Thursday, 10 April 2008

Boycotting China

After events concerning the Olympic torch relay in London, Paris and today in San Francisco, China can be in little doubt what the World thinks of it's decision to host the Olympics this summer.
My sympathy goes to the torch carriers, nobody wants to see an innocent person in one of the greatest moments of their life terrified by protesters but the message is loud and clear, we don't approve of the IOC's choice of host after recent events.
With less than four months to go before the opening ceremony in Beijing, the previously whispered word "boycott" is being mentioned more confidently.
The Europeans are contemplating sending their athletes but keeping their heads of Government at home on the opening night formalities but some people are calling for a complete boycott to drive home the message.
As numerous other Olympic boycotts have previously shown, they achieve nothing except penalising the athletes. If a nation's leadership is prepared to cut short the highlight of an athletes career, then they had better be prepared to take a long hard look at their economic relations with China afterwards and take other measures that indicate their stand is not just political posturing and they really are concerned with human rights in that part of the World.
With China poised to become the global power, it is proving a real headache for some Premiers who will go all out not to upset the Chinese and would rather not have to deal with such potentially thorny issues and the UK has the added tricky situation of hosting the next Olympic games and know that any action by Britain will be greeted by likewise retaliation in 2012.
The best people to pull a boycott would be the likes of Olympic sponsors Coca Cola, Kodak, Adidas and McDonald's but we all know how likely that is so the next best option is to keep the leaders away from the opening and closing nights, don't stop the athletes doing their stuff and keep the politics in the political arena, not in the sporting one.


Steve Lockwood said...

I think your last 2 paragraphs hit the Olympic hypocrisy right on the head. Though I don't think it's possible to keep the sport and the politics separate - and this might even be a good thing.

The aim of the Olympic movement is, essentially, political. From the IOC web page: "... the goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."

I would declare myself completely in agreement with that aim. However, this aim is a political one, even though it uses the vehicle of sport. So you can't keep politics out of the Olympics.

Article 5 of the Olympic charter: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion,
politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

It's obvious that this Article has been completely compromised by the acceptance of China as a host nation. The political and commercial interests that you describe have taken precedence.

It sounds a complete mess - but there is a positive side. What better way is there to hold a big magnifying glass to the human rights situation in China and Tibet? The well-deserved embarrasment "suffered" by the Chinese authorities may well be the catalyst for positive change.

So let the Olympics go ahead, let the sportspeople compete, let's enjoy the spectacle. Let's also allow the protesters to open the eyes of the world. Then the Olympic movement might well have moved a little further towards its aims.

Olympic torch-bearer: "I'm doing this for world peace."

Protester with bucket of water: "So am I."

Anonymous said...


Do we really know what the world thinks because of the actions of a few thousand people. Those same people that were protesting in the U.S. also protest against raising animals for human consumption, SUVs, tax decreases, Christianity, the use of non-organic fertilizers, cutting down trees, using animals for testing drugs, nuclear energy, etc.

They kinda protest everyday about something...


Lucy said...

You are right Steve, it is almost impossible to keep the politics out of the Olympics but it would be interesting to see what the reaction would be if this wasn't the powerful China we were talking about.

Maybe Q, there are just many things going on about us to protest about.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

Lucy et all,
It isn't as if the Olympics (the new ones, not necessarily the ancient ones) have ever been in practice what they were supposed to be in name. Withdraw from the IOC or go along with the joke (about the games being for peace).
It's about entertainment and money insofar as it's about anything in particular.

I'd agree that this whole thing is jumbled. Just leave the folks alone and let them compete.

annie said...

Plenty of protest-worthy things are going on in our names.
Unfortunately,the turning away is evident.And quite distressing.

Dismal Soyanz said...

This was on Radio NZ yesterday:

Puts the current debacle into a very good historical perspective.

Bottom-line: The Olympics has always been political. Get over it, folks.

Ruth said...

Yes, getting the corporates to pull out would send a great message. Other protests are a waste of time IMO.

O' Tim said...

Hey, Speilberg gave them the finger (after much cajoling from his Hollywood friends)

David G said...

It's interesting that Brown is boycotting the Olympic opening ceremony. How many Iraqis did the British kill in Iraq again (but never mind, they're so, so concerned about Tibet civilians)?

And Mr Murder and Torture, George Bush, was lecturing the Chinese the other day about human rights.

We live in a strange world.

Anonymous said...

David G,

Yeah, we live in a world where not everybody thinks like you. How strange is that...


Jodie Kash said...

Not to sound like I live a world of cupcakes and rainbows, but my brother ran a length of the torch through Boulder, Colorado (Winter Games a couple rounds back - first after 9/11), and it was all pomp and ceremony, but a day I filed away as a good one. And my Dad got to hold the Olympic Torch. He even went home to his little town in PA and put a blurb and fuzzy photo of himself in the local news. He was King of the VFW for a bit ;)

I embrace and absolutely encourage the right to speak and act. Just makes me a little sad here in my fairy land.

Lucy said...

I do feel for the runners jodie, to see that woman in London look so terrified as the demonstrators tried to grab the torch did leave a nasty taste.