27 March 2008

Olympics: boycott, or better...

Been out of action on the blog again for a week - apologies. I took a week off work this week and have been trying to keep away from dirty old politics and look round a few galleries and stuff.

But it's been hard to keep away from two stories - firstly the 'debate' over the embryo bill (if one can call it that, as it seems to boil down to a few reactionary Catholic clergy against the rest of us, who use our brains to think through an issue rather than relying on a Stalinist diktat from the Vatican) on the other); and secondly the debate over whether to boycott the Olympics - which is a little more nuanced.

Many, many people are now calling for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics in protest at human rights violations by the Chinese government, most obviously in Tibet. I'm sympathetic - certainly if the US felt justified in boycotting Moscow in 1980 then there's just as much reason, if not more, to boycott in this case.

Having said that, there may be a way to express protest which is even more effective than a boycott. I don't know if the Great Britain kit design for the athletes competing in the games has yet been finalised, but if it were possible to include on the vests, in as large letters as possible, "FREE TIBET NOW" (in Chinese and English), this would be an effective way of getting the message across while continuing to compete. If every country attending the games included the "FREE TIBET NOW" slogan on their kits, in Chinese and their own language, this would send a big signal to the Chinese government regarding just what we think of the Tibet occupation. They would then have a choice of (a) cancelling the games to avoid the Tibet publicity - which would totally backfire; (b) arresting all competitors from other countries and continuing the games with Chinese competitors only; or (c) continuing the games and giving free publicity to the Tibetan cause. Either way, it would be a big statement. So how about it? Oh, sorry, I forgot, London is hosting the Olympics in 2012 and so we need to avoid pissing off other regimes, no matter what a bunch of bastards they are, so that they won't impose a reciprocal boycott and damage 'our' games. Silly me...

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