Saturday, March 29, 2008

Paul Lewis: Tibetan protest just latest in hijackings

5:00AM Sunday March 30, 2008
It's a crock, as is much of the non-sport, window-dressing of the Olympics; things like opening and closing ceremonies. Mightily impressive was the one opening ceremony I have attended, at LA in 1984. At one stage, out of the entire side of the LA Coliseum, dozens of pianists suddenly appeared, each on a little balcony which shot out of the side of the stadium - black guys in white tuxes, playing white baby grands and white guys in black tuxes, playing black baby grands. All symbolic, beautifully engineered, timed and executed - a triumph of the American art of staging a classy event...

But that's the great downside of the Olympics - pure sport has an awful lot of soapbox shinola to break through. Think back - to the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the boycott by the African nations aimed at New Zealand's support of South Africa's apartheid regime. The 1980 boycott of the Soviet Olympics in Moscow was motivated by the Western world making a political point...

You can go even further back to find the first political manipulation - 1936, to be precise, when that Hitler bloke tried to use the Olympics to shine a light on his Aryan nation.

That exercise in prolonged and boring grandeur - the torch relay - didn't stem from the Corinthian ideals of ancient Greece; bloody old Adolf invented it for the 1936 Berlin Olympics...

Our politicians could lead the way - but wait... There's this landmark free trade agreement between China and New Zealand hanging in the balance. This means China could probably drop nuclear weapons on gay whales driving electric cars and could cut the top off Mt Everest to make a trans-continental highway and the most our government would likely say would be: "Tax cuts, anyone?"

No, the dollar rules in the Olympics as much as it does anywhere else. Expecting our athletes to fight the good fight is not only passing the buck, it's like asking the horses to ride the cowboys.

If we genuinely want to punish China for Tibet, Darfur and other issues, we need to do it as a nation - not neatly slip off the noose of responsibility by passing it round the necks of our athletes. Full Article Link

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