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So Much For Improving Human Rights, Huh?


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When protesters condemned the IOC's decision to award the 2008 Games to Beijing, the IOC and indeed Chinese authorities proclaimed that in fact awarding the Games to China would push it towards it a new era in respect for human rights.

With what we have witnessed in Tibet over the past week, I guess that theory is out the window now. And while there's a growing buzz about possible boycotts to China's 2008 Games, the IOC's Rogge has predictibly resorted to that old reliable "why punish the athletes?" argument.

I say the pressure on China, by way of a threatened boycott, should continue until Beijing backs down and begins respecting the very values that the Olympic Games is supposed to promote. One World, One Dream? I think not.

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I think it will be interesting to see what happens in China during and in the few years after the Games. Bringing myriad people with differing views or the world to your doorstep in the way the Olympics does has got to have a certain transformative effect on local people.

No matter how much a totalitarian regime succeeeds in controlling the media, you can't control the exchange of ideas that thousands of Olympic visitors can bring, and you certainly can't stop people talking to each other.

I think China will be an interesting place to watch in 2009 onward. The are some that say that Moscow 1980 may have in a small way played a part in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union, 10 years later. Who knows what China 2018 might look like?

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I think it will be interesting to see what happens in China during and in the few years after the Games. Bringing myriad people with differing views or the world to your doorstep in the way the Olympics does has got to have a certain transformative effect on local people.

No matter how much a totalitarian regime succeeeds in controlling the media, you can't control the exchange of ideas that thousands of Olympic visitors can bring, and you certainly can't stop people talking to each other.

I think China will be an interesting place to watch in 2009 onward. The are some that say that Moscow 1980 may have in a small way played a part in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union, 10 years later. Who knows what China 2018 might look like?

the Soviet Union collapsed because of economic hardship, the Olympics weren't big enough back then to bring it on.

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And "Why punish the athletes" is a very good argument.

I always like when people impose their views on the athletes. If some athletes make the informed decision of not taking part in the Games then I applaud them but who are we (and more importantly, who are our politicians) to decide for them?

There are plenty of ways to pressure China: as far as the Olympics are concerned maybe the head of states can decide not to attend the Games. Braver would be to hit China where it hurts, the wallet (but yeah, that could hurt our wallets too so let's punish the athletes).

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No matter how much a totalitarian regime succeeeds in controlling the media, you can't control the exchange of ideas that thousands of Olympic visitors can bring, and you certainly can't stop people talking to each other.

I think you're a little bit too idealistic. The people in China already have access to information about democracy, freedom of speech, free elections and all the other liberties in our part of the world. They only have to (for example) watch the videos about the US presidential campaign on YouTube to have an impression of democracy at work. They don't live behind the moon, so they already know what they're missing. The Olympic tourists wouldn't tell them much new information.

So I doubt that the Olympics will change anything about the Chinese political system. Maybe it needs a big economic crisis, like in the Soviet Union, to topple the regime. But we all know that China is far away from plunging into an economic crisis. And currently, it seems to be incredibly hard for those Chinese who want change to create a large movement. I believe that the people are still traumatised from what happened on Tiennanmen Square.

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It is naive to believe the Oympics would ever change China. I don't buy that argument and never have.

Interestingly, those who have always been on the defensive over Beijing 2008 have recently changed their line. Having been proved very wrong about these Games changing China they now say things like "The Olympics might not change China, but it will provide a spotlight making the world much more aware of the country and its people." This is, from my point of view the least we can expect, and sadly, the most we could probably hope for.

The Chinese, however, disagree and are beginning to prosecute those within China who want to provide this spotlight (Chinese Olympic critic to stand trial for subversion).

If the people within China cannot provide this spotlight it is surely up to those from the outside to do so. Which is why I couldn't believe my eyes when Ravn wrote in another thread (before the news this week I hasten to add):

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

As I said before, the spotlight on China and the increased awareness of the regime over there is a silver lining and more realistic than hoping for some movement towards change. The kind of comments that Ravn has made seek to deny us even that small glimmer of hope. I don't agree with boycotts but getting annoyed with the media (and youtube video bloggers) because, presumably, their message is inconvenient and may tarnish the build up to the games does a great disservice to those who have to live under a repressive regime and don't enjoy such freedom of press.

Change was never going to happnen. A greater awareness of China in the wider world is the best we can hope for. If some people here want to put their hands over their ears and shout "LA LA LA!" and go on to enjoy China's megalympics, then so be it. But don't try to deny the rest of us the opportunity 2008 brings to show China in all its colours, good and bad.

