The Pacific Index

Jules Boykoff comments on politics of the games

Hanin Najjar

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Pacific University Professor and Chair of the Politics and Government Department Jules Boykoff recently spent time writing and commentating on the politics and activism surrounding the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“This year was a really important Olympics for the politics of representation,” Boykoff said.

According to Boykoff, the LGBTQ community experienced a moving moment in this year’s games when American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy kissed his boyfriend on NBC Live.

“That matters,” Boykoff said. “It’s important to have people seeing that love comes in many ways and it can be beautiful.”

In another instance, African American speed skater Maame Biney, who moved to the United States when she was five-years-old, shattered stereotypes about immigrants and African Americans just by participating in the Winter Olympics.

“Having someone like Biney, who is incredibly successful, helps remind people that immigrants are a really important part of the history of this country,” Boykoff said.

Boykoff has moved to several Olympic cities in the past to better cover the games, like to London and Brazil ahead of the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, and has been writing about political activism in the Olympics since 2010.

He has also published three books on the Olympics, including “Activism and the Olympics” and the “Political History of the Olympics.”

Boykoff is currently in the process of writing another book about athletes, political activism and how the media portrays politically active athletes. He is taking a sabbatical next fall, and will work more on it then.

“Being an athlete is more than just participating in sports,” Boykoff said. “It’s about seeing.”

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Jules Boykoff comments on politics of the games