Olympic Games, Politics and Public Opinion

On March 20, President George W. Bush’s spokeswoman said “the President’s position about Olympics has been that this is not a political event but a chance for athletes to compete at the top of their class.”


A month earlier President Bush told the BBC “I am going to the Olympics.  I view the Olympics as a sporting event.”


This is a very interesting comment coming from somebody who supported the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan where they were fighting basically the same people the US is fighting there today.


Not political, the Olympics?  Four years later the Soviet block boycott the Los Angeles Olympics to protest “excessive commercialization” and what they called “lack of security”.


Let us not forget that the whole Olympic Torch thing was invented by the Nazis for the 1936 Berlin Olympics where the regime set out to show the world Arian superiority.  The opening ceremony was the first ever televised.  Yes, Nazi Germany invented TV.


And good old Jesse Owens, who dented Nazi pride a little, was used as a political toy by an Apartheid USA.  The same goes for the victory of Joe Lewis over Max Schmeling in their 1938 Heavyweight rematch.  Schmeling had beaten the undefeated Joe Lewis in 1936 much to Nazi delight.  It is interesting the Americans would take such political pride from a Black boxer given Blacks were refused any frontline combat role in the war which followed.


Everything about the Olympics is political.  Our political leaders want to caress China for its lucrative markets.  They could care less about Human Rights.  What is important is how public opinion across borders has managed to force these hypocritical political leaders to pay lip service to so-called “Chinese guarantees” concerning Human Rights.


The party has already been spoiled.  The Olympic Flame has been doused, put out several times, hidden away and its carriers humiliated.  The same leaders who greeted the choice of Beijing are now mumbling about conditions for their presence at the Opening Ceremony and crocodile tears. Public Opinion does matter.