The Olympics are all about politics

Friday, March 21, 2008

I always thought the clique that is behind all things Olympic was comprised of people with no concept of reality.
The Games must go on — even if the world’s going to hell.
Or at least a large part of it.
Sports are wonderful. To see an athlete at his or her prime, competing and completing, is truly a sight to behold.
But it’s not a sight worth beholding if it means we must not look at other sights.
Have we really forgotten Tiananmen Square? Has that image of a lone student staring down an Chinese army tank faded away?
Are the news photographs of bloodied — but unbowed — Tibetan monks being relegated to the dustbins of our minds?
Ignore the fact this group of elitists, led by Olympics head Jacques Rogge, made the unfathomable decision to send the elite athletes of the world to a country where the air alone could kill them.
That’s enough to make you wonder what they were thinking.
But the arrogance of Rogge to announce his organization “has to deal with sports, does not have to deal with politics,” is beyond incredible.
Does he not remember the 1972 Olympic Games that saw Israeli athletes slaughtered?
Has he never seen a picture of Jesse Owens, a black man, celebrating his gold medals at the Berlin Olympics of 1936? The politics of a black American winning in a country ruled by Adolf Hitler could not be more apparent.
How about 1968, when Tommie Smith took the podium, his gold medal and, along with bronze medallist John Carlos, promptly gave a Black Power salute?
Of course the Olympics are all about politics.
They’re all about what country has the best athletes, the best secret doping system, the best advertising campaign — heck, the best mascots, even.
Which is why no one can possibly support the Summer Olympics in Beijing this year. Not as long as the Chinese government continues to crack down on the people of Tibet, a country it has claimed as its own and whose government it forced into exile decades ago.
It is laughable to think anyone will believe Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when he says the Tibetan monks and other supporters of the Dalai Lama are fighting with the Chinese just to sabotage the Beijing Olympics. It’s more likely they continue to be fed up with being controlled and dictated to by the Chinese government.
What does Rogge expect will happen when they take the Olympic flame through Tibet in June on its way to Beijing?
Spontaneous applause?
Rogge has said no country is considering a boycott. He must not read the news, since members of the French Olympic committee are doing just that — at least for the flashy opening gala.
Other countries’ leaders are being condemned editorially for not speaking out about this travesty, where athletes are to ignore the long record of human-rights violations for which the Chinese have normally received condemnation, and put on a happy face for a few weeks to promote their sport, their country — and their own wallets.
Just this week, journalists were banned from covering the upheaval in Tibet. A CBC-TV reporter was forced to use a small cameraphone to shoot video of Tibetans fleeing a heavily armed and reinforced Chinese army.
It’s unlikely few countries — and no athletes — will put the lack of human rights in China before their own self-aggrandizement. After all, the eyes of each nation will be upon them as they take to the track, the fields, the overblown, expensive opening and closing ceremonies.
Unfortunately, once they have all headed home, nothing will really have changed in China.
It will have held the international spotlight for a few days, pretending there is nothing seriously wrong with the country.
China will continue to dominate Tibet. It will continue to send its army in to quell any uprising anywhere, anytime.
Just as the Games must go on, so too will China’s dismissal of basic human rights.