The Olympics And Political Protests
The Olympics is no place for political protests; sports and politics are totally different entities.
There is no doubt that this year’s Olympics have been one of the most politically heated topics in sporting history. The issue was sparked off by events in Tibet. Additionally there were claims that the Chinese government has been abusing its people’s human rights. These arguments have caused some countries to boycott the Olympics or to demonstrate in their respective countries about the Olympics. Such decisions necessitate a thorough analysis of the situation. The essay will examine whether the Olympics is the right scene for these political issues.
Arguments for using the Olympics as a platform for political protests
‘There is active discussion in China about how to proceed with Tibet, and a constant debate about political reforms.'(Buxi, 2008)
Some people believe that by using the Olympics as a platform for political issues, they exert pressure upon oppressive governments and such governments may be forced to change their regime. It is a fact that 2008 Olympics to be held in China has sparked lots of debate. The above writer believes that these protests are actually prompting the Chinese government to review their policies towards Tibet. The latter country is fighting for independence and in order to gain international support, there is a need to choose the right movement when all eyes are on the host country. Such people argue that if they were to choose another time like after the Olympics, very few countries will be interested in the problems of China. Also using sporting events as a platform for political issues allows other countries to demonstrate their disdain about the actions of those oppressive regimes.
There are also claims that host countries need to foster the image of the Olympics. This means that they need to portray the peace and unity that is synonymous with the event. If a host country has not been doing this, then it can be seen as a form of hypocrisy. The Chinese government has been criticized for its human rights abuses. There have reports about how the Chinese government prevents its citizens from discussing issues about their government. Furthermore, the Chinese government normally discourages most foreigners form discussing their problems claiming that it has nothing to do with them; they believe that they are the only ones with a right to solve their problems. In light of these arguments, it would be quite unfair for such a government to hold the Olympics and claim that they foster the spirit of unity that is synonymous with the torch. (Rice, 2008)
Some people believe that protests should be conducted in any platforms a long as there is room to be heard. Furthermore, they believe that sometimes members of the host country may not have the political freedom to do so consequently, the international community needs top help them in this. For instance, there are numerous goods in the US government that come form the Chinese government. But workers in that location have minimal access to basic resources. Most of them are subjected to harsh working conditions and low pay. They cannot complain about this situation because it may bring problems. Consequently, the international community needs to help the Chinese workers by voicing their complaints. These complaints will only be noticed when the country stands to loose something. For instance, if the international countries boycotts the Olympics, then chances are the Chinese government will loose a lot. It may therefore be promoted to change their worker’s conditions due to these changes.
Arguments against using the Olympics as a platform for political protests
‘Sport is sport and politics is politics. There has never been anyone who has belied the fact that sport is the best way of uniting peoples.’ (Brincat, 2008)
The above writer believes that the Olympic event is a sporting affair and not a political one. Consequently, all political issues need to be solved through discussions between the affected parties. The problem is between Tibet and China, therefore representatives from both groups need to negotiate. There is no need to waste efforts by protesting against injustices through sports. This writer also believes that there mediation and long term solutions will only come up when the parties are discussing the issue. So far, there have been no tangible results from the protests that we have seen so far. Some reporters have asserted that China will be pressured to improve its policies but no results are forthcoming yet.
Adherents to this view also believe that including political issues in this international sporting event only serves to undermine the main idea behind it; that is unifying all the people of the world. By introducing politics into the equation protestors may cause some countries to boycott the Olympic. This undermines the very purpose behind the sport.
Introducing politics into Politics is not something new; this has occurred in the past. During the year 1984, there were protests in Los Angeles. Also, in the year 1980, there were political issues in Moscow; there were no positive results that came from them. Instead, international sports were undermined. This is exactly what will happen when political issues continue ruling the platform. It should be noted that when countries choose to boycott sporting events, they deny very talented participants from joining the spots. This means that those who accept to do so may not be the best competitors. Consequently, armature athletes may win while the real talent may be forced to stay home. This devalues the entire event. (Barney, 2003)
One must not forget the fact that the Chinese government has gone through a lot of effort to prepare themselves for this event. Fir instance, it has first class facilities for the event like a stadium called Bird’s nest and a swimming pool called Water Cube. By brining in politics in sports, countries that have invested heavily in the sport may be forced to count their losses due to poor attendance though boycotts.
Adherents to the above view also assert that most of the issues that people protest about in politics have nothing to do with politics. For instance protesters against the Beijing Olympics argue that there may be environmental problems in China. The alter issues will not affect the events in the Olympics directly and this means that the latter should not be used as a scene for addressing them.
Lastly, there are numerous athletes that have dedicated so much time and effort top prepare for the vent. These athletes need to be given an opportunity to compete. By introducing politics in the equation, such athletes will not be given a fair chance.
Some people assert that there is no better platform to air out their political issues that the Olympics because the event attracts international attention. It will therefore allow other countries to join in the political issues causing tension. They also claim that using the Olympics as a platform for politics pressures oppressive regimes to change their policies. An example of these changes can be seen in China.
However, other people claim that it undermines the efforts of the sportsmen who put in a lot of time and dedication to prepare for the event. Besides that political issues have nothing to do with the Olympics. As if this is not enough, it causes a waste in resources since host countries invest a lot of resources to prepare for the event. Also, no tangible results are usually forthcoming through protests. Political issues are best solved on a round table. Lastly, protests in Olympics undermine the unity and peace; these are the main principles behind the event. In light of the latter views, it can be seen that Political issues should not be addressed during the Olympics. Citizens need to choose more appropriate platforms because they are the ones who stand to loose in the end.
Buxi, T. (2008): Two Chinese Protests two different reactions; retrieved from http://blog.speak4china.com/?p=28 accessed on 30 May 2008
Brincat, H. (2008): Let the Chinese Olympics go on; Standard Publications Ltd
Rice, A. (2008): China Olympics; retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourview/ accessed on 30 May 2008
Barney, R. (2003); The Olympic legacy of wealth: a double-edged sword, NY; Routledge Publishers