Boycotting The Olympics

By Jesse Shayne>

The issue of boycotting the Beijing Olympics has been raised to a whole new level. Recently, when asked if he would attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics, President George W. Bush said he is not sure yet.

Bush is under heavy pressure from fellow government officials, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to skip the event. Many countries all over the world are boycotting, protesting or skipping the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The reason is the current genocide going on in Darfur. Currently in Sudan, Africa, there is a genocide being brought out by the government and a terrorist militia group called the Janjaweed. The group is fighting against the rebels that oppose the government, as well as killing and torturing thousands of innocent people. The torture and death, as well as decades of drought, starvation, and overpopulation is killing thousands of people in the country.

What does this have to do with the Olympics, you might ask? It is about the weapons the Janjaweed use. China and other Asian countries produce a large amount of the world’s guns and other weapons. Within the last few years China and Taiwan have been supplying the Sudanese government with the weapons that are being used to enforce the genocide. People all over the world are trying to help combat the grief and sorrow, and skipping the Olympics, or at least the opening ceremonies, is a good way for your country to show its support for the people of Darfur and your condemnation of China. If the idea of skipping the ceremony has reached George Bush, it must be pretty big news!

Olympic Politics

By Peter Persson>

The Olympic Torch reached San Francisco last Tuesday, one week into its global run through 23 cities. It is now being kept in an unknown location before the run starts again. The torch has brought many protesters because the host nation of the Olympics is China. Protesters in San Francisco climbed the Golden Gate Bridge and put up huge Free Tibet posters. There were more protests during the earlier stops of the torch in London and Paris. They tried to get to the torch and many were arrested. I think the Olympic Games are one of the only things that show that the world can come together in peace for a little while. Even if China has a bad human rights record, I believe that the Olympics and all its traditions should still go on. The protesters need to stop because they are hurting innocent people for no reason. They forced one of the runners to back out because he feared that he might get hurt. Also now, Hillary Clinton is getting in on the issue and saying that we should boycott the opening ceremonies. China may have done some bad things, but I think not going is disrespectful and doesn’t help anyone. I just hope the Olympics can go smoothly without anyone getting hurt.

Black Power at the Olympics

By Chris Davies, Brooks Billingham, Richard McAuliffe > and John Cooprrider>

In the civil rights movement era, two African American medalists in the 1968 Olympics each raised one hand to protest the discrimination in America as the American flag was raised and the Star Spangled Banner played. These men were Tommie Smith and John Carlos. Tommie was the gold medalist in the 200 meters and John was the bronze medalist. Tommie raised his right hand covered with a black glove and John raised his left hand wearing a black glove. Together they both raised their hands to form an arc of unity and power. Raising their hands was not their only protest. Tommie Smith also wore a black scarf, which represented Black pride, and both wore black socks with no shoes to show the poverty and racism in the United States. Many people thought that their action was disrespectful and that they had no right to do it. People said that their actions disgraced America and they both received many threats. They even received death threats to themselves and their families. Even though some people saw it as a disgrace, supporters of the civil rights movement were moved by the protest and appreciated their bravery.

The second place medalist for the 200 meters was an Australian, Peter Norman. He went along with the protest and supported it by wearing an OPHR badge. Peter was never allowed to represent his country in the Olympics again and faced many threats and consequences for supporting the Civil Rights Movement. This act of silent protest by the two African American athletes was a pivotal moment for the civil rights movement in America. If this had not happened, the civil rights movement would have still worked, but this act protested to the world because everyone watched or listened to the Olympics. They wanted to use that opportunity to protest to the world about the treatment of African Americans and to get people to support their struggle.

Sport and Injustice: Do They Mix?

By Michael Kendall>

Recently in class we have been discussing the issue of the Olympics being held in Beijing, China. My opinion appears to be very different than many others in the class, not specifically on the question of should the United States boycott the Olympics this summer, but of my overall thoughts and understanding of China. I feel that while it would be an amazing display of control if the United States were to boycott the Olympics — it would be fantastic — there would be much backlash. I believe this is why boycotting is not the answer. If we were to announce that we weren’t going to send any athletes to the Olympics it would likely start a chain reaction throughout the world of countries deciding not to compete. While this would be quite a stand by the world, it would likely make the Chinese government and people very upset, which, to say the least, would not be good.

The United States could consider boycotting the Olympics for many reasons. First is the connection between China and the genocide in Darfur; second is the cruelty going on in Tibet, and third is the current state of China and its population of more than a billion people. The situation in Darfur is the main issue we’ve talked about in class.

But I also believe that the most significant point to be made by China hosting the Olympics is it’s their chance to show the world what China is really like. As a kid my view of China was always that it was a huge country in Asia that has more than a billion people. Now my perspective as a sophomore in high school has evolved. China is a huge country that is centralized and independent when it comes to world policies on such things as pollution. It is a communist state which probably produces half the imported goods into the United States, all made by either very underpaid labor, forced labor or by children. It is a country that is growing rapidly on the eastern coast while remaining very poor inland with an abundance of poverty. China is doing very little to change its ways and this is the main reason I believe the United States should not boycott this summer’s Olympics, but use the games to make the ways of China common knowledge.

More Olympic Debate

By Solvig Sayre>

Debates are being held in many countries on whether or not to boycott the Olympics. So here are some points on both sides of the issue that were made in the debate in Dr. Weintraub’s class:

• Athletes train for years and might only qualify for one Olympic campaign, so it is unfair to them to boycott the Olympics and put all their hard work to waste.

• The careers of a few Olympic athletes cannot compare to the thousands of lives being lost every day in Darfur and Tibet. China is the main supplier of arms to the Sudanese government; the weapons are used against the people of Darfur.

• The Olympics isn’t a place to be political; it celebrates unity and equality among athletes, symbolized by the year Jesse Owens broke several Olympic records, a victory leap across the segregation lines.

• This is a moment when the world is captivated as one and we should use this time to call the attention of people everywhere to the unknown hardships of the world while celebrating the victories of human kind.

I can relate to both sides, so can’t we sew together the sides?

In order to make the United States position more diplomatic and clear cut, follow the French lead. Let’s not send our President to the opening ceremony.

The Olympics are very political.

Hitler used them to showcase the Aryan race. At the awards ceremony he had an important “meeting” with Jesse Owens and the world saw that in fact the African race is not inferior.

We saw U.S. athletes do the black power salute in 1968 to make a statement about how they felt about representing a country that did not give them full civil rights.

We saw the tragedy at Munich in 1972 and Apartheid South Africa was boycotted for years.

We should let the athletes decide. They will have a much more engaged audience after winning the gold than if they are making the choice to boycott the event.

While talking to the media the athletes could make a public statement about what China is doing in Darfur, Tibet and the enormous pollution issue in China itself.

They can choose to make a public statement about the faults of the rest of the world or they can decide not do anything but win.

Life is not a straight cut between right and wrong. I believe that we should show up and make the best of it, leaving an everlasting impression behind.

We should leave the decision up to athletes.