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Olympic Dreams

Well, the latest notion floating around the blogosphere is whether or not the US should boycott this summer's Olympics in China -- either entirely or partly.

I am of two minds on this.

On the one hand, I wouldn't mind if the athletes chose to boycott the games. From what I've heard, the pollution in and around Beijing is on the scale of Mexico City, if not worse. The air and the water are supposed to be horrific, and that can't be good for athletes.

But the other push is for President Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies and not give an address.

As loath as I am to bring politics into the Games, let's face it -- that ship left the dock a LONG time ago. I would be tremendously proud of President Bush if he were to start off praising the dedication and determination of the athletes, and their performances, and all that, and then compare their embodiment of the loftiest human ideals and individual accomplishments with the brutal oppression and crushing of individualism under such tyrannical regimes as, say, China. I am quite certain that the Chinese (who have made every promise of exerting iron-fisted control over pretty much any reports from the Games, particularly for their own people) will prevent at least domestic coverage of Bush's remarks, but that, too, would be a part of the message.

And then I recall a certain quirk of history: whenever a dictatorship hosts the Olympics, it seems that within a relatively short time that dictatorship falls. Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany planned to make the 1936 Games a showpiece of Aryan supremacy; ten years later, they were all dead, imprisoned, or on the run. The Soviet Union was proud as punch to host the 1980 Games in Moscow; the Soviet Union itself would barely survive a decade. And Tito's Yugoslavia showcased the triumph of communism over ethnic and tribal and historic rivalries for the 1984 Games, and we all know how well that turned out.

I note that Sochi in Russia has been chosen for the 2014 Winter games; that should be interesting, if Russia continues its "march forward to the past" course it has been setting.

So yeah, it's a shame that politics has tainted the Olympic spirit. But I find myself moved by the spirit of Patrick Henry: "If this be treason, make the most of it."


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Comments (9)

You aren't implying some so... (Below threshold)
matthew:

You aren't implying some sort of causal relationship between the Olympics and democratization, are you?

No, matthew, I am not falli... (Below threshold)

No, matthew, I am not falling for the "correlation equals causation" fallacy. But it's certainly something to consider, especially if we keep talking about it in front of the incredibly paranoid (and culturally superstitious -- you familiar with Feng Shui?) Chinese government...

J.

I think that any boycot of ... (Below threshold)
Denny:

I think that any boycot of the games is a mistake, simply because if it is "Out of Sight" it will be "Out of Mind." The atheletes need to go and compete and if the Polution levels are bad let them say so, then let the press take a look at the problem. (I believe I read that the cycling team was considering using oxygen tanks while competing, let them if they win say "I could not have done it with out the air tank I had.")
If you want to protest the crack down in Tibet, wear an arm band while competing to let the world know that you stand with Tibet. I am reminded by the American Chess Players (I think they were protesting the Iraq war by holding a down with bush sign while getting their medals) they made their point. If an athelete wants to show support for Tibet write I support Tibet on their foreheads while competing or at the medal ceremony. Not showing up is a poor way to show support for a cause.

Haha, hadn't considered tha... (Below threshold)
matthew:

Haha, hadn't considered that. I'm all for it.

But what are you implying about Feng Shui? I had lousy chi, but I paid this old guy with a beard to rearrange my furniture and then the Raptors made the playoffs!

Hey Denny, what do you mean "if" the pollution levels are bad? Beijing is disgusting. I lived in Seoul, and I thought it was the worst possible air quality, but in Beijing you can get stains on your teeth after being outside for a few hours. Don't wear white shirts there.

Gosh, you'd think all the p... (Below threshold)
SteveC:

Gosh, you'd think all the people who are enamored with "human rights" and how China treats its own people would be behind a military force that takes down actual human rights violators (and actual torturers) and installs democracy...hmm. Wonder what crazy country that might be.

An interesting little tidbi... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

An interesting little tidbit I learned yesterday: The torch procession started with, who else...Germany in 1936. I, for one, regardless of its origins, have always thought that the hoopla surrounding it was BS. In my opinion, the IOC is too much like the UN, giving passes to totalitarians and thugs.

I think the Olympic Games i... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

I think the Olympic Games is an chance for countries to put their best characteristics forward. I think it is sad if one best is the use violence and cheap political stunts. It show lack of class and control. There is a time for place for everything. The Olympic Games, wedding or funerals are not a place for protest or negative politics. Showing national pride during the Olympics, sure. Saying "go McCain" or "down with Russia and U.S.A" no.

When I see the Olympic torch protest, I am disgusted with the protestors and not with China. It actually makes me sympathetic for China which government I don't care for. Then again, I think the protestors care less about Tibet than the do about protesting. If it wasn't Tibet it would have been something else.

Biejing Picture. This is n... (Below threshold)
David:

Biejing Picture. This is not fog or humidity:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,491184,00.html

My right to Tivo Slavic pix... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

My right to Tivo Slavic pixies jumping around in high-cut leotards and bare legs overides Tibet's human rights.




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