Friday, April 27, 2007

China, IOC Flailing In Response To Protest

Posted by Matt Browner Hamlin on SFT BLOG

We at SFT have spent the last couple of days working extensively to support the activists who staged an historic protest on Mount Everest against China’s occupation of Tibet and the Beijing Olympic Games and help tell their story to the international press. But as we work to spread the news about this high-altitude action, I would be remiss to not draw attention on the words and statements made by key figures at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Chinese officials in response to this protest.

The crux of the IOC’s continued silence on China’s occupation of Tibet is that they do not believe that they are a body that engages in politics. The IOC uses this position to abdicate its ability to affect positive change:

“We are not in a position that we can give instructions to governments as to how they ought to behave,” Hein Verbruggen, chief of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Beijing Games, said Wednesday.

Verbruggen was asked about calls for a boycott to pressure China to do more to stop the violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

“We don’t want to be, as the IOC, involved in any political issues,” he said. “It’s not our task. We are here for organizing the Games.”

The IOC has requirements and expectations that host nations must meet. It has given China a set of environmental, press, and human rights standards that the PRC must abide by in order to keep the IOC happy, at least in theory. And yet Verbruggen claims they are “not in a position [to] give instructions to governments as to how they ought to behave”? The IOC is denying its own agency as one of the most influential organizations in the world. The IOC is choosing to not be involved in the controversies of its host nation because its leadership lacks the human decency to use power to help those in need. Instead, Rogge, Verbruggen and the rest of the Committee use their influence to protect a corrupt, tyrannical government.

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