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What it makes me angry is that the olympics are supossed to be an event which promotes better relationships with the societies. About my comment on a previous thread, i'm against the people who tries to trash these games all the time with the Tibet thing (altought they are not perfect, lets watch the air polution), but not against their possition against Chinese goverment. But now, after the recent events on China, i think i will have to regret my previous opinion, since i believed until now that the chinese goverment would have more caution. This could be a sad oportunity of having a bloodbath soon (they have warned already to the disidents there to give up until tomorrow, or they will face all the weight of the law.), something i hope doesn't happen.

For those who have read history, you will know that all goverments and powers built by blood and violence will not have a happy ending. Soviet Union wasn't eternal. So will not communism in China.

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Well, Rogge and Samaranch sure have egg on their faces now. I have always miantained it was inevitable the Beijing Games would get politicised.

That said, I am strongly against a boycott. It's just far too divisive and bitter a move to make.

What about the formula used by some, like Australia and the UK, at Moscow?

First, leave it up to individual athletes' consciences whether to compete or not. Actually, particuipation at any games is always up to an athlete's conscience _ nobody is forcing them to ever compete.

Then, those nations that are offended by what is happening have their team march under the Olympic Flag rather then their national flag _ or no flag at all!

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In my point of view it was very predictable that something like this will happen - yes the IOC has disgraced itself, because there is a discrepancy between the reality and their own claim (to believe that Olympic Games could change China for good)...

Beijing got the Games, since the PR China is the largest new market and the best place to earn money at the moment.

But I agree with roltel - a boycott is really just a punishment for the athletes only...

Edited by Citius Altius Fortius
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Well, it seem like some athletes are indeed considering the big "B":

BERLIN, March 16 AFP - International Olympic Committee vice-president Thomas Bach says a number of top athletes are considering boycotting the games in China over the bloody crackdown on protesters in Tibet.

``Several sports stars are feeling ill at ease when they think about the Olympic Games. Some are even considering cancelling,'' Bach, of Germany, told Sunday's edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Bach said he understood the athletes' concerns about the situation in Tibet but said he was advising them to participate.

``They will realise when they assess the situation that it is better to make an appearance than to stay away. That is a symbol that will be noticed by the public,'' he said.

Asked if human rights had been a concern when Beijing was selected to host the August Games, Bach said the IOC believed the intense focus on China would have a positive effect.

``We are of the opinion that the Games will help China open up. But we cannot solve the problems that UN secretaries-general have not been able to solve for generations,'' he said.

``The Olympic Games can foster change and be a catalyst for a solution but they are not a panacea.''

Bach said the current debate over China reminded him of the discussions before the US-led boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980 over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

He urged an end to the violence in Tibet.

``We call on both sides to reject violence,'' he said. ``I hope there will be a peaceful solution.''

The newspaper quoted German athletes expressing doubts about China as the host for the Games.

``I have considered whether I can compete in China under these conditions,'' equestrian Ludger Beerbaum said. ``We will surely discuss the issue amongst ourselves here at the tournament in Dortmund (running until Sunday).''

Javelin thrower Christian Obergfoell said the Games were her first priority but that her impression of China had worsened with the latest developments.

``I had been asking myself the whole time why they gave the Olympic Games to China,'' she said.

``After Tibet, my feeling will not be any better.''

The unrest in Tibet followed three days of protests by hundreds of monks in Lhasa, India and elsewhere around the world marking the anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule.

The Tibetan government-in-exile has said 80 have been confirmed dead in the Himalayan region, contradicting the Chinese official report of 10 fatalities.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama today condemned the violence but said the Beijing Olympics should go ahead, rejecting calls for a boycott by Tibetan exiles.

AFP

Edited by Sir Roltel
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It's all part of the 'unofficial Rotation' policy: 1936 Berlin (Europe), 1968 Mexico (the Americas), 1980 Moscow (Europe), 2008 Beijing (Asia).

When is it PyongYang's turn?

Nuh _ we've just had (orn about to have) Asia. They're gonna have to rush to give it to Cuba while the Castros are still in charge.

Edited by Sir Roltel
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@ British, Aussie and Kiwi members,

was it a decision of every single athlete to participate at the Moscow Games?

No, in Australia there were some high profile athletes who chose not to go in 1980.

Our world record holder in the women's 400m and 800m freestuyle swimming at the time, Tracey Wickham, for example, chose to personally boycott Moscow.

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No, in Australia there were some high profile athletes who chose not to go in 1980.

Our world record holder in the women's 400m and 800m freestuyle swimming at the time, Tracey Wickham, for example, chose to personally boycott Moscow.

...my question was mistakable - I meant were the athletes allowed to decide themselves to go or not to go, but you have answered this question already!!!

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@ British, Aussie and Kiwi members,

was it a decision of every single athlete to participate at the Moscow Games?

:mellow: Woooo this is a good question.

