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However, the stories of the runners and the swimmers reveal the ethical and political complexities embedded in the power of surveillance. In Ryan Lochte’s case, surveillance was able to factually counteract a narrative of white, male, American privilege; however, the mere existence of the footage has not proved sufficient to pose any real legal punishment, in or out of the water. Meanwhile, in the case of Caster Semenya and other female runners, invasive medical testing was not only ordered by official sports federations but also leaked to the media for a trial of public opinion. Both Semenya and Dutee Chand were barred from running while their test results were being debated, while at least four runners from developing countries had surgical interventions without any medical necessity. Notably, these decisions have disproportionately affected African and Asian women. While Semenya can rejoice in her victory, the debate has not been concluded, but only postponed. In the meantime, an open debate about the reaches of official and state surveillance — over the city, into our blood, and across national borders — is increasingly urgent. Equally urgent, as well, is the interaction of supposedly “neutral” technologies and bureaucracies with the systemic racism and sexism that continue to shape our contemporary society.

Tamar Shafrir

Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Mark Wasiuta
Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Mark Wasiuta, Sharif Anous
Joost Grootens

This project is part of the programme track Annual themes and the folder Olympic Games.