As several posts already point out, sports and the human body were racialized in Nazi Germany. There is a racial undertone to discussion around sports today, as well. In terms of the Olympics, however, this ties into a larger theme: the promotion of a nation in turmoil. Obviously, in the case of the Nazis, part of the promotion of the state was the promotion of the Aryan body. On a larger scale, though, the Nazis wanted to present the illusion of a thriving country to a global audience. Germany wanted to prove that they had grown and succeeded since World War I, despite their “stab in the back”. The 1936 Olympics presented such an opportunity.
The 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2016 Rio Olympics were also opportunities to present the illusion of a thriving country to a global audience. Both Russia and Brazil were arguably facing a sort of turmoil. Human rights and military concerns plagued Russia leading up to the Winter Games, and the conditions of the athletes’ quarters were rumored to be quite poor. Nevertheless, Russia wanted to present a certain image, and thus engaged in state-sponsored drugging in order to try to give their own athletes an advantage. Due to racial misconceptions about both sport and South America in general, Brazil already faced criticism. Many doubted that the country would be able to build its facilities in time for the Games. Brazil was also facing massive ecological concerns, and an outbreak of the Zika virus. Furthermore, former President Dilma Rousseff was impeached the same summer for mismanagement of federal funds. Through many sports fans would love to see the Olympics as the last hold out of pure, politics-free entertainment, they certainly are not.