New Zealand athletes were told NOT to attend by the then dictator like Prime Minister Robert Muldoon. Who was leaned on by the almighty US of A (just watch War on Democarcy as an example).

In those days, the Government held tight sway over everybody as 90% of all jobs were government controlled. The threat was made that athletes would not be allowed to take holidays and employers were forced to come down hard on any that tried to. The only athletes that participated were the rowing fours that had been stationed in Moscow before NZ joined the boycott. They could only attend under the NZOCG federation flag and if they were to win gold, the Olympic Anthem was to be played.

Pretty darn stupid if you tell me...all to "keep the good guys happy". :angry:

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@ British, Aussie and Kiwi members,

was it a decision of every single athlete to participate at the Moscow Games?

From what I've read of the wranglings about whether we went to Moscow or not, it appears that it was decided on a sport by sport basis. Certainly the Conservative government of the day under Mrs Thatcher put significant pressure on the British Olympic Association to join the US-led boycott which the BOA, to their eternal credit, refused to do.

Despite that, some sporting bodies, such as hockey, chose not to send representatives while most sports did field teams. When they got to Moscow, however, they marched as 'BOA' behind the Olympic flag.

Like most people, I'm not at all surprised that we are now hearing stories of unease and considerations of boycotts. I suspect these stories will only grow in the months to come, but I'm not convinced they will come to very much in the end. Did the boycotts of the 80s achieve very much? No they didn't, so why should this be any different?

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I just wonder if our Chinese members are able to see/read this thread in the PR of China?

i know this "news" two days ago var TV and net.

That's really a bad thing for Beijing 2008 Games.

As a Chinese lived in China mainland, i have to say that China is really trying to change the situation of Human Rights.

But these things about Tibet is something about nation's sovereignty. I also have net friends lived in Tibet. And they also very angry about these actions of terrorism.

about the topic about "10 reported..." i still can't connect... dont know if my net has some problem...

as i could connect, i will say something..

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From what I've read of the wranglings about whether we went to Moscow or not, it appears that it was decided on a sport by sport basis. Certainly the Conservative government of the day under Mrs Thatcher put significant pressure on the British Olympic Association to join the US-led boycott which the BOA, to their eternal credit, refused to do.

Yes, it seems the Oz, NZ and the UK Olympic committees all had the same kind of enormous pressure placed on them by our respectiove governments. Our PM of the time, Malcolm Fraser, certainly put tremendious pressure on the AOC to support the US boycott. And like the BOA, to their credit, they told the government to get stuffed and left it to individual athletes to decide for themselves.

It was also the bitterness over this incident between the AOC and Fraser that led to Australia (Sydney) NOT bidding for the 1988 games. There was certainly an expectation that Sydney would bid for the games for Australia's Bicentennial Year, but after the political disputes over the boycott and the ensuing bad blood between the AOC and the Federal Government, Fraser refused to give his support for a bid, leaving the field alone to Seoul and Nagoya to fight it out.

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I just wonder if our Chinese members are able to see/read this thread in the PR of China?

I'm in Beijing and I can answer "yes" as obviously I can get to this thread right now. However, the thread below about the r!ots in T!b@t is completely blocked by the Chinese Net Nanny filters. Same on other internet sites (including the major news ones like cnn.com, etc.) on those particular stories. Access by proxy server only, and even then you have to keep changing proxies as the Great Firewall staff tracks and shuts them off. I have some access to foreign language TV media (cnnasia, bbcworld, tvasie) and since Friday night, stories on this situation are blacked out, except for the "propaganda" heavily edited clips produced by China Central Television. Oddly, just an hour ago an excerpt of a new interview with the D. L@m@ popped up--the censors must have been out for a coffee break and failed to hit the interrupt button. Really though, the vast majority of the population with access only to Chinese news media are being given only very sketchy and incomplete stories that of course, revile the T!ib@t@ns as hooligans and splittists, who will shortly receive their just punishment if they don't step back in line. Sorry about the symbols use, but I'm trying to avoid getting my gamesbids access or even my entire Internet access blocked (yes the Chinese ISP has the ability to do this).

Although I have always deplored the decision to give the PRC the Olympics, it is a done deal and will go on in some form or fashion. I don't advocate a boycott because the Chinese gov't just isn't responsive to that sort of in-your-face thing--though it would shake them up and cause loss of face. Cfm jeremie has it correctly--the one thing the Chinese will listen to and change policies is when you hit them in the wallet. And the smartest way for other gov'ts to do this is not gorilla-style political chest-beating, but to quietly and consistently across the board slap additional bureaucratic pressures on all goods coming from China into their countries. As individuals, you can do your part by shutting your own wallets and not buying anything "made in China." It may not have the drama of an Olympic boycott nor will it produce instant results, but collectively it will be more effective in the long run.

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