The Olympics – To Boycott or Not to Boycott

March 27, 2008 at 7:50 am | Posted in Current Events, Miscellaneous, News | 1 Comment
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A very dear friend is among those spreading the word to Boycott the Olympics in Beijing because of the situation in Tibet. In my humble opinion I doubt that a boycott of the Olympics, even one of massive proportions, would affect any change in the plight of Tibet.

The Olympic games are a huge deal for many people regardless of their world view. This is especially true for the athletes who spend a lifetime of hard work just to have a chance to compete in these games. Add to this their families, fans, and die hard Olympic lovers and there will probably not be too many people willing to join in the boycott.

I have seen pictures, read news stories, and listened to personal accounts of people who have recently spent time in China. Based on this I am of the opinion that the games should not be boycotted. Why not? Two reasons. First I don’t think the government of any country will take an official stand at the risk of alienating China. But mostly I think the games should go on because this will give the world a chance to see China, particularly Beijing, for what it really is. When I refer to China, I of course refer to the Chinese government. I would no more judge people living in China based on their government than I want the rest of the world to judge me based on the Bush Administration.

A woman I spoke with told me that the air in Beijing is so polluted you could cut it with a knife and that people are coughing and actually spitting mucous on the streets, though signs are posted warning against spitting. Another acquaintance said many people wear masks, and that he could barely breathe and had trouble seeing because of his constantly burning, watering eyes. Doesn’t this sound like a delightful experience for those folks lucky enough to travel to Beijing to watch the games? And how, I wonder, will the athletes be able to compete if they have trouble breathing? Anyone who has participated in any sport, even just for fun, knows you need to take in more air when playing or doing anything strenuous. Olympic level athletes, who are the fittest among us, give their all (physically) while competing and get winded even when the air is relatively clean. How many will have to drop out, or literally drop and be carried off because of the conditions in which they will be competing?

While travelers to Beijing are not watching the games, if they are able to see through and actually breathe the filthy air, perhaps they will learn other things about China that will leave them with a far more negative opinion than if they had simply joined a boycott. In other words, let’s just give China enough rope….


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  1. You are of course right with your reasoning. A boycott will accomplish nothing. Nothing will accomplish anything on or in China as long as the world uses it as it’s cheap sweat-shop.
    Tibet has unsuccessfully fought for 50 years to get the world to notice the genocide that is happening there – neither the Olympics nor a boycott of them will change that.
    And the Chinese Government will probably clean up the air sufficiently before the games begin – they are cleaning up the streets successfully already with the mass killing of cats, for example.
    As long as major corporations (mostly US ones but not exclusively) have a vested interest in China’s cheap labor market (and the conditions of those laborers would fill another post) nothing will change conditions in China.
    The immense overpopulation is also something to look at – no species does well with extreme overpopulation – and a look at the measures the Chinese Government takes to regulate those would be worth yet another post….

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