This year’s Summer Olympics should be used as a platform to highlight human rights issues in China.
From the very first moment that China was awarded the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games there has been a certain degree of opposition to that decision. As we get ever closer to the Games we see more and more visual protests towards China and ever more increasing outcry from people opposing Chinese Governmental policies. The Olympic Games is a sporting event uniting the whole world, and is virtually unique in that way. Is it right that the Games should be used as a platform to highlight issues in China, on the basis that they exist at all, or should the Games be left out of everything?
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The Games provide a huge global audience to communicate to
The audience that is reached by the Olympics is absolutely vast, extending into billions of viewers worldwide. Any form of protest will bring about huge publicity and will get the views of the protesters out to many people. This would lead to a lot of pressure being put onto the Chinese government and any change is more likely to come about.
This year China will play host to the greatest sporting spectacle on the planet, the Summer Olympic Games. This spectacle should not be tarnished for the sake of politics.
Now is the perfect time for any change to happen
Since being awarded the games 6 years ago China has been putting in a vast amount of change. The government has been building infrastructure, promoting the spirit of the games and developing its country. The momentum of this change could easily be transferred to a change in governmental policy if that was so required, and so now is the perfect time for any changes to be made. China is currently a huge global focus and if they want to do anything publicly then now is the time.
Debate over the politics of China has been going on for decades without much impact. The Free Tibet movement has been in existence since the 1950s – what is different about 2008?
At the moment China is facing the significant task of delivering the Games on time, on budget and in such a way that they are safe and secure for all athletes and spectators. The government should be focusing on these important issues now.
It is the right of every athlete, spectator and government to express their own opinion
Recently the chiefs behind the British Olympic team have forced British athletes to sign a contract preventing them from speaking out about politically sensitive issues at the games. The censorship of competitors is itself a breach of their right to speak out about issues which they feel strongly about. This also applies to the governments and other highly influential visitors to the Games.
Direct action by athletes would violate the IOC charter.
History has shown that the Olympic games can be used as a platform for political messages.
In response to the invasion of Afghanistan, the US boycotted the 1980 Olympics.
In 1968 two American runners made the symbol of Black Power on the medals stand.
The value of the Olympics is first and foremost as an opportunity to display national pride and international sportsmanship, but it has also served as a method to issue a protest or make a statement without using violence.
Although experience is the key to most decisions, it has to be said that times change and sometimes we have to focus on the here and now rather than basing everything on history.
But if we were to take that approach, let's look at the track record of political boycotts of sporting events...
-1908, Irish athletes boycott because they were held in England: Ignored
-1950’s and 60’s, African countries boycott because of South Africa being in the Olympics: takes 12 years(time we don’t have for Beijing)
-1980, 65 countries including the US(Jimmy Carter) boycott the Olympics because USSR invaded Afghanistan: USSR stays in Afghanistan and get angry, enough to get revenge (1984 Olympics)
1984, USSR boycotts as revenge: Since there is no cause to solve in this boycott, obviously none comes
And there you have, all of the failed boycotts
Now is the perfect time to do it
If we do not profit from the huge audience given by the hype on the Olympics, when will be able to push the Chinese government to address the question of human rights ?
Politics should not overshadow the sport
The debate is all rubbish, and the human-rights group are just a bunch of biased street hooligans. They have multiple standards, they choose what they want to oppose without consider the facts and what others think and feel.
They don’t even want to find out the true 2000 years of China’s history before doing engaging with the nonsensical idea of so called Free-Tibet. There is no such issue. Tibetans has been involved in the change of dynasties in China for the last few thousand years.
The issues that Chinese opponents are fighting against are so crucial and important that sport should take a back-seat in order that the issues can be tackled.
Any form of protest would go against the Olympic spirit
It may be argued that any athlete expressing personal views regarding political issues would be in breach of the International Olympic Committee charter. Section 51 states that the Games “provides for no kind of demonstration, or political, religious or racial propaganda in the Olympic sites, venues or other areas”. The Games of 1968 are testament to this. The decision of American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos to carry out their "Black Power Salute" in Mexico City saw them suspended form their national team and banned from the Olympic village.
Although the actions of those in Mexico City got the athletes involved into trouble, the consequences of those actions have been monumental. That moment has done an enormous amount to ensuring the world is a better place today.
The Chinese government should concentrate their resources on making the Games a success
China should focus on ensuring that they are held under perfect conditions and the rest of the world should let them do that. The Games will provide China with a major security problem. They have to concentrate on counter terrorism and ensuring the well-being of visitors to the country during the period. Any direct action taken by protesters may make these problems more difficult for the relevant authorities compromising visitor safety.
Nothing should distract from the major issues facing the world today.
The Chinese government should concentrate their resources on lifting its population out of poverty, educating its poor, improving its human rights record, releasing the journalists it has imprisoned for trying to tell the truth, and only then, once it has achieved these fundamentally more important goals, should it concentrate on throwing a big party celebrating people running around in tight costumes.
There is also the major issue that as China drives to make its Games bigger and better they are displacing people from their homes and silencing dissenters. It is easy for China to enforce crackdowns in the name of security of the Olympics.
