Monday, June 02, 2008

A Chinese train wreck waiting to happen

There are a lot of reasons to hate the International Olympic Committee. Which makes it all the more amazing that IOC president Jacques Rogge is positioning himself as the white hat in the lead-up to the Beijing Games.

But, yet that's where we are. China, who absolutely, without a doubt, should not be hosting these Games--giving the Olympics to China was a bit like buying a new Porsche for a car thief in the hope that your generous gift would help him behave better. China doesn't get it. It doesn't want to get it. It wants us to get them and to leave them alone--crushing dissent is their business and it's none of our concern how they go about it.

But, because the IOC ignored the less sexy, but far more deserving, bid China has the power now. It's not like the IOC can pull the plug and move the Games this close to the opening ceremonies. Mr. Rogge can talk about "freedom of expression being a human right" all he wants, but it won't be heard by the Chinese. If people protest during the Olympics, they will be arrested.

Despite that understanding--and the knowledge that the authorities will likely be ruthless in their dealings with protesters--there will be demonstrations. It will be up to the media at the Games to ensure that every action by the Chinese is reported on fully and clearly. The Toy Department has shown that it can run with the serious press before. But, Beijing will be a chance for it to really prove its worth. Hopefully, they won't let us down.


Andrew Bucholtz said...

Well said. I'm with you on this one. Also, nice Andrew Jennings reference.

sager said...

There's just such a sense of helplessness over this... I already anticipate that I won't watch any of the Olympics this summer, due to the time change and what the Chinese government stands for.

Now, granted, Toronto might have dodged a bullet not getting the games. Organizing the Olympics is a lot like owning a boat -- the happiest day is when you buy it and the second-happiest is when you sell it.

Granted, T.O. could have used the Games to make some infrastructure improvements that it's never going to get federal money for due to EHT syndrome.

Ultimately, though, Canada got the 2010 Winter Games and there's a chance that 2016 will go to Chicago, which is not hard to get to if anyone really wants to go to an Olympics.

sager said...

Not to mention Chinese rowers are being accused of out-and-out cheating.

Anonymous said...

Will referees and judges who make a call against the home team be arrested for disturbing the peace?

Jeff Dertinger said...

The toughest part for me is the innocent athletes going over there. These people work their whole lives to acheive Olympian status, and when they finally get to go - it's communist China.

Port Dover's Megan Timpf deserves better

sager said...

I'm mad at myself for playing along for the last 6 1/2 years.

I was in the camp of just figuring that taking the Games to China was Juan Antonio Samaranch's parting shot, uh, lasting legacy and that speaking up was futile.

Probably the most effective thing is don't watch the Olympics excessively (which won't be too hard with the time change, although I confess to watching the women's world hockey championship when it was in Harbin, China) and buy less product from the major sponsors. Vote with the ol' wallet.

Duane Rollins said...

In a perfect world, but...

I can't help myself. I love amateur sport and the Summer Olympics come along too infrequently for me to ignore them from a sport perspective.

The CBC is talking about only covering sports if the Chinese put restrictions on what they can and can't say--no travel/culture coverage, no arts, nothing but women's rowing (for example). I don't mind that approach (because it is hitting them in the wallet and as a sport junkie it will mean more exposure to sports that don't get shown all that often). But, they need to work to cover the news aspect of the Games as well. It's not OK to just throw up your hands and show handball if China tries to be (more) controlling).

Big V said...

You gotta feel for the athletes like Jeff said.

I would hate for someone else to decide an athletes fate. Imagine working all your life for this two week period, then being told by a politician that China has done some unethical things... your not going.
It should be up to the individual athletes.

If the athletes are in danger that is a different story...