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After Spielberg, It's Now The Turn Of Van Den Hoogenband


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Here's the article I found today :

Van den Hoogenband jumps into human rights debate

Associated Press

March 5, 2008 at 11:30 AM EST

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist Pieter van den Hoogenband wants IOC president Jacques Rogge to speak out on human rights in China ahead of the Beijing Games.

Rogge should "on behalf of all athletes publicly call for an improvement of the human rights situation in China," the reigning Olympic 100-metre freestyle champion wrote in a column for Wednesday's edition of best-selling Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. "He can count on my full support and sympathy."

Van den Hoogenband said such a public statement by Rogge would allow athletes to concentrate on their preparations for the games.

"This way, athletes can point to the IOC stance whenever they are asked their opinion on this tricky question," Van den Hoogenband wrote. "We athletes are first and foremost concentrating on delivering the best performance of our lives. That makes it impossible to be involved in politics at the same time."

Rogge has repeatedly said the Olympics will be a "force for good" in China. But he has stressed that the IOC is a sports organization, not a political body, and is not in a position to dictate political changes in China or any other countries.

"The 2008 Olympic Games were awarded to Beijing based on its ability to organize successful competitions and upon the belief that opening the door between China and the world would have positive effects," IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau said in an e-mail statement Wednesday.

"When Beijing was awarded the games in 2001, both the bid team and the Chinese authorities outlined their hopes and aspirations that hosting the games would also play a positive part in China's social and economic development including human rights. The IOC believes the Olympic Games will provide the Chinese with a positive legacy for them to achieve and manage."

Van den Hoogenband is part of a growing chorus drawing attention to human rights, free speech and other political issues in China in the countdown to the Aug. 8-24 Olympics. Last month, Hollywood director Steven Spielberg backed out as an artistic adviser to the games, saying China wasn't doing enough to pressure its ally Sudan into ending the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region.

Activist groups are seeking to leverage China's determination to stage a successful Olympics to shame the host country into changing its policies on human rights, press freedoms and diplomacy. The government has angrily denounced what it calls attempts to "politicize" the games.

Van den Hoogenband said the human rights debate "threatens to drive sport into the background half a year before the Olympic flame is lit."

Some Olympic committees and officials in Europe have been accused of trying to muzzle athletes from speaking out about sensitive issues in Beijing.

The British Olympic Association was criticized for plans to require athletes to sign a new clause in their contracts prohibiting them from making politically sensitive remarks or gestures during the Olympics. The BOA later backed off.

"The IOC respects the opinion expressed by athletes and by any other organizations," Moreau said. "The fact that the Olympic Games can foster dialogue on issues that go beyond the sporting arena is a positive development made possible by the awarding of the Games to China."

Beijing will be Van den Hoogenband's fourth and last Olympics. He was one of the stars of the 2000 Sydney Games when he broke the 200-metre freestyle world record in the semifinals and matched the time in the final to beat local favorite Ian Thorpe for the gold.

The "flying Dutchman" also broke the 100-metre world record in the semifinals before winning gold.

Four years later in Athens, Thorpe gained revenge by beating Van Den Hoogenband in the 200 but "Hoogie" repeated his 100-metre triumph for his third career Olympic gold.

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They could pull off a 'Black Power salute' as happened in Mexico.

I recently discovered the Tommie Smith web site

http://www.tommiesmith.com/

Do you remember what happened to Jonnhy Carlos after the Mexico Games ?

He played football few years for the Montreal Alouettes in the CFL.

I remembered watching him play.

Edited by Chateau Petrus
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Oh god, i swear you guys i'm really pissed off of this whole Tibet-Human Rights thing with China, the only comments i see on Youtube on a Beijing 2008 video are of hippies, making unrelated comments. When are they going to give up??? I'm not against freedom of Tibet and those things (in fact i'm against much things that China did and covered with lies), but THIS IS THE OLYMPIC GAMES!! Not the United Nations sessions or some stupid discussions like the present Colombia-Venezuela issue with the FARC. We already know that involving politics on the games almost destroyed them, and do you think the boycott helped to end of the Soviet Union (altought they didn't lasted too long after the games)?. Do they think that rioting and screaming to the heavens about these things are going to change something on China?

