Saturday, March 22, 2008

Please don't mix politics with the Olympics

In light of what the Chinese government has been doing in Tibet as of late, there has been increased murmuring about a possible boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in China. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) should have known better than to award these Olympic Games to an evil, totalitarian country like China. The crackdown currently going on Tibet serves to remind the IOC of that fact.

However, as much as I dislike China's policies regarding Tibet, regarding forced abortions and infanticides, harvesting the organs of executed political prisoners, and a myriad of other issues, I do not support a boycott of the Olympic Games in any way, shape, or form. A boycott has happened in two other Olympics - it accomplished nothing, and it was hypocritical to boot.

The United States and its allies (sans Great Britain) sat out the 1980 Moscow Olympics in order to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Did it get the Soviets out of Afghanistan? No, they didn't leave until 1988. Then, four years later, the Soviets and their allies (sans Romania) boycotted the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Did that do any good either? No. In both cases, government officials, diplomats, and the average Joe didn't experience a lick of difference in their lives. Amateur atheletes on the other hand - athletes who dedicated their lives to sport and only had so many chances to make it to the Games - were devastated.

Boycotting an Olympics is hypocritical because that is the only thing that is boycotted; other relations with the country in question go on. Let's say the United States did boycott the Games in Beijing: would we stop trading with China? If what China is currently doing is bad enough for its Olympics to be boycotted, then it is only right that we should stop buying their goods as well. Boycotting an Olympics is an empty gesture that only hurts the athletes and the viewers who have both spent the last four years awaiting the world's best competition.

The interesting part about this state of affairs is that when the Olympics were going on over 2,000 years ago in Greece, wars were actually postponed or suspended while the Olympics were under way. Once the games ended, the war started back up again. Compare that to the modern Olympics when they were canceled in 1916, 1940, and 1944 due to the two World Wars. If a war couldn't stop the ancient Olympic Games, then a disagreement with a host country's policies shouldn't either. In the future, the IOC should circumvent the issue by only awarding the Olympics to countries that have a proven track record as one that does its best to champion human rights, not violate them.

Good Day to You, Sir


Larry Sheldon said...

How do you feel about the fact that (apparently) some of the athletes can not operate in the polluted air there? What should they do?

Law and Order Teacher said...

The government should never, ever get involved with athletics. In 80 they robbed the athletes in the summer Olympics of their lifetime dream. I they think they can survive in the pollution let them go. If they don't let them make that decision. Government intervention is not warranted in this instance.

Anonymous said...

I agree. In an ideal world, sports should be treated seperatly from politics. However, there are times when politics interferes with sport and so a reaction is required from the world of sport. For example, the apartheid regime in South Africa affected sports and so sporting authorities (cricket in particular) were correct in establishing a boycott.

Anonymous said...

The only responsibility of the the government that I am concerned about in the upcoming Olympics is their role in security for the athletes.

The tragedy of 1972 was executed by the PLO and there are many more Islamic extremist groups today that would like to bring glory to themselves by massacring infidels in such a public venue.

W.R. Chandler said...

Oh yeah, the athletic boycott on South Africa did a lot of good - the BLACK athletes from South Africa were banned from international competition too.

Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

The black atheletes were not being selected for the teams. That was the issue. Apartheid meant that selection was reserved for white players. It also meant that black players from other teams were not permitted to play against white teams in South Africa.

THAT is why the boycott was acceptable.

W.R. Chandler said...

donalbain, your claim is not entirely true. I remember a feature done during the 1988 Olympics that followed the plight of black South African track runners and marathoners who were not allowed to compete internationally by the IOC and the IAAF.

Nothing like hurting the people you are claiming to help - it is the leftist way!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but the reason there was a boycott was because of the apartheit policies of the sporting organisations of South Africa. The national sporting organisations of that country had racist policies, both for their own selection processes and for the teams they would play against. It was NOT a coincidence that SA only played cricket against New Zealand, Australia and England while not playing against India or Pakistan or any African nation. It was also not a coincidence that D'Oilivier had to come to England to play cricket (he was non white). Similarly, when he was selected to play for England in a tour of SA, the SA sporting authorities refused to allow him to play in the country. That is why the cricket authorities began the boycott. If you are not willing to play properly with the other teams, then you don't get to play at all. Other sports had similar or identical policies, including, but not limited to rugby, football, AND athletics. In fact, under the laws of South Africa, ANY mixed race sporting event was illegal, including the practice of running black and white in the same marathon.

Anonymous said...

Donalbain -

You are using the wrong term. South Africa was banned (barred from attending) by the IOC from the Olympics from 1964-1992. They could not compete even if they wanted to.

In 1976 26 African countries boycotted (refused to attend) the Montreal Olympics because the IOC refused to ban New Zealand after that country's rugby team played a series of games in South Africa.

Anonymous said...

They were banned by the IOC because the South African Olympic Committee did not abide by the rules and spirit of the Olympic movement. The South African sporting organisations operated an apartheit system, which is against the IOC charter. As such, they forfeitted the right to take part in Olympic events. The boycotts and bans were the direct result of the evil practices of the SPORTING organisations of South Africa.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I should add that in these cases it was SPORTING bodies who operated the boycotts and bans, rather than government. Which is the ideal solution. Crimes against sporting bodies should be punished by the sporting bodies.

Anonymous said...

The 1976 BOYCOTT was initiated by several African countries petitioning the IOC to BAN New Zealand whose rugby team (not an Olympic sport) toured South African. The IOC refused to BAN New Zealand and so 26 African countries decided they would BOYCOTT the Olympics as a protest against the IOC's decision which the felt was a sign of support for South Africa.

This affected 300 athletes including many who held world records. The countries that boycotted were: Libya, Iraq, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Gambia, Sudan, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Togo, Niger, Congo, Mauritius, Upper Volta and Malawi.

The boycott changed nothing and New Zealand was not the only country whose rugby team toured South Africa. Why New Zealand was picked as the country to be banned, I don't know.

The only ones who suffered were the athletes whose countries used the boycott as a political statement.

Anonymous said...

New Zealand were the only team who had an OFFICIAL tour. The others were "rebel tours" that operated outside the remit of the official sporting authorities.