay. The building needed repair and overhaul of basic amenities like clean running water, bathrooms, and residence dormitories to code. The building was re-vitalized. They are giving it back to the school in a better place than where it was.

      Adding a link to Barbatuques performance here. (No mindless NBC anchor chatter).

  2. Vincent

    Its been suggested that the Olympics should have a permanent home in Greece – solving their economic woes and ending the crazed pressure now placed on hosting countries.

    I like the idea .

    But where would the winter Olympics be held … ?

    1. Fe Bongolan Post author

      I like that idea, too. It makes better sense. Wilmbledon is in Wimbledon. The Masters are in Augusta. Saving Greece would be appropos.

      The Winter Olympics in Switzerland?

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