China and the Olympic Spirit

My grimly favorite reaction to the protests which dogged the Olympic flame through London, Paris and other cities was by a Beijing Olympic official, curiously not named in this government sanctioned article, who said that the protests “blasphemed the Olympic spirit.” The irony that the actions of the goons and thugs who have ruled China for many decades have exemplified the antithesis of the Olympic spirit seems to have completely escaped him.
In the meantime, since those protests abroad, the government has permitted days of counter-demonstrations within China.

People gathered in front of [French retailer] Carrefour stores, chanting slogans of “Oppose Tibet independence” and “Oppose CNN’s anti-China statements,” referring to the international broadcaster, the official Xinhua news agency said.
They also chanted “Support the Olympics,” “Play up! China,” and “Condemn CNN” through loudspeakers.
More than 1,000 people assembled in front of a Carrefour store in the northwestern city of Xian holding protest banners, Xinhua said.

The Chinese government dispatched troops to protect Carrefour stores and now seems to be signaling for the protests to end.

But in recent days state media have called for calm in commentaries that have underscored the need for social stability ahead of the Beijing Olympics, the first time the nation has hosted such a prestigious event.

China’s dictatorship is too insecure to endure the passion of protests, even pro-Chinese and, by extension, pro-government ones. This insecurity has now infected the Nepal government, which has prohibited the climbing of Mount Everest beyond Camp 3 until May 10, when the Olympic torch is to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

The Nepal government’s stand comes in the wake of a heightened concern of the Chinese government towards ensuring a safe passage for the beleaguered torch.
The restrictions imposed on the mountaineers include prohibition of taking pictures or sending out any news clipping about their Himalayan expedition to the world outside. Moreover, they cannot proceed beyond Camp 3, at a height of about 7,000 metre. Liason officials have reportedly been posted at various points to ensure that the restrictions are strictly adhered to.
* * *
A senior NTB official confessed the western media, in particular, was piqued at these restrictions imposed by the government on the request of the Chinese government.
“But the Olympic Torch has to be protected at all cost. It is unreasonable on the part of westerners to make such a fuss about these restrictions, which are only temporary. In any case, people should respect the laws of the land they are travelling in,” said the official.

And The Kathmandu Post, via New Delhi Television, reports today that Nepalese security forces have been deployed to Everest with orders to “shoot if necessary”

Nepal government has deployed dozens of security personnel on Mount Everest with orders to shoot if necessary to thwart possible anti-China protests by Tibetans during Beijing’s planned Olympic torