Amateur hour

August 8, 2008

I don’t often agree with The Nation, but it’s hard to argue with this:

When the International Olympic Committee formally awarded Beijing the privilege of hosting the 2008 Olympic Games seven years ago, they accepted assurances from the historically repressive government of China that the country would dramatically expand its commitment to protecting human rights within its borders.

[. . .]

China has failed.

The IOC has failed.

The Olympics will open without progress when it comes to upholding even the most basic standards for individual liberty in China.

But we should not lie to ourselves about the healing power of the Olympic spirit.

That spirit has been crushed – along with the hopes of human rights activists in China and around the world — by the crude cynicism of the Chinese government, and by the determination of the the International Olympic Committee and too many world leaders to turn a blind eye to the broken promises that disminish and demean the Summer Olympics of 2008.

China wants to use the Olympics to make everybody else take it seriously as a responsible world citizen. Most of that “responsbile” world hopes the games will force China to change its ways. It is wildly optimistc to count on either.

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2 Responses to “Amateur hour”

  1. Doug Says:

    At least tyrannical, oppressive governments are generally good for a spectacle. I think the 1936 Berlin Olympics were one of the more famous. The propaganda of Leni Riefenstahl and the athletic prowess of Jesse Owens were a potent combination.

  2. Leo Morris Says:

    “Although I wasn’t invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either.” — attributed to Jesse Owens


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