Friday, April 04, 2008

Hypocrisy Games

I’m not going to single any one person out because a lot of people are hopping on this boycott-the-opening-ceremony bandwagon. I realize that China’s record on human rights leaves quite a bit to be desired and I suppose that something should be done but skipping out on the opening ceremony is not going to change things. It’s actually a little trite. So China’s not quite evil enough to warrant a full boycott of the games, eh?

Personally I think Olympic boycotts are pretty gutless. Why should the athletes have to suffer for society’s inability to solve these problems? For the most part these are kids who, for better or worse, dedicate their lives to being the best in a particular sport. For most, since gymnasts and long distance runners seldom have professional opportunities, the Olympics is their one moment to shine. The vast majority of Olympians get one shot at the podium because the games only come around once every four years.

The International Olympic Committee had the chance to make a statement by rejecting China’s bid to host the Olympics which would have been fair because the games would have gone on but for world leaders to even consider marring the games by dragging political issues into a celebration of athletic competition and sportsmanship is a dereliction of duty. Don't hide behind the Olympics to pick a fight with China.

China’s been in the Human Rights cross hairs for decades but that hasn’t stopped countries around the world from openly and aggressively trading with China. Right here in the USA we depend on China to provide us with cheap goods and services so we can have more disposable income to spend at Applebee’s. China’s economy is growing at a remarkable rate even though that growth has been on the backs of an oppressed workforce. Where’s the outrage the other three years out of the Olympiad?

The Olympics always give me hope. Race, religion, culture and creed are put aside in the name of sport and for a few weeks every four years the rivalry between various nations becomes good natured. Why ruin that?

There are those who argue that ignoring China’s abuses to celebrate the games is betraying they who can’t defend themselves. By allowing China to preen on the global stage we are condoning brutal oppression. I say that the opposite is true. By taking a stand against China on the Olympic stage we make a mockery of those very issues. Boycotting the Opening ceremony says that we want to put on a good show of compassion but after everything is said and done we welcome a return to business as usual. That’s because we’ll be watching the Olympics on electronic devices manufactured in China.

Worse than not caring about an issue is pretending you do. Boycotting the Olympics is just a big public display that does nothing and boycotting the opening ceremonies is a little more than a wink in China’s direction. If you want to send a message, hit China where it hurts. Don't use the Olympics as a soap box.

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