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So, there are rumblings around the world as the Olympic Torch makes its way to China for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. There are anti-China protests in the streets and calls for boycotting the XXIX Olympics altogether.
What's this world coming to? OK, I agree that China is NOT a model country as far as human rights are concerned, but that's not the purpose of the Olympics. They're a sports competition meant to unite the world. Athletes from all countries gathering together, competing in friendly competitions, forging friendships that span time and space.
Boycotting the Games is simply wrong - we tried this with Moscow in 1980 and the results were devastating. Athletes that had spent their lives training for the 1980 Olympics had their dreams dashed. The "alternate" Olympics paled in comparison. It wasn't the same for the athletes nor the spectators. Didn't we learn anything from that fiasco 28 years ago?
Apparently not. People and politicians want to once again use the athletes and their peaceful gathering as a political tool to send a "message" to China. What message will China receive? That the world hates her and wants to further isolate her? That her people should be denied contact with the outside world? Harden her views against the rest of the world?
NO - we must NOT boycott the Beijing Olympics, at any cost. Let the athletes gather and compete. Let China shine (briefly) in the world spotlight. Perhaps the Games will emboldened the Chinese populace to agitate for more change. We'll never know if the 1980 Moscow Games would have further hastened the fall of Communist Russia had the US and its allies not boycotted the Games.
DON'T use sports or the athletes as pawns in a political war. What message do we send to this troubling world if something as peaceful and unifying as the Olympics degenerates into bickering, boycotting and protesting?
There's a time and place for change and protest. The Olympics (Beijing or otherwise) are not the place nor the time.
Let the Games begin --- in peace.
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