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New York Post: Boycott The Beijing Games

August 7, 2008

From The New York Post
By Jonathan Zimmerman

I LOVE everything about sports, but when the Olympic Games start later this week in Beijing, I’m not going to watch. And neither should you. Call it the People’s Boycott.

Despite worldwide protests, every major nation is sending its athletes to Beijing. That’s all the more reason for you and I to stage our own silent demonstration. If you want to change the Olympics, change the channel.

Anything less will make you party to the cynical brutality of China’s leaders, who’ve broken nearly every promise they made when they were awarded the Games back in 2001. For example, the government pledged to allow journalists unfettered access to the Internet during the Olympics – yet censors have blocked Web sites like Radio Free Asia and Amnesty International.

This same regime bankrolls Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was recently indicted for genocide and war crimes in Darfur. China invests a billion dollars a year in Sudan and buys two-thirds of its oil. But Beijing turns a deaf ear to the world, insisting that the Darfur crisis is an “internal affair.”

It uses that same line on Tibet, of course – where China crushed a rebellion earlier this spring. Ditto for its jailing of political dissidents and muzzling of parents who lost children during last May’s earthquake. “Internal affairs,” all.

If you buy that, go ahead and watch the Olympics. But if you think that people should have the same human rights, no matter where they live, then it’s incumbent upon you to look away when the Games come on.

The boycott will face objections, of course. I can already predict five:

The Olympics shouldn’t be “political.” That’s like saying unmarried men shouldn’t be bachelors. The Olympics have always been political. They were political in 1936, when Adolf Hitler used the games to burnish his international standing; in ’68, when two African-American medal-winners raised their fists in a black power salute; in ’72, when Palestinian terrorists murdered 11 Israeli athletes; and in ’80, when 60 nations boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

One of those boycotting nations was (you guessed it) the People’s Republic of China.

Protesting the Olympics reflects “anti-Chinese” bigotry. No, it doesn’t. It’s a critique of China’s government, not its citizens. I’ve written hundreds of columns questioning the US government’s behavior, but that doesn’t mean I’m “anti-American.” So why does a demand for an Olympic boycott make me “anti-Chinese”?

The United States commits its own human-rights abuses, in Iraq and elsewhere. I’m no friend of the war in Iraq – but I’m free to tell you that, in print and in person, without fear of government goons harrassing me or my family. Chinese dissidents aren’t so lucky.

The boycott will penalize hard-working athletes. That was the best argument I heard against a true Olympic boycott: If a country withheld its athletes, their toil and preparation would go for naught. But all nations are participating now – how does turning off your TV set hurt the competitors? They’ll still get to play, but they’ll also get put on notice that lots of people object.

The boycott won’t make a difference. Maybe not this year. But down the road, it will. After all, NBC bid nearly $900 million to broadcast the Beijing Games. If its TV ratings suffer, you can bet that the International Olympic Committee – which gets the bulk of its revenue from broadcast fees – will think twice before awarding the games to another dictatorial government.

And remember: Whether you watch the Olympics or not, your children will be watching you. One day, people will read about the Beijing Games and ask how the world could possibly play along. Your kids will have a ready answer: We didn’t. And they’ll be proud of it, too.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Tenzin permalink
    August 13, 2008 3:48 pm

    FT announces Free Tibet 2008 Television
    Posted August 11, 2008 at 5:43 PM

    Students for a Free Tibet has a new online video channel broadcasting from London throughout the worldwide uprising for Tibetan freedom during the Beijing Olympics: Free Tibet 2008 Television, or FT08.TV.

    With all the Olympic actions for Tibet taking place and particularly the incredible success of the ‘opening’ banner action outside Beijing’s ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium on Aug. 6th and subsequent media storm here in the UK, it took some time to get FT08.TV ready for prime time.

    But with the dedicated help of lots of people, SFT’s new video channel is up and running, and filled with lots of must-see on-demand content, including inspiring Tibet activist video-profiles, action reports, video-blogs, and more.

    We’re also airing a nightly Windhorse Report live from London with SFT leaders Tenzin Dorjee and Han Shan – a roundup of reports from Beijing and around the world during the Olympics, with breaking news about protests, call-in interviews with news-making activists, episodes of SFT-TV (the efforts of SFT’s global grassroots), and info and analysis about the situation on the ground in Tibet.

    There will be more and more compelling content to watch every day and we’ll be improving the channel/website as we go (after all, this is but one small facet of our Olympic efforts right now). But please come check it out: surf around the many videos on the channel, or watch the stream (click on “Streaming Now” in the upper left-hand corner). Last but not least, you’re invited to submit video… check out the channel for more on what we’re looking for.

    Please help spread the word about FT08.TV– join the facebook group, blog about it, embed the videos, spam your address book – and of course, keep watching.

    And don’t forget to visit SFT’s Olympics Campaign website: http://www.FreeTibet2008.org and SFT’s blog: http://www.blog.studentsforafreetibet.org for more news and analysis from the frontlines of the current global effort to make Olympic history for Tibet.

    Note: many thanks to Nathan Dorjee, Shannon Service, Andi Mignolo, Alex Fountain, Thupten Nyima, Kala Mendoza, and many others for helping to make FT08.TV happen at this critical time.
    5:32 PM

    Go on your facebook, etc to announce freetibet2008.tv/live. After go on “social justice” websites like “witness.org” (check it out) to announce ft08.tv. Also check out blogs discussing Tibet issue’s and post the official ft08 announcement.

    Check out recent news articles on Tibet. Usually they have “comment” sections, post the ft08 annoucement.

  2. August 10, 2008 4:18 pm

    yeah, and McDonald’s should never get your money anyway. they are into some bad stuff:
    http://www.mcspotlight.org/case/pretrial/factsheet.html

  3. August 10, 2008 12:31 pm

    Pizza is better for the soul anyways. ;-)

  4. August 9, 2008 9:20 pm

    I think you’re onto something though, the idea would have a better impact. While I was in Rhode Island today I started to get hungry and almost went to McDonalds, but remembered they were a BIG advertiser for this years Olympics, so I skipped it and had pizza.

  5. August 9, 2008 9:14 pm

    I’m not sure about boycotting. I mean, I AM not watching, but that’s easy for me ’cause I dont really care about too many sporting events.

    Seems to me that to boycott Chinese products, and advertisers during the opening and closing ceremonies, might be the most effective way to go. But then, what do I know?

  6. August 9, 2008 12:33 am

    How about one for Palestine people as well, and Chechens, and Kashmiris, and Thai Malayians, and Iraqis, and Afghanis … I think not … no one complained in West when Bosnians were ethnically cleansed.

  7. August 7, 2008 11:47 pm

    I can’t see boycotting the events. These athletes have worked hard to get to this spot and it’s not fair to them to boycott the events. Boycott the opening and closing ceremonies.

    If you really want to make your point financially don’t watch the events live. TiVo / DVR the events you want to watch. This way when you watch them later you can skip the commercials. These kinds of things are noticed by networks and advertisers. You see the event, the athlete gets to compete and the advertiser realizes you have boycotted the ads and ceremonies.

  8. Gregor permalink
    August 7, 2008 10:13 pm

    Hmmmm . . . I’m really torn. I’d love to watch the fencing that is finally getting a major timeslot for U.S. broadcast. But, when it comes down to it I can’t see myself wanting to be part of the corrupt system either.

    I’ll probably “boycott” and not watch them. I’m definitely not interested in feeding into the propaganda. The Olympics have been ruined by capitalist greed, coca-cola, Mcdonalds and now they are being exploited by the Chinese government. Not cool.

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