Should we boycott Chinas 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?
Amazingly I find myself mostly in agreement with well known right wing Murdoch newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt (who would have ever thought it possible!):
Don’t boycott China’s shame: NO, don’t. Let’s not boycott the Beijing Olympics. Letting them go ahead is hurting China much, much more
With showbiz causes such as Tibet to push, protesters will make appeasing China a political no-no. The pressure will also go on torch-bearers such as pediatrician Fiona Stanley and humanitarian Gillian Hicks to pull out from the Canberra leg – whether in support of democracy, Tibet, the Falun Gong, Darfur or so many other casualties of China’s autocrats.
Through 20 countries this torch will run, and each will have this debate. China will come under a scrutiny it’s never had before, and not before time.
What a marvellously subversive idea it’s turned out to be, after all, giving the Games to Beijing. Let’s make the very most of it.
– source: Andrew Bolt – news.com.au
I’ve donated $AUS 500 to the Amnesty International campaign Against Chinese Internet Censorship
Become a Human Rights Defender today and support Amnesty International Australia with a regular monthly donation. Help to defend human rights in China and around the world.
The Olympics serve not only as an arena where the best athletes in the world compete, but also as a place where international politics collide. As much as the IOC likes to deny it, there’s a long history of politics at the Olympic games: from Nazi Appeasement in 1936 to Cold War boycotts in 1980/1984, the famous Black Power protests in 1968 and Midnight Oils “Sorry” t-shirts in the 2000 Sydney Olympics closing ceremony.
There are 2 sides to the argument and I have collected quotes from each side:
Supporters of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
The Australian Olympic Committee does not support a boycott of the Beijing Games because of concerns about human rights in China, committee president John Coates said Monday.
Deadly violence in Tibet has raised some calls to boycott the sporting showcase.
But Coates said Australia agreed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy that boycotting the event would only hurt the athletes participating.
– source: AFP
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge poured cold water Saturday on calls for a boycott of the Summer Games in Beijing over China’s crackdown in Tibet, saying it would only hurt athletes.
“We believe that the boycott doesn’t solve anything,” Rogge told reporters … “On the contrary, it is penalizing innocent athletes and it is stopping the organization from something that definitely is worthwhile organizing.”
“The International Olympic Committee has consistently resisted calls for a boycott of the Olympic games,” Rogge said. He declined to comment further on Tibet during a brief news conference.
IOC Vice President Thomas Bach said the committee will speak with China about human rights and condemned the crackdown, saying “every use of violence is a step backwards.”
But “a boycott would be the wrong way because that will cut lines of communication,” he added.
– source: Associated Press
On a personal level, I’m against a boycott of the Olympics. To me, the event is a celebration of individual achievement and the global village – a chance for young athletes to come together and compete against the best that the world has to offer. For many, it’s the only chance they’ve got. Politics is the ever-shifting backdrop. Jesse Owens’ gold medal in the 1936 Olympics is all the more memorable because he won it in Nazi Germany.
For business, a boycott would be destructive and hypocritical. Many companies are already tripping over each other to woo China’s 1.3 billion consumers. They are engaged in joint ventures that have them manufacturing equipment, selling services and otherwise actively doing business within the country. They rely on imports from China or may be exporting to there, too.
– Source: BusinessWeek – Why Business Shouldn’t Boycott the Olympics
Opponents of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games
When the International Olympic Committee assigned the 2008 summer Olympic Games to Beijing on 13 July 2001, the Chinese police were intensifying a crackdown on subversive elements, including Internet users and journalists. Six years later, nothing has changed. But despite the absence of any significant progress in free speech and human rights in China, the IOC’s members continue to turn a deaf ear to repeated appeals from international organisations that condemn the scale of the repression.
From the outset, Reporters Without Borders has been opposed to holding the Olympic Games to Beijing.
– source Reporters Without Borders: Repression continues in China, six months before Olympic Games
The Australia Tibet Council says the International Olympic Committee must make China accountable for what it describes as grave violations of human rights in Tibet.
The council’s executive officer Paul Bourke says China has not honoured the human rights commitments that it made in its bid for this year’s Beijing Olympics.
“When the Olympics were awarded to China, they gave certain guarantees about improvements in human rights and media freedom,” he said.
“It’s backsliding on those guarantees. For the Olympics to go ahead in China, the international community is particular the IOC must hold China to those promises that were made.”
– ABC News: China must be held to Olympic promises: Aust Tibet Council
“I would agree in that the best option for those athletes with moral objections to China’s actions would be to boycott.
That being said the image of the Black power salutes of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium at the 1968 Mexico Olympics is very powerful, got a lot of media attention and drew attention to the issue they were trying to get across. It could be argued that if a full boycott does not happen, then the message of individual athletes would gain greater media attention if they protested at the games, rather than failing to attend.
I for one would love to see the three people on the winners podium take of their tracksuits and they have Tibetan flags underneath – it would be a massive embarrassment to China and show very well that we in the ‘free’ world do not agree with their actions.”
– “Ian” commenting on the ABC News story Australian Olympians ‘won’t be gagged’
The Chinese crackdown in Tibet has sparked a call from Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett for Australian athletes to boycott the Beijing Olympics.
Senator Bartlett says awarding the Olympics to China was meant to encourage it to improve its human rights record but he says that hope has been well and truly dashed.
Senator Bartlett says the time for hoping China improves its record on human rights is over. “People shouldn’t kid themselves,” he said.
“The Communist regime in China is one of the worst human rights abusers in the world and by participating in the Olympics when that country is not improving its performance – I think we’ve got to look at whether that makes us complicit in them.”
– source: ABC News: Bartlett urges Olympics boycott over Tibet
This summer’s Olympics won’t make a blind bit of difference to Chinese tyranny and it’s naive to think they will
Just over seven decades ago, thousands of athletes from all over the globe were preparing to compete in the most controversial sporting event of modern times – the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
They were determined to show that good sportsmanship would triumph over tyranny and conflict.
In their naivety, the competitors thought that the lofty ideals of the “Olympic spirit” would cause Hitler’s three-year-old regime to embrace the virtues of peace, non-discrimination and freedom of expression.
How wrong they were. As everybody now knows, the Olympics gave the Nazis an enormous propaganda coup.
Despite the four gold medals of Jesse Owens, the Germans were able to hoodwink the world into believing that they were as civilised a nation as any other.
The Olympian flag had been used to blinker the world to the brutal excesses of a hateful regime. And now, history is all set to repeat itself.
– Source: UK Daily Mail
Colbert Report – Apr 3 2008 – The Word – “Let The Games Begin”
On a slightly lighter note, American satirical comedian Stephen Colbert has a solution to the controversy surrounding the Beijing Olympic Games (watch the video below)
What do you think? Should We Boycott Chinas 2008 Beijing Olympic Games?