Well, the latest notion floating around the blogosphere is whether or not the US should boycott this summer’s Olympics in China — either entirely or partly.
I am of two minds on this.
On the one hand, I wouldn’t mind if the athletes chose to boycott the games. From what I’ve heard, the pollution in and around Beijing is on the scale of Mexico City, if not worse. The air and the water are supposed to be horrific, and that can’t be good for athletes.
But the other push is for President Bush to not attend the opening ceremonies and not give an address.
As loath as I am to bring politics into the Games, let’s face it — that ship left the dock a LONG time ago. I would be tremendously proud of President Bush if he were to start off praising the dedication and determination of the athletes, and their performances, and all that, and then compare their embodiment of the loftiest human ideals and individual accomplishments with the brutal oppression and crushing of individualism under such tyrannical regimes as, say, China. I am quite certain that the Chinese (who have made every promise of exerting iron-fisted control over pretty much any reports from the Games, particularly for their own people) will prevent at least domestic coverage of Bush’s remarks, but that, too, would be a part of the message.
And then I recall a certain quirk of history: whenever a dictatorship hosts the Olympics, it seems that within a relatively short time that dictatorship falls. Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany planned to make the 1936 Games a showpiece of Aryan supremacy; ten years later, they were all dead, imprisoned, or on the run. The Soviet Union was proud as punch to host the 1980 Games in Moscow; the Soviet Union itself would barely survive a decade. And Tito’s Yugoslavia showcased the triumph of communism over ethnic and tribal and historic rivalries for the 1984 Games, and we all know how well that turned out.
I note that Sochi in Russia has been chosen for the 2014 Winter games; that should be interesting, if Russia continues its “march forward to the past” course it has been setting.
So yeah, it’s a shame that politics has tainted the Olympic spirit. But I find myself moved by the spirit of Patrick Henry: “If this be treason, make the most of it.”