Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Should we boycott the Beijng Olympics?

I think it is time to revisit the call to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Various groups and campaigns have called for public boycotts of the Beijing Olympics, because attending the Olympics would be seen as turning a blind eye to the Chinese Government's domestic human rights abuses, and its role in the human rights abuses of other regimes. Foremost amongst these have been those campaigning for human rights and freedom in Tibet.

Reporters Without borders has information on the campaign to boycott the Beijing Olympics.

Not long ago, I supported the boycott call as a way to highlight how the Burmese military dictatorship is supported by China – in terms of political support, international legitimacy and trade dollars – and to pressure the Chinese to drop their endorsement of the Burmese regime, thus allowing the Burmese democracy movement room to breath.

More recently came the news that Steven Spielberg, following the example of other Hollywood celebrities, had pulled out of his involvement in the Beijing Olympics because many argued that such involvement was seen as an endorsement of the Chinese government – which was unacceptable in light of the Chinese's continuing arms sales to the Sudanese government, and how those arms are used to oppress the people of Dafur, and other minorities in Southern Sudan.

Now, according to ABC Radio 774 AM this morning, Australian Senator Andrew Bartlett has called for an Australian boycott of the Beijing Olympics because of China's brutal crackdown of protesters in Tibet who are highlighting China's brutal treatment of Tibetans in their homeland.

Now, you can consider how realistic a boycott of the Olympic Games would be – considering Rudd's attitude towards China, it is not surprising that Australia has rejected the call for an official boycott of the Games. Nor can we expect enough pressure to mount in this short time for other countries to formally boycott the games. In these changed geo-politics, we won't see the tit-for-tat Cold War tactics that led to the official Moscow and Los Angeles Games boycotts.

Howevever, in light of the brutal crackdown on Tibetan rights protesters, we must not allow China to once again brush off insipid international criticism and the
UN's glacial, byzantium manouverings of registering its 'concerns'.

The fact is, China will put on a multi-billion dollar pageant for the world in only a few months – in the guise of an international sporting competition – that will be a huge propaganda exercise to show a modern, stable, prosperous, peaceful – and unified – China. And we should not buy it. Literally.

In an age of consumer awareness and growing public consciousness, and the tools available to us, the possibilities of a consumer boycott of the Games are stronger. Don't go to Beijing for the Olympics, and if you, like me, can't afford to travel to China anyway to watch the Games, don't buy Olympics merchandise associated with the Beijing Olympics.

You can write lots of letters, emails and faxes to your Chinese embassy telling them this is how you feel and what you are doing, and write similar letters to your local papers, mention it on talk-back radio,
and leave such comments on blogs and online forums (as long as they are relevant to the topic, of course – I wouldn't endorse off-topic comment spam!).

You can tell your friends and family – especially if you know of people who are inclined to buy the inevitable sports clothes, tracksuit pants, predictable panda bear mascot and other paraphernalia emblazoned with the Beijing Olympics branding that we know will be made cheaply in Chinese factories with poor working conditions – that you don't want any of this stuff for either yourself or your kids (if you are parents), and why you think they should join you in boycotting it.

It worked with delegitimising South Africa's Apartheid regime, and it can work with China.

Let's not let China's regime off the hook for its deplorable human rights record.

[The image is of Tibetan monks who were beaten by Chinese security forces during the recent brutal crackdown on protests, from the ABC]

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At March 23, 2008 10:30 am, Anonymous Helen said...

I'm torn on this issue myself. I think we should boycott the Olympics, but in the case of the athletes the sacrifice is much higher than for everyone else. I'm thinking of one of my son's teachers at his Taekwondo school. And then they have to wait four more years - which some of them don't have.

If there was a lot of political will some alternative venue could be set up where the athletes are timed. So if boycotter athlete X, for instance, runs the 400 metres in better time than athlete Y who is actually at the Olympics, this could be publicised and an alternative "award" made.

But that's a bit of a pipe dream, it would mean an insane level of organisation and money.

If our athletes do go to the Olympics it would be great if they wrote "Free Tibet" and "China out of Tibet" on their stomachs then pulled their T shirts up a la Michael Long. But then, that might put them at risk from the petty and vicious officialdom or even police.

It sucks for the athletes. I usually don't bother with them and think we spend far too much taxpayer's money on them, but in this case I feel sympathy.

At April 03, 2008 7:08 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

please support our mission to boycott the games: http://www.noolympics2008.com/

At April 09, 2008 8:58 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diplomacy my BUTT!
The world tried that before Two World Wars. FLOWER POWER went out in the 60’s.
All the talk and GOOD WILL in the world failed. If it were not for 30 Million with guts, we may well be reading this in German, or even Japanese!. Grow Up!.
Just to twist the knife a little, look around your homes and see how many goodies you’ve bought which are MADE IN CHINA.


And the Lama should be burned at the stake.
Fine for him to denounce violence while his people are being murdered.
In a nutshell, words are cheap, and so are Armchair Worriers.
Les. Melbourne.

At April 12, 2008 4:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely!!!The opponents of a boycott claim it will hurt the athletes. Boo Hoo Hoo!!! I have more sympathy for the people who lost pets due to poisoned Chinses pet food than to these spoiled crybabies!!!!It's High Time that the US, Australia, and the rest of the Free World Stand Up to these Chinese Bullies and said NO, WE WILL NOT ATTEND THE BEIJING OLYMPICS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At April 15, 2008 3:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The West didn’t put China in the moral garbage bin,
China did it all by itself.
Here's a little proof.

** WARNING ** : Extremely Graphic !


At August 09, 2008 6:27 pm, Blogger Don said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,



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