Articles

COMMENTARY: The Olympics are Political by Nature

In China, Commentary, Foreign Affairs, Sports on April 9, 2008 by Editor Z

There is scant doubt that the actions and sentiments expressed in San Fransisco against China very well could have an effect on U.S- Chinese relations. China has played a part in containing a nuclear North Korea. China also holds an ample amount of U.S debt and many products that line the shelves of colossal chain stores and discount retailers all around America as well as the world could be slowed. If America was to forgo the Olympic Games altogether it could have severe repercussions.

Having said that, as it is often stated merely not attending the opening formal ceremonies of the Chinese based Olympics would make a strong statement, while also honoring American athletes and not completely disparaging China.

Many in both political parties have implored that President Bush do just that. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he will do just that. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that she will not attend the Olympics and recently French President Nicholas Sarkowzy has openly mulled not attending the Olympics in Beijing.

However, the White House has stated that President Bush won’t forgo opening ceremonies because he doesn’t want to politicize the Olympics. Instead he has suggested that the Chinese should open a dialogue with the Dali Lama. Given the historical tensions between the two, at least in the near term, that has virtually no chance of becoming a reality.

However the Olympics have also been an arena where not only athletes showcase their feats and abilities, but where nations that constitute the world and their leaders gather. Any event with that many world leaders brought to it by its very essence is indeed a political affair.Each team heralds the banner and is identified by the country in which they reside.

In 1936, then German leader Adolf Hitler hosted the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. The fuhrer used the games as a propaganda tool to enhance the image of a Germany rising from the embers of World War I.

During 1956, the Games became entangled in cold war global politics. In response to the brutal repression of the Hungarian Uprising by the Soviet Union; Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands boycotted the games. Also, several middle Eastern Countries boycotted the games due to the Suez War that was sparked that same year. The United States took similar actions during the 1980 Moscow Olympics, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day of 1979. The Soviets responded in kind with a boycott when the United States hosted the games in Los Angeles four years later.

But boycotts have not been the only political actions taken at the Olympics. In 1968 two black athletes drew ample condemnation when after finishing a track run and being awarded Olympic medals they gave a black power salute. Politics has also at times even led to violence, as the world watched, such in 1972, when several members of a terrorist group took a number of Israeli athletes hostage and eventually killed them as the eyes of the world watched. And in 2002, when the Olympic Games were hosted by Salt Lake City, like a silent eerie phantom, the horrors and somber climate induced by the 9/11 attacks was still present.

So although it would be ideal if we and countries as well as peoples around the globe could eject politics and national concerns and global issues from the Olympics it would be great. But history and logic dictates that when the leaders of nations around the globe, in a world where conflicts between nations and people are prevalent and plentiful in number, merely making the event a global gathering about sports is unrealistic.


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One Response to “COMMENTARY: The Olympics are Political by Nature”

  1. This is all very interesting! I feel very bad for the tibetans and monks.

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