Occasional outbursts from respective governments who feel cheated from international conspiracies are sometimes bothered by the interference of politics on sport. As the Games of the 29th Olympiad go on in Beijing, China there were some tense moments as the games were ready to begin.
Today, there may be little that separate sport and politics, because it is all about who wins. However, after the victory, then what? An athlete celebrates and looks to greater challenges ahead, While in politics, after the victory, there is no more challenge until the next race is about to start. In other words, no real preparation goes on.
As we all look at the Olympic Games in China a former resident of China Kathy Xu is quoted as saying “it’s not just about how fast you can run or how far you can jump,” but I think having [China] hosting the Olympics is the exact opposite of what the Olympics claim to promote.”
She went even further by indicating that the International Olympic Committee has turned a blind eye to how the Chinese support governments of Sudan and Zimbabwe. The question is, would a boycott be good at this time? We reflect quickly on the games in Moscow in 1980 where up to 62 countries stayed away; and in 1984 in Los Angeles where there was another boycott.
Where do we cross the line? Are governments ever going to get it? As consumers we ought to question the silence of the sponsors, who pump billions of dollars into the staging of these games. This may be an indication of their support of the oppression people face. Or do they think the support is strictly to the hosting of the games. Is the IOC going to ever say to a country “because you violate certain basic principles of human life, you are not eligible to host.” Can this happen?
Here is just an example of what has happened in three Olympic Games which were boycotted. In 1980 in Moscow the protest was about the Soviet’s invasion fo Afghanistan. In Los Angeles, security concerns were the main reason and only 14 countries stayed away; while in 1988 in Seoul, North Korea, Cuba and Ethiopia boycotted because of South Korea’s refusal to acknowledge North Korea as co-host.
The question is…could Jamaica have boycotted because they thought that China’s support of Zimbabwe was wrong? Especially when we think that this is the year where the best medal prospects exist?
The impact of the games will always be positive and the question we want to ask ourselves will human rights get better or worse after the Olympic Games? There is no doubt that new friends, contact and networking opportunities will be made and explored and the athletes will benefit. As consumers we also have an opportunity to view exciting and competitive events.
100 metres finals
At the time of writing this column, the 100 metres semi final listing for men was out and I was calling and emailing around to pick the top eight. What I was proud of is, there were three Jamaicans in the top 16 men in 100 metres in the world in 2008.
There were five other men from the Caribbean, making this region representing 50 per cent of the field. Could we use that to market the Caribbean as the greatest destination in the world? Yes we can (to borrow a phrase from the Obama campaign).
How will that end? I am sure we would have all known by now