Much Ado About The Olympics
What should we do about the Olympics? While most people agree that even now we shouldn't boycott the Games and destroy the dreams of thousands of athletes, some argue that we should at least boycott the Opening Ceremony to make a statement. I couldn't disagree more. The time to boycott and make a stand against these Games was before they were ever awarded to China. But instead, Olympic officials made a bet:
Today's election took place by secret ballot, and delegates of the Olympic committee declined to reveal how they voted. Beijing appeared to receive broad international support beyond the developing nations where it has gained favor by building sports stadiums over the years. Sandra Baldwin, the president of the United States Olympic Committee, said she was ''O.K. with Beijing.''
''I think the Olympics should supersede politics,'' she added. ''It's the greatest peacetime event in the world.''
It was clear, however, said François Carrard, the executive director of the I.O.C., that delegates faced one overriding political issue with regard to Beijing: human rights.
''Some people say, because of serious human rights issues, 'We close the door and say no,' '' Mr. Carrard said. ''The other way is to bet on openness. Bet on the fact that in the coming seven years, openness, progress and development in many areas will be such that the situation will be improved. We are taking the bet that seven years from now we will see many changes.''
When you place a bet and you lose, you don't get to walk away. You have to pay up. And so, the rest of us are going to have to suck it up for a few weeks (or months, in the case of the torch relay) and let the Games go on. I know that many people think that boycotting just the Opening Ceremony won't cause that much harm, but I again disagree. Only a small fraction of athletes are at the Games to win. For most of the them, it's about the experience and other than competing in their specific event, I'm betting that the Opening Ceremony is their most memorable experience. Let's not ruin it for them to appease our guilt over awarding China the games in the first place.
And it's not even just about the athletes, for spectators, even those just watching on TV, the Opening Ceremony is a big deal. Nevermind NBC's doom and gloom, hyper-political coverage, the Opening Ceremony is just plain cool. We get a little taste of the culture of just about every country on Earth. It sounds cheesy, but we're part of the world. We really do come together and it really is wonderful.
It's about that, it's not about us. It's not even about China. China is just the facility. Think of it this way: Your best friend is getting married. She chooses to have her reception at a country club where you know the workers aren't treated well. You discourage her from having the reception there, but your concerns are overridden for a variety of reasons. Do you boycott the wedding? Of course not. You go and enjoy yourself and make the best of it for your friend's sake. Afterwards, you can talk trash about the accommodations all you want, but you go because your friend is more important than making a stand against the reception hall. Likewise, I genuinely believe that the Olympics are more important than sticking it to China over the same human rights violations that have been going on for years and years and years. At least for two or three weeks in August.
What do you think?
Posted by at April 7, 2008 12:48 PM
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|# April 7th, 2008 8:28 PM themandownthehall|
|Yeah, Carter showed what a glorious success boycotting olympiads amount to.
I for one can't wait to see the Chinese opening ceremony. I hope it is as cool as the one Barcelona did. That one was just incredible.
|# April 8th, 2008 9:41 AM jagorham|
|I still think the best corporate slap-in-the-face Olympic opening ceremony moments happened in the Athens games.
During a very clever sequence, where they had shadows projected on oversized Greek urns to mimick the classic ones, the announcers described a "winner bestowed with a laurel wreath by the Greek goddess of victory."
Of course, they couldn't mention that Greek goddess by name, lest they offend the Official Outfitter of that Olympiad, Reebok. :p