A former Liberal cabinet minister in Ottawa, David Kilgour, is leading a charge that Canada should boycott next year’s Olympic Games in Bejing because of China’s record of human rights violations.
Kilgour is not the only one. In Washington several U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation calling for a boycott of the games and a British Conservative member of the European Parliament called on Britain to also pull out, saying: “The civilized world must seriously consider shunning China.”
Must it? It seems to me that previous boycotts, e.gl President Carter’s refusal to go to the Russian Games in 1980, fell most heavily on the athletes themselves. They are the ones who pay the price for a boycott. Should Canada prohibit its athletes, now in training, from going to Bejing next summer?
On the other hand, should Canada treat these games the same way we would as if they were in the United States or Britain and pay no heed to the way China treats some minorities like the practitioners of Falun Gong, a peaceful peace group that preaches compassion and tolerance?
How do we protest China’s continuing human rights violations without unduly penalizing our athletes?