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Archive for February 13th, 2008

nazimos0902_468x196.jpgAfter posting yesterday on Chinese-made choking hazards in the shape of toys in really, really, really bad taste, this story out of Britain provides another.

British Olympic chiefs are to force athletes to sign a contract promising not to speak out about China’s appalling human rights record – or face being banned from travelling to Beijing.

… The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes’ contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.

What the hell is it with China and the huge and hugely disturbing and disgusting pass it’s getting, especially around this whole Olympics hoo-haa?

The upcoming games … and can we remember that this is what it’s about — GAMES? … should be providing an opportunity for the world to focus on the host country, and not through filters but with the glaring light of global attention thrown in every representation of the often ugly face of real-life China that can be taken in by the hundreds of thousands of people traipsing through the place this summer.

The Chinese government signed on for this sort of inspection at the time they begged, borrowed and pleaded to get the games to run, swim, dive, shoot and so on on Chinese soil, and if those doing the running, swimming, diving, etc. happen to notice some of that soil as it collects under their fingernails while in the process of cheerfully competing under the banner of good sportsmanship, or whatever, they damned well should be able to talk about it.

Or whatever else they want to talk about, for that matter.

Since when does an ability to move quickly disqualify one from developing opinions, along with muscles, and speaking out?

Apparently, for British athletes, since the 1930s when the photo above was taken, the year the British soccer … okay, ‘football’ … team did the Fuehrer’s High Five … the Nazi salute … and were so shamefully captured on film doing so.

Personally, I have been a supporter of the movement to boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics and have wished a large proportion of participants would simply opt out and make a big deal of exactly why China does not deserve the implied respect the games convey.

I was very pleased to see just minutes ago that Steven Speilberg has bowed out of his role as artistic advisor … his stated reason is Darfur, just one of the human rights issues China should be forced to account for … and hope others will do the same, and publicly, as the games draw near.

(Interestingly, his withdrawal comes on the heels of the British “gag order”, so this step may backfire. One can hope … )

I do understand how difficult it would be for an athlete to just say no to what must be a lifelong dream, but these games, the competition, the ceremonies, the venues, and the medals that will come from victories, are tainted.

They are tainted with the waste of opportunity to force change, the whorish rolling over of those who should be standing and pointing fingers and demanding China play by rules of better-worldsmanship, the pandering to money interests with advertising dollars, the good-ole-boy, slap on the back, wink-wink-nudge-nudge cronyism that is spinning the world down to a place where rich and poor are so far removed from each other that neither seems human in the eyes of the other.

An article in the CSM called “The Olympics in China: a moment for pride – and world scrutiny”, gives a look at how important it is to the Chinese to come through the games unscathed:

An unprecedented opportunity to shine in the international spotlight for an intense three weeks. The Chinese government is treating the Games as a symbolic end to 150 years of humiliation by outside powers and a confirmation of its status as a global power to be reckoned with.

But the problem is China should be scathed and scathed badly in ways that illustrate just why 150 years of humiliation was deserved and why its status as a global power needs to be carefully monitored. Carte blanche has not been earned.

And as for the Brits … well, gagging their own athletes is about as spineless and unhelpful a move as can be imagined under these circumstance, but since it’s not the first time it’s happened, it didn’t take much imagination to come up with it.

If only Monty Python were still around to take the piss out of this mess, or if Sid Vicious and the rest of the Sex Pistols could do a rousing rendition of something appropriately irreverent.

It would be good to give the Chinese something to choke on for a change.

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