When the IOC awarded the Olympics to China (over Toronto) did no one see the dangers in that decision?

Surely it could have been foreseen that the human rights issue in China itself and the inhumanity in Tibet would both be raised in the Olympic context. What probably no one foresaw was the cruel crackdown of the Tibetans by the Chinese army.

And so we have the mini-riots in London and Paris (and tomorrow in San Francisco) along the parade route of the Olympic torch.

At the time the Olympics were awarded to Bejing, it was said this would result in more openess in China and more harmony between China and the West. The exact opposite has happened. China has reacted with anger and censorship of the offending pictures of the disrupted torch parade. Prime Minister Harper has announced he will not attend the Bejing opening ceremonies. Senator Clinton as asked President Bush not to go either. The Olympics are supposed to be about sport. But in 2008 they are about politics.

There is one silver lining on this dark cloud. Up to now the plight of Tibet has never been treated with enough urgency to give pause to China. The reaction of Tibetans, even the melees around the torch, are pretty mild compared to the Chinese regime which in recent moths has opened fire on civilian protesters, beaten monks and denied due process to more than 1,000 detainees.

Tibetans now have a narrow window in which to present their case for more autonomy to the world. At the very least Chinese authorities should sit down and dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Was it a mistake to give the Olympics to China?

Where do we go from here?



  1. 1
    Joe Agnost Says:

    « Was it a mistake to give the Olympics to China? »

    Not in my mind it wasn’t. It has put China’s abusive policies front and center and that can’t hurt!

    The olympics are a HUGE waste of money so I’m incredibly thankful that Toronto didn’t get them! Vancouver is paying now and will continue to pay for many years after the olympics have left BC!!

    I’ll watch because I enjoy watching sports. I’ll cheer for canada because I love canada. But I would be just as happy if they finally did away the games altogether… what a waste of money!!!

  2. 2
    Paul Costopoulos Says:

    Montreal hosted the games in 1976 with many assurances they would be self-financing. Quebec taxpayers finished paying for the deficit last July 2007. Good luck Vancouver.
    As for China it reveals itself warts and all in a way never possible otherwise. It also shows the Games to have become a political machine and, for the I.O.C. at least a money making gimmick with the athletes mere pawn in the larger scheme.

  3. 3
    SUZANNE Says:

    It was a mistake in the sense that it’s bad PR for the Olympics, but I agree with Joe that the silver lining is that the Tibetans get to make their case.

    I’ll probably watch, too. I think boycotts don’t do much. In fact, if the protesters can make a scene, I think it’s probably better if we all watch.

    I think they should go back to amateur athletes only, and limit the number of sports allowed. Beach Volleyball as a sport? No, sorry. Not to me it isn’t.

  4. 4
    Chimera Says:

    Hasn’t anyone figured it out? The Olympics has always been about political show-and-tell. Sports are only the medium.

    I could wish that Toronto would have gotten the nod from the IOC instead of China, because that would take the pressure off Vancouver (whose homeless population, it was just released, has jumped alarmingly in the last month due to Olympics-related housing issues).

    The recent squealings from the IOC and their pleading with countries not to « allow » boycott of the games in China isn’t because they have any concern for the athletes, as they’re trying to pretend. They are concerned for their own profits. If the boycott goes ahead, the IOC might go broke. And that might mean that the games in Vancouver get cancelled. As good a reason as any to boycott, I say — go for it!

    Harper had always planned not to attend the opening ceremonies. This is not news. He has simply very carefully avoided commenting (banning the press has its upside, I guess). But it’s now time to pressure him and other national leaders and heads of state into taking a public and definite stand: boycott or be seen as an international wimp.

    And for those who cry, « But what about the athletes? » Well, what about them? Is this the only game in town? Is this a profession, now? There are other, more lucrative ways to make a living, doncha think?

    Besides, there will always be athletes and shows of athletic prowess. It’s human nature. We just really need to get rid of the governing body (IOC), scrap the current model, and start over again with a set of games that truly focuses on the athletes by letting the athletes themselves run it!

    Afterthought: I’m a little disappointed that the torch isn’t coming to Vancouver. We’d make sure the fire went out!

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