China didn't took any risk when they bid, they simply are not going to speak about the human right things because they DON'T GIVE A F*** about it. Neither Rogge is going to speak, because he would prefer the games not to lose it's reputation. It's all matter of convenience. Get it on your heads already.

They got right to speak about it and criticize it, but this is not the time for it.

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China didn't took any risk when they bid, they simply are not going to speak about the human right things because they DON'T GIVE A F*** about it. Neither Rogge is going to speak, because he would prefer the games not to lose it's reputation. It's all matter of convenience. Get it on your heads already.

They got right to speak about it and criticize it, but this is not the time for it.

I disagree with you there. When China bid, they knew it was an issue (especially when they lost their 2000 bid partly on the human rights question). They would have to be naive to think the subject was never going to come up in the next seven years. Similarly, the IOC knew it would be an issue, and have acknowledged it. It's untrue to say Rogge won't mention it, because he already has _ albeit by the formula in saying that by awarding Beijing the hosting rights, they have been hopping for a more open China.

It's equally naive, in fact offensive to nations where free speech is taken for granted, to expect that athletes should be gagged from speaking their mind. Like it or not, a lot of people feel strongly about Beijing hosting the games. There are still many people, including some on this board, who feel they shouldn't have been awarded the right. It's all very well to say politics should be separated from the games, but it's another thing altogether to say athletes and other participants should be prevented from expressing their opinions.

I've never been in favour of boycotts _ they really do achieve nothing and are more counterproductive than anything. Nor do I believe Beijing shouldn't have been chosen as host _ I belong to those who believe that hosting at least leaves them open to more accountability and scrutiny in the eyes of the world. But I strongly believe that not only is it impossible to gag participants and spectators from expressing their opinions, it is downright wrong to try to do so.

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Wow! I never new that China human rights record is a very serious one. If that should be the case they should try to adjust to what the IOC requested for in the area of human rights.

I am on the support for a hitch-free Beijing Olympic games, you know.

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I liken this comment piece from the San Jose Mercury:

The following editorial appeared in the San Jose Mercury News on Monday, March 10:

---

The effort to silence athletes participating in the 2008 Olympic Games is shameful.

You might expect it from China, the host nation, considering its abysmal record on human rights. But Belgium?

The Western European country has slapped a gag order on its Olympic participants as they head to politically charged Beijing for the Summer Games. And Olympic committees from other countries including New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom have toyed with the idea. The International Olympics Committee is trying to put a happy face on the event and ignore political realities.

Fortunately, the U.S. Olympic Committee has made it clear that U.S. athletes can speak their minds. And we hope they do. There's plenty to say about China's failure to live up to the promises it made on human rights in order to win the 2008 Games - not the least of which its failure to try to end the genocide in Darfur, where it has considerable influence.

We would not urge a boycott. The Games should go on. But let them shine a spotlight on their hosts, even if it makes Communist leaders cringe. The idea that the Olympics should be free of politics is absurd.

The official charter of the International Olympic Committee forbids the Games' use as a political platform, but the IOC routinely ignores its own bylaws. It has said more than once that it awarded the Games to Beijing in the hopes that they would be a ``force for good'' in China. What could be more political?

Some of the most memorable Olympic moments have had political overtones: the classic facedown of Hitler by Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936; the black power salute of Tommie Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City in 1968, now commemorated in statue at their alma mater, San Jose State University; the U.S. hockey team's defeat of the Soviet Union - the Miracle on Ice - in Lake Placid in 1980, rife with Cold War symbolism.

And now there's growing outrage over China's flouting of human rights promises.

A swimmer from The Netherlands, three-time gold-medal winner Pieter van den Hoogenband, called on IOC President Jacques Rogge to speak out so athletes wouldn't feel compelled to do so themselves. Filmmaker Stephen Spielberg has pulled out as artistic adviser for the opening ceremonies over China's feeble efforts in Darfur. Human rights groups in the United States and Europe have been pounding away at human rights abuses in recent months.

