11 April 2008
There are many voices condeming the Olympic Torch relay protestors for not respecting the spirit of the games. There aren't many observers condeming China for doing the same thing.
Maybe that's because China does embody the ideals of the Olympic movement. As said in yesterday's Crikey:
"The idea that prior Western Olympics have been held by virtuous nations is laughable. The modern competition was invented by Baron de wossname as a way of inculcating the military virtues he thought French youth needed in the wake of the nation's 1870 defeat at the hands of Prussia, and most of the modern pageantry was invented by Hitler in '36."
Anyway, the athletes aren't happy. Former marathon winner Paula Radcliffe has released a statement condeming the protests, saying that the Olympic ideals are bigger than Beijing. Well, surely the fate of the people of Tibet is more important than a few silly races?
At least Radcliffe has put some thought into it. Many athletes haven't, as witnessed by the stream of young sportspeople trailing across the television news saying they "just want to compete". How many of them actually have a clue what's going on?
Australia has never missed an Olympics before. Should we go to this one? I hold with the Head of Human Rights Watch, in their open letter to heads of government, regarding conditions that should be met before attendance is guaranteed. But with our Sinophile Prime Minister and dependence on Chinese trade, I won't hold my breath.
Maybe some good will come of all this, if China is shamed into action on Tibet. Shame hasn't worked on the U.S., but you never know.
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