Protesting the Olympics

Although I don’t often talk about politics on my blog, I thought that I would share some of what I am feeling about the recent protests against China that have been plaguing the Olympic Torch relay.

During the ancient Olympics, it is believed that all wars and conflicts were halted during the games so that athletes and spectators could be assured of their safety. In modern times, conflicts actually take place during the games. Case in point, the Munich massacre that happened during the 1972 Summer Olympics.

This sorry tradition continues today, with protesters the world over doing their best to disrupt or even cancel the 2008 Olympics in China.

Yes, I am completely aware of China’s human rights abuses. Yes, I am aware that they are occupying Tibet. Yes, I am aware that Chinese workers are exploited (often by American companies, but I digress). However, I feel strongly that the Olympics are a time when we should be focusing on the atheletes taking part. They have worked thier whole lives for a chance to compete in front of the world, and their dreams are soured by what is happening.

I’m not so sure that dowsing the Olympic Torch in France is the way to get China to change its internal policies. I don’t think that hits close enough to home for the government. Economic sanctions, like a company-level (rather than personal-level) refusal to buy products manufactured in China is a good start. But, of course, since so many goods sold worldwide come from China (your iPod, for one, comes from China), that isn’t likely to ever happen.

But, as a Canadian, I’m not sure I can really say too much about this. There is an exceptionally good chance that Canada, and much of North America, is going to witness some very severe protests by First Nations people as the 2010 Olympics approach. Sadly, I think that hijacking the Olympics to publicize conflicts with governments is going to be the new reality. Athletes will soon be taking a backseat to protesters.

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