Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Olympics should be politics-free

I have to say that I am not too thrilled with what's been happening during the Olympic torch relay around the world. The Olympics are in real jeopardy of being hijacked by the Free Tibet movement and I don't think it's appropriate. I prefer that the Olympics are kept unpolitical. Everyone can demonstrate (in a free country) on behalf of their political, religious, social or ideological beliefs in any manner they choose, but please leave the Olympics out of it. It's not what the Olympics are about. Athletes should focus on the spirit of the event and feel free to demonstrate their causes after the Games are over. If political leaders feel that boycotting the ceremonies is a worthy action, so be it - we are not tuning in to see them, we want to see the athletes, their mood a reflection of the competitions they are about to face. I don't like the commercialization of the Games either.

One thing I am looking forward to is the spotlight on China the Olympic venue will provide and I will relish getting a glimpse of this enigmatic superpower that has become the new 'pusher' to our insatiable appetite for consumer goods.


Bernie May said...

Really, you're that naive?

A super-national organization awards the event to a third-world country in transition. An organization that markets and protects its brand like a grumpy, clueless record executive. A country that desperately wants this event in order to marks it's ascendance to the first world, both for external and internal consumption. An organization that awarded the event to the country despite international misgivings, on the premise that the country could be gently coached into adopting human rights. This would be the carrot approach.

I think there hasn't been any movement on the Tibet issue because there's never been any leverage to pull on the Chinese government before. This would be the stick approach. What they thought was going to be a wonderful public relations exercise might just still backfire on them in a huge way, internally and externally. I'll skip the obvious comparisons to the 1936 Olympics, Hitler, and the torch run.

Retro Blog said...

I think the Olympics needs to be hijacked into the 21st century. I vote for a 24/7 Olympics channel, equal access to all. No politics um other than advertisements of course. (evil grin)

Karl Plesz said...

Bernie: My wishes are not rooted in reality, they're just wishes.

China does indeed stand to lose a great deal if this Tibet thing backfires on them. But even though the Tibet issue is getting the attention pro-Tibet independence people wanted, it also sets a bad precedent. In the future, any time a country is hosting the Olympics, they could be held hostage to any issue that the world decides to champion at that moment. The Games would never be the same.

Honestly, if the world cares so much about what China is doing wrong, they should speak with their wallets and stop buying their goods. That is a more appropriate response.

Bernie May said...

You mean like the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, where the indigenous population are watching the current Tibet kafuffle very closely, raising an eyebrow, and muttering things like "land claims" and "settlements". That kind of precedent?

Yea, that would be a real shame for our federal and provincial governments to be internationally embarrassed into finally doing the right thing.

Besides, I think that boat's already sailed. It's always been a political football, and has been since 1936 at least. I might have some sympathy for the whole Olympic thing if it hadn't been run like a personal fiefdom or extra-legal nation for the last 50 years, but that's just me.