There is no Tibet issue at all
Dalai is just a puppet.
Tibet is just an excuse.
The real aim is just to humiliate China as usual.
The situation with Tibet is very similar to the situation in Iraq. If the rest of the world would like Tibet to be freed, then Iraq should be purged of its American invaders as well. By sending our troops to Iraq, America has clearly shown where it stands on this issue. If not, then hypocrite is the only word for it - condemning the Chinese in Tibet while our American troops stand ground in Iraq.
The difference is of course that the US is now leaving Iraq, if China intending to leave Tibet any time soon?
The debate is not the concern of other nations
Tibet was a part of China before the United States even existed. It is not our business to get involved in. Tibet IS PART OF CHINA at this point, whether you like it or not.
Centuries of repression does not justify more. The US was part of Britain before it existed - does that justify a British claim over the thirteen colonies? There are very few countries that have been totally independent throughout human history - Japan, possibly Italy. History is not a good justification for anything because supporting evidence can be found for all sorts of claims that should be dismissed. It should also be noted that Tibet has had periods of effective independence much more recently. As a country that is so determined to uphold sovereignty it is amazing how cavalier China is in its demands that it should have sovereignty over other peoples.
A boycott of the Beijing Olympics will be counter productive
First of all, I am a Hong Kong born Chinese living in Beijing.
The reason that so many Chinese people from all over the world are defending the Olympics so hard is because we Chinese, being a very proud people, will do a lot to save face. The hosting of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing is seen by us Chinese people as symbolic of China becoming a strong and modern nation.
Misunderstanding is also a very important factor. If there is a boycott of the Beijing Olympics many Chinese will see it as an act of hostility against the Chinese people and culture, not just the government. Whether they are against Chinese government, or Chinese people (if they care about the differences at all).
If there is a boycott then the ultra-nationalists in China are going to use this opportunity to spew hate against the west and Pro- democratic Chinese. The people will also start to loss faith in the Western media and will be more unwilling to listen to what the west has to say.
Ultimately today’s generation of Chinese youth will become tomorrow’s leaders; if you sincerely wants to change the way China is going then rather than shouting slogans, we are the key. Unfortunately, a boycott of the Olympics will just deepen the misunderstanding.
Do we only boycott China?
Why should we single out China when we want to highlight human rights abuses?
Perhaps China should refuse to allow the UK and US to participate anyway until they stop their illegal war in Iraq and all the consequent human rights abuses it entails.
Should all sporting events in the US be boycotted until the Guantanamo Bay human rights abuses are stopped? Should we refuse to take part in any event which also includes athletes from Saudi Arabia?
Clearly sport must be kept separate from politics or very little international sport would actually happen.
The spirit of the Olympics is about unity, not antagonism
The Olympics should be a coming together of the nations of the world to celebrate sporting excellence. It should not be used to continue the political wranglings of the world, but to emphasise what they have in common and promote peaceful relations.
Promoting peaceful relations is only possible when all nations respect human rights. How can we be unified with countries that do not share our basic fundamental values?
Stomping on the dream of 1.3 billion will achieve nothing in changing China.
It's not even just using the Olympics to highlight human rights issues in China anymore, it's using the Olympics for all-out China-bashing season these days. Anything goes it seems, anything China does is wrong, wrong, wrong and only these "Western" ideals can save China is what it's starting to sound like. Those that are using the Olympics to highlight various political points made a crucial mistake because they thought these Olympics were only the dream of the CCP/CPC, but instead they didn't realize it was the century-long dream of the entire country, all 1.3 billion people are on-board. So by stomping on the Olympics, or using it as a China-bashing tool it's provoked the anger of all the Chinese people, and without the support of the Chinese people, those hoping to change anything within China are bound to find themselves unable to succeed.
This would only serve to alienate the Chinese people
The western media underestimate the patriotism of Chinese people, and they also underestimate the amount of information Chinese people have access to. Though information from the BBC has had a hard time getting to Chinese people, until recently, the population are by no means starved of information. A quick surf on Chinese internet reveals sites such as Guardian.co.uk, and FT.com untouched by the firewall. The fact remains that, despite being able to gain access to objective media reports, the people are loyal disciples to their nation. British patriotic spirit only manifests itself during large sporting occasions, and never actually translates to the political scene, with just over 60% turnout during the 2005 British general election. Unless one is witness to Chinese society, and talk with their youth, British onlookers will never be able to comprehend the loyalty they have for their country. Chinese people are not told by the media that the West are 'attacking' them or trying to harm their development, they draw that conclusion themselves. Using the Olympics as a basis for a human rights platform would only serve to confirm the suspicions of the Chinese youth (and adult) population that China is being singled out unfairly, especially at the same time as events occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Olympic Games were not designed as a human rights platform, nor were they ever meant to be
The Olympic Games was not created in order to serve as a model for remonstration. 'Citius, Altius, Fortius' relates to the sporting prowess of the athletes that partake in the games. To use the Olympics as a platform to protest against the host, or any other country, would not only overshadow the athletes, who make up the vital composition of the games and who see the games as the peak of their career, but it would also serve to create a new latin motto of 'oro, clamo, abnego' (argue, shout, deny).
What do you think?