If China wants to demonstrate that the Games are truly a force for change, as the International Olympic Committee hoped, then it must alter its policies on human rights, including free speech.

Olympic officials can try with all their might to shape the Games. But when they begin in August, the athletes themselves become the story. Speaking out intelligently on human rights is just one more way they can make us proud.

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While indeed someone must speak out against Chinese repression, there is also the fine line of being an out-of-line guest. Remember, in attending these Olympics, you are a guest of the Chinese government and people. If you disagree with their policies, then don't go. Recuse yourself as Speilberg did. But it is also terribly gauche, not to say, undiplomatic, to attend and then trash-talk the gov't policies to their face (i.e., Bjork. I bet she was cold-shouldered outta the countryreal fast).

If it is done properly, it may be effective.

And for a country of some 1.3 billion people, there have to be means to keep this huge mass in line -- otherwise, it would be complete chaos every day. So some of the repression doesn't bother me.

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It's equally naive, in fact offensive to nations where free speech is taken for granted, to expect that athletes should be gagged from speaking their mind.

I'm afraid I don't agree with you here.

I'm completely against national boycotts of the Olympics, however, if individual athletes are intending to criticise their hosts then it's better they make the choice not to attend - if the issue is so important to them they should stay away. To go to China's Games, enjoy the atmosphere, perhaps even win a medal and then go on to make a statement against them is simply rude (how could someone making such a statement be taken seriously anyway - surely if they felt that strongly about the subject they would have stayed away). You wouldn't go to a dinner party at someone's home and declare in front of all the guests that the bathroom was dirty - it's simply rude behaviour.

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While indeed someone must speak out against Chinese repression, there is also the fine line of being an out-of-line guest. Remember, in attending these Olympics, you are a guest of the Chinese government and people. If you disagree with their policies, then don't go.

OMG - I've agreed with the Baron :blink:

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I'm afraid I don't agree with you here.

I'm completely against national boycotts of the Olympics, however, if individual athletes are intending to criticise their hosts then it's better they make the choice not to attend - if the issue is so important to them they should stay away. To go to China's Games, enjoy the atmosphere, perhaps even win a medal and then go on to make a statement against them is simply rude (how could someone making such a statement be taken seriously anyway - surely if they felt that strongly about the subject they would have stayed away). You wouldn't go to a dinner party at someone's home and declare in front of all the guests that the bathroom was dirty - it's simply rude behaviour.

That's a fair enough argument, It's hard to disagree.

But ...

In response, though, I'd say it's a tough call to ask a professional athlete, whose whole life is dedicated to training for the big events and especially the Olympics, to give up their dream and goal because of the choice made of a bunch of older codgers in Lausanne. I'd just say it's a no-brainer that when the IOC decided on China (and I certainly don't disagree with their choice) they'd have known that their choice was going to stir up some strong feelings and controversy. And remember, a lot of their argument in favour of Beijing was that by choosing them, it put China, and its rights record, more in the spotlight and under scrutiny than it otherwise would have been (and China accepted that as well, and made lots of promises to that end). To use this argument, and then go back and say that they don't want the athtetes to scrutinise or comment on China's rights record is hypocritical then.

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Oh god, i swear you guys i'm really pissed off of this whole Tibet-Human Rights thing with China

And I suppose you're pissed off with the constant mentioning of China's involvement in Durfur as well, and people who aren't happy that many thousands have been evicted to make way for these games, and the people who every now and again pop up and mention that health and safety for construction workers is terrible, and journalists who report on the people who are having their farmland drained in the south to provide irrigation to Beijing.

I suppose they piss you off as well. What is it, you'd rather not hear about these things?

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The most surprising to those who are calling for no truce is that USA has removed China from its List of Non co-operating Nations.

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The most surprising to those who are calling for no truce is that USA has removed China from its List of Non co-operating Nations.

But they put China in dictatorship list...haha,China will never be in seldom at leisure.

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