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Boycott Beijing 2008

Boycott Beijing 2008

Editorial

By: Reporters Sans Frontières

Date: 2001

Source: Reporters sans frontieèrs. "Why We Are Boycotting Beijing 2008?" 2001. <http://www.rsf.org/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=174> (accessed May 17, 2006).

About the Author: Reporters sans frontières is an independent international organization that works to eliminate censorship laws that restrict freedom of press. The organization has branches in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland, and offices in Abidjan (Co^te d'Ivoire), Bangkok, New York, Tokyo, and Washington, and maintains a trilingual (French, English, and Spanish) website also known as Reporters without Borders and Reporteros sin fronteras.

INTRODUCTION

The Olympic Charter states that "the goal of the Olympic movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind." Ideally, pure athletic talent, and not race, gender, religious belief, or politics, should determine an athletes' participation. Unfortunately, Olympic Games have been used as a propaganda tool and a political instrument, threatening the Olympic ideal.

The Nazis appropriated the Games in Berlin, Germany, in 1936, despite public protests about the regime and its racist policies. During the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia, the Suez crisis and Soviet oppression in Hungary prompted some countries to withdraw from the competition. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to expel the Republic of South Africa in 1964 for its apartheid policies [laws that permitted discrimination against people of color]. The ban ended in 1992, after South Africa renounced its repressive and racist policies. At the 1968 Mexico City Games, African American athletes protested racial discrimination in the United States. In 1972, Rhodesia, another white-ruled African nation known for its apartheid policies, was banned from the Games just four days before their start.

The most tragic intrusion of politics into the Olympic Games occurred during the Munich Games in 1972, when eight Palestinian terrorists murdered two Israeli athletes and kidnapped nine others in an attempt to gain the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. When an ill-prepared German rescue attempt failed, the Palestinians murdered the remaining hostages.

Several countries have declined participation in the Games as a means of political protest. More than twenty African and Arab nations boycotted the 1976 Montreal Games. They demanded that New Zealand, a country with ties to South Africa, be expelled. The IOC refused. Four years later, as many as sixty countries, led by the United States, boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games to protest that country's invasion of Afghanistan. Subsequently, the USSR led a thirteen-nation boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, citing "security concerns."

The 2008 Olympic Games scheduled to be held in Beijing, have also been threatened with a boycott. Protestors cite China's human rights violations, invasion and occupation of Tibet, environmental concerns, and other issues. Human rights organizations and other opponents of the Chinese government call the decision to allow China to host the 2008 Games "historical misjudgment" and "reward for a corrupt regime." The European Parliament has urged the IOC to revoke China's host status and to reconsider their application "when the authorities of the PRC have made a fundamental change in their policy on human rights, and the promotion of democracy and the rule of law."

The following article, published on the Reporters sans frontières website, accuses the Chinese Government of several human rights violations.

PRIMARY SOURCE

Why We Are Boycotting Beijing 2008?
A New Wave of Repression Justified by the Olympics

Moscow 1980: The Positive Effect of the Boycott

No Olympics without Democracy !

A New Wave of Repression Justified by the Olympics

While a wide majority of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members were voting, on July 13, 2001, to attribute the 2008 Summer Olympics to Beijing, Chinese police received an order to step up their executions of delinquents and intensify repression against "subversive Internet users." IOC members, encouraged by their president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, who personally supported China's bid, paid no attention to the repeated calls against the Beijing bid.

Internet Users, Tibetans and Falungong Members Repressed

Chinese authorities, satisfied by this decision, reinforced repression against Internet users, Tibetans, members of the Falungong spiritual movement, foreign scholars, the Muslim Uigur minority, democrats, foreign journalists and delinquents, all "in the name of the Chinese Olympics." Vice-Prime minister Li Lanqing stated, four days after the IOC's vote, that "China's Olympic victory" should incite the country to preserve its "healthy life," especially by fighting against the Falungong movement which "foments insecurity." It should be reminded that at least 100 Falungong followers have died in detention since the movement was banned, and at least 10,000 others are in Chinese jails. On July 19, Hu Jintao stated that after Beijing's "triumph," it was "essential to fight strongly against separatist activities orchestrated by the Dalai Lama and anti-Chinese forces around the world."

At Least 35 Cyber Dissidents Arrested

In July also, former President Jiang Zemin defended the idea of a "healthy" Chinese Internet. In concrete terms, 35 cyber-dissidents are in jail, and more than 8,000 Internet cafés have been closed; dozens of web sites and forums were censored in July. In western China, authorities in Xinjiang province, where the country's Muslim minority lives, sentenced four Uigurs accused of "separatism" to death, Meanwhile, two German journalists, who were investigating a case of contaminated blood in Henan province, were arrested and accused of "working illegally." Finally, police and judicial authorities received orders to continue the "Strike Hard" campaign against delinquency. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Chinese have already been executed this year, either shot in the neck or by lethal injection, and this is often done in public, in stadiums.

