What To Do

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
This whole China Olympics business has got me in a tither.

Unless you're dead, you've likely heard about the ongoing, world-wide protests against China's actions in Tibet. Most of the protesters are calling for countries around the world to boycott the Olympics and force China to change its stand on Tibet. I wholeheartedly agree. How successful have they been? Not at all. So far, not a single country has said that they will boycott the games and take a stand against China. Way to go world! Oh, but wait, you say...many world leaders ARE boycotting...the opening ceremonies. Um...what? What the hell does that prove? You're not willing to show up at the opening ceremonies but you're still willing to have your country take part in games hosted by the country with one of the worst human rights records in the entire world? Yeah, that sends a message. That you're chumps.

Boycotting the opening ceremonies means nothing. What has happened to the world? Remember the days when the US (and Canada among others) boycotted the 1980 Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan? Or when two African-American athletes raised their fists in a Black Power salute while the anthem played during their medal ceremony at the Mexico games in '68? Despite the cries of those who say the Olympics should be free of politics, it's not. In an ideal world, it would be, and I too wish it were, but guaranteed even in ancient Greece, politics creeped it's ugly head into the mix.

Think about it. What other occasion do you have a truly world wide captive audience (thanks to the invention of the television and now the internet)? If the rest of the world were truly serious about taking a stand against China, now is the time to do it. Frankly I'm shocked they were even awarded the games in the first place. Sure it would be great to showcase China's amazing history and culture, but their "modern" history is reprehensible. Boycotting the opening ceremonies is nothing more than a token symbolic gesture which will not accomplish anything. Will China really care if George Bush, Gordon Brown, or Steven Harper don't show up for the fireworks as long as their athletes, trainers, coaches, family, friends, and tourists come to Beijing and spend their money, thereby boosting the already booming Chinese economy and funnelling more western currency into the country? Not a lick.

And before anyone starts yelling at me about the athletes and them earning their chance to compete, etc. I totally agree. It's them that will suffer (and China as a whole) if the world boycotts the games but let's look at the bigger picture. Sometimes the few have to be sacrificed for the good of the whole. I realize this is how most of them make their living but people are being kidnapped, tortured, raped, and murdered. Sometimes there are more important things than playing games and there is a time to take a stand. Now is that time.

I think the world is waiting for a leader to step up. One country to be the first to say NO, WE'RE NOT GOING. OUR ATHLETES WILL NOT COMPETE. Unfortunately it will also have to be one of the major countries and not one of the smaller nations like ... Ghana for example: the UK, Canada, Russia, Australia, the United States, Germany... you get the idea. Once that happens, others will follow and China will get the message loud and clear. However, that's not going to happen. Why you ask? Is it because they're too scared of the backlash? Nope, although that might be part of it. No, the answer is ... MONEY. There's too much money already invested in advertising, training, etc to back out for most of these countries. And speaking of advertising, two of the major sponsors (and I find the fact that THESE two companies are sponsors of the biggest athletic event in the world) are Coca-Cola and McDonalds (which serves Coke products). Interestingly enough they're both American companies so you can be guaranteed that the US will not pull out now. It's also interesting to note that Coke doesn't have such a great record when it comes to how it treats workers around the world either... guess you'd call it's sponsorship of the games in China a match made in heaven.

Come on Canada, step up to the plate, take the plunge, and become a true world leader.



Wandering Coyote said...

I have a lot to say about this, too, and really should do a post about it. I have a post planned about the Vancouver Olympics as well. I have a Boycott 08 button if you want it. I can email it to you.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I have mixed feeling about this whole boycott. Yes, I support the rights of Tibetans to be free, just like I support the rights of Egyptians and Saudi Arabians to be free but when money is concerned the ruling class, be they capitalists or communists, will keep the people down so they can stay in power and make money.

Most Olympic athletes have a small window of time to do their thing and it's not right to expect them to not participate because China has a horrid human rights record.

The situation in Tibet has been festering for over 40 years and boycotting the games probably won't change it. What will change it is if we pass laws that say corporations in our countries can't do business with China.

sp said...

A boycott would be nice, but that's not going to happen. However, I do believe that the protests will not stop and that the games, once underway, will not go smoothly because everyone will be watching.

What is more disturbing to me is the continued push to scramble to do business with China suggesting that this is some sort of democratic surge forward. The cost? The environment, the people, and anything else that gets in the corporate machine's way.

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