Sunday 6 April 2008

Snuff out that Olympic torch already

Non-political Olympics

I can only wonder how long we can continue to delude ourselves into thinking the Olympics has no political connotations.

I would acquiesce to that feeling only when representation at the Olympics moves on from geo-political entities called countries or nations and allows for independent participation. Let a world-citizen complete without having to be affiliated to some country and let the best sportsman win regardless.

Press-ganged by China

I have no problems with China hosting the Olympics in Beijing but that honour comes with global scrutiny which cannot be caged in some restraint of protest because of discomfort.

It is amazing that we find European countries being forced into uncomfortable and embarrassing authoritarian police action all to appease China whilst China tries to manage the propaganda at home by demonising any dissent.

Berlin to Beijing

The parallels; the showcasing of the 1936 Berlin Olympics under the Nazis who were announcing the arrival of Germany on the world stage and the 2008 Beijing Olympics announcing the arrival of Communist China on the world stage leaves us without much scope for irony because the reality is as stark as we all can see.

The Chinese have great national pride just as the Germans under Nazi occupation but they have none of the great liberal freedoms that we in the West take for granted and that allows them to condone other unpalatable regimes around the world for the reason that they term certain matters internal even though the issues affect humanity and the human race - global review can no more condone this kind of oppression.

The matter of the Olympic torch relay is interesting because it owes its progeny to the Nazis in 1936, why we need to have the torch tour countries other than the penultimate host, Greece and the host country, escapes me – it is as political as you can make the sport without owning up to the fact that it is political.

Politics in sport in politics

Politicians and sportspersons with political leverage in some ways would handle that dreadful torch and send all sorts of messages to the whole world.

I sympathise with the fact that sportspersons look for the ultimate accolade and challenge at the Olympics, nowhere is national pride so displayed for a global audience as the Olympics, the football World Cup does not come close with just 32 countries.

I am not advocating a boycott, but there has to be a message sent out to all well-meaning people and those who think they can through propaganda silence the yearnings and aspirations of their people need the force of humanity at a gathering such as the Olympics to highlight the plight of the oppressed and have something constructively done about it.

For glory or honour

We should not in the quest for Olympic glory forget that there is an honourable duty to perform on behalf of the oppressed, the suppressed and the disenfranchised.

If we cannot bring into our sportsmanship that quality of moral outrage in support of those who have been so battered by governments they did not chose, who rule over them with an iron fist but have no legitimacy with their constituency – then it is time to snuff out that Olympic flame forthwith and send the wet and watered wick back to Beijing.

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