The idea that granting China the Olympics would incite the Chinese authorities to improve human rights has been swept away by recent events. We can look forward to seven years of repression, especially against Tibetans and Uigurs, and all those considered to be "subversive elements." The IOC has, in fact, invested the Chinese regime with a task it will carry out zealously: host safe Olympics. This means arrests of dissidents, social "cleansing," and censorship against "critical" elements, especially journalists.

Balance of Power

Unfortunately, the reactions from democratic governments—"we hope the Olympics will lead to improvements in human rights"—have no effect on the Chinese regime. History has shown that totalitarian regimes are more sensitive to a balance of power than to "constructive dialogue." A boycott therefore seems the only strategy to force Chinese authorities to respect human rights before 2008.

The Olympic movement was discredited in 1936, when it allowed the Nazis to make the Games a spectacle to glorify the Third Reich. In 1980, in Moscow, the IOC suffered a terrible defeat when more than 50 countries boycotted the Olympics. The Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Egypt and so many others refused to countenance the Soviet regime. In 2008, the international sporting movement must refuse to tolerate one of the world's bloodiest dictatorships.

SIGNIFICANCE

The modern Olympics were established with the highest ideals, including fostering international cooperation. Yet the Olympics are exploited by powerful interest groups, especially governments and corporations. Issues such as commercialization, bidding wars, blood doping [the illegal practice of increasing an athlete's red blood cell supply to improve performance], racism, and gender inequality have clouded the Olympics for decades.

The privilege of hosting the Games is a source of national and civic pride, with the opportunity to showcase a host country and city. Unfortunately, repressive regimes often find international sport a convenient avenue for good publicity. In fact, the 1936 Berlin Olympics were an obvious ploy to demonstrate the prowess of Nazi Germany. According to California Republican Congressman Tom Lantos, "Hitler benefited enormously from the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. And we know what happened in the years following. The Soviet Union had the Olympics in 1980, and there came nine years of Soviet suppression."

Whether or not the Olympics should be used as a means of political protest, however, is still debated. Opponents argue that boycotting works against a country's political interests. Others believe that the Olympics give totalitarian regimes an opportunity to improve. Soon after China's bid to host the 2008 Olympics was accepted, for example, Human Rights Watch stated that "the human rights record of a country should be taken into serious consideration by the International Olympic Committee in selecting the site for the 2008 Olympics, but we are not opposed a priori to China getting the Games. Experience with the 1995 UN Women's Conference in Beijing has shown that having thousands of people from around the world in China can focus attention on the country, including on the degree of state control and fear of political protest."

The IOC maintains that international sporting competitions foster goodwill between countries. In January 2006 the United Nations and IOC chiefs pledged to use them as a tool to promote peace in war-torn countries. IOC chief Jacques Rogge, in a joint statement with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said that through sport "what we are doing is trying to bring the athletes together not necessarily only in matches, also in training camps, so they can live together longer than just a matter than one or two hours." He also added that "we believe that this is a very important symbol that people can live together, that people respect each other and that sport is a uniting factor."

FURTHER RESOURCES

Books

Hulme, Derick. The Political Olympics: Moscow, Afghanistan, and the 1980 U.S. Boycott. New York: Praeger Publishers, December 30, 1990.

Periodicals

Hargreaves, John. "Olympism and Nationalism: Some Preliminary Consideration." International Review for the Sociology of Sport. 27, no. 2 (1992): 119–137.

Web sites

Chinaorbit.com. "Positions within the IOC Concerning the Question of Human Rights." May 17, 2006. <http://www.chinaorbit.com/Olympic_Games_2008_and_ Human_R.1229.0.html> (accessed May 17, 2006).

CNN. "Olympic Boycotts." <http://edition.cnn.com/ SPECIALS/cold.war/episodes/20/spotlight> (accessed May 17, 2006).

Daily Times. "UN and Olympic Chiefs Pledge to Use Sports against War." January 25, 2006. < http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/ default.asp?page=2006%5C01%5C25%5Cstory_25-1-2006_pg2_9 > (accessed May 17, 2006).

International Olympic Committee. "Montreal 1976." <http://www.olympic.org/uk/games/past/index_uk/> (accessed May 17, 2006).

International Olympic Committee. "Olympic Charter." August 2004. <http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_122.pdf> (accessed May 17, 2006).

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