8.07.2008

Disrespectful Refusal to Cooperate

With the opening act of the marketing charade that is the Beijing Olympics just a day or so away, there will be many, many blog posts for and against the games. On the against side are the people who find it an affront to all that is decent and right and good in the world to award the Olympics to China in the first place. China's a nation that routinely tramples human rights, routinely belches toxic exhaust into the air, routinely engages in animal abuses, has had its foot on the throat of Tibet for, what seems like, ever and seemingly has no shame in doing any of these things.

The Olympic Games are supposed to represent the highest ideals of international sportsmanship. The games are supposed to be a gathering of the greatest amateur athletes from around the world to compete on a level playing field for all the world to watch and appreciate and laud their heroes.

Instead it is a sham. The spirit of the games has been extinguished by greed, politics and the almighty dollar (or rather euro since the dollar ain't so almight these days, thanks and heckuva job, Georgie).

My friend, Jack, details his objections much more eloquently than I am doing.
Close to 1.5 million people were evicted from their homes in order to make way for Olympic venues and stores from which multinational corporations can hawk their wares. Freedom of speech and expression, never a hallmark of the Chinese experience under the best of circumstance, has been repressed to degree unprecedented even by Chinese standards. The Chinese occupation and repression of Tibet continues unchecked, and their support for the Sudanese genocide in Darfur is not exactly a state secret. Human rights abuses are rife within China as well. The Chinese government has denied visas to individuals and groups that they've deemed to be threatening (usually because they intend to speak openly and truthfully about human rights violations and Chinese involvement and complicity into the ongoing tragedy in Darfur). THIS is what the Olympic movement is about?
He is boycotting the games in spite of his love of them growing up. I am boycotting the games as well.

One of my other reasons for boycotting them is because of asshats like Kobe Bryant, a PROFESSIONAL basketball player, playing for Team USA. All of the players for Team USA Basketball make their living playing basketball. This is not the spirit of the games, this is the spirit of must-win-at-all-costs-regardless.

But if the games were going to be held in a free nation then this would be my main problem. With the games being held in China, this is much less of an issue and the greater issue of awarding the games to a repressive nation like China takes center stage.

There is, of course, the other side of the coin. That boycotting the games hurts our athletes by not cheering them on to victory. And I can't say that I disagree with that sentiment. But I would cheer ever more loudly for athletes who qualified for the games publicly refusing to attend because of the location and policies of the host nation.

Where do you stand? Will you watch? Does the political aspect of the games affect your interest? What about professional players taking part?

For my own part, I will be doing my best to avoid any knowledge of or interest in this Olympic Games. It won't make a lick of difference to the IOC and their sponsors but it will make a world of difference to me.
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