Wednesday, April 09, 2008

2008 Summer Olympic Games...




This is the time of year when I start to get really excited about the Olympics. If you’ve followed this blog through the years, you know how obsessed I get during the Games. It’s the only time I am EVER interested in sports, and the Summer Games bring out an extraordinary butchness in me. I watch soccer and tennis and basketball and marathons and totally love it, too. I also watch diving and swimming and gymnastics and wrestling, but for the obvious reasons (like this one, or this one). For about a month, I turn into the typical sweat-stained, wife-beater wearing, beer swilling, bad facial hair growing, straight male couch potato. I’ll sit in front of the T.V. and yell and scream and curse at bad refs and judges, and I’ll jump up and down until the plaster drops from the ceiling when I get excited. The Olympics actually make me emotional… I mean, I feel things. So I’m glad it only happens every two years.

But the fates have conspired to make the 2008 Summer Games less than magical…

This whole Tibet crisis is making me nervous. The recent protesting in Paris, in which the runners carrying the torch were mobbed during their relay, is just another link in a chain of events that foreshadows all sorts of trouble for the impending Games, and it breaks my heart. Some of that is guilt, though. I think the situation in Tibet is terrible, and I’m all for calling China out for her human rights violations, but I really hope the conflict doesn’t screw with the Games. Does that make me a bad person? Oh well, if the Games face a massive boycott or worse, it would totally serve China right, in my opinion, even if my Olympic experience is blown.

I’m not up to speed on the history of the Tibet/China conflict, but I do know the conflict is very old and very deep. So it’s completely understandable to me why the Tibetans would be eager to take advantage of the international attention that comes with the Olympics to increase awareness of their situation. But that’s my American sensibilities talking… you know, freedom of speech and assembly and all that jazz. It isn’t really like that in China. China is such a fascinating place. While it DOES have an abysmal record when it comes to human rights and basic freedoms, it’s still a powerful nation, capable of influencing the world in direct ways. The news today was from San Francisco, where both parties in the argument faced off – Tibetan sympathizers vs. Chinese Americans. It’s a shame that the moving tradition of the torch relay had to be reorganized and redirected on the fly because of relatively peaceful yet undeniably intense protests – many people who came out to witness the once in a lifetime moment left disappointed – but this is par for the course for Olympic host cities, I think. The double-edged sword of hosting a major international festival like the Olympics has cut many cities before. While China hoped that hosting the Olympics would highlight their progress and power, the media spotlight has also exposed their faults… their proverbial skeletons in the closet. Of course, they saw this coming, which is why they’ve spent the years leading up to the event meticulously and systemically rounding up and silencing their critics. In a way, they’ve created the monster themselves.

I very selfishly hope everything works out in a peaceful way so the Games can go on without too much drama, but I very much doubt such a thing is possible. I’m sure the Games will happen, but marred by protests, confrontations, scandals, and boycotts, all of which is in direct opposition to the spirit of the Games. I very unselfishly hope that the Games can be an impetus for change in China, because that would be good news.

2 comments:

Erin G said...

from what we saw in beijing last year, the olympics already have been an impetus for change in china, if it makes you feel better. and if the games open china's - and the world's - eyes, that's never a good thing. part of the olympics is about learning from each other and celebrating what makes every nation unique, so let's hope this year is no exception.

PS I like the michael phelps picture, but if we're doing a swimmer deature (and we definitely should), then I must nominate gary hall jr. HE's the one I grew up adoring. :)

Reeva*Dubois said...

I'll be sure to look up this Gary Hall, Jr. fellow... ;-)