“The Games have always brought people together in peace to respect universal moral principles.” — Olympic.org.
The year is 1936. In Germany, Jews are being physically assaulted, expelled from their jobs, and boycotted economically. Jews aren’t able to attend movies at theaters, and are barred from marrying “Aryans.” In short, Hitler’s fascist regime is on its way in.
It seems inconceivable now that countries all over the world agreed on Berlin as the location for the 1936 Summer Olympics.
The year is 2008. Tibetans are being oppressed, robbed of their religious freedoms, and killed during peaceful protests. “Outside” media isn’t allowed in Tibet.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama predicts that, if the current situation continues, the Chinese government will increase the suppression of those in Tibet.
It seems inconceivable that countries all over the world agreed on Beijing as the location for the summer 2008 Olympics.
For years, countries participating in the Olympics have been able to set aside their differences and participate amicably in delightful sporting activities.
However, the Olympics are far from a mere sporting event. The Olympics are supposed to foster peace, cooperation and friendship among the participating countries.
Much like the 1936 games, international participation must not lend the stamp of approval on an area known for human rights violations on a massive scale. History must not repeat itself. We cannot, in good faith, hold the 2008 Olympic Games in China this summer.
In preparation for the event, China has evicted 300,000 residents of Beijing from the city and will displace 1.5 million, according to the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions. In order to rid Beijing of stray cats and dogs, the animals are being transported to “death camps” outside the city.
It’s imperative to point out that the Tibetan oppression is not an isolated incident in China’s recent history. The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, in which estimated hundreds of civilians were killed by the Chinese military, were not so very long ago. China’s one-child rule, however well-intentioned, created social problems the country is still facing. The Chinese government has been corrupt for years and is still abusing its power. Freedom of the press is far from widespread.
Many argue that the Olympics should not be used as a platform to forward political agendas. However, if the United States and other countries acquiesce to participating in the Olympic Games in China, all we will be doing, in effect, is allowing and endorsing the continued oppression of millions to continue.
It’s true that the Olympic Games are far more than just sporting events. The Olympics are supposed to represent peace, respect and universal moral principles.
China is not upholding those principles by any measure. The United States and other countries should carefully consider what participation in these upcoming games implies about our political and moral compasses.
Let’s not make the same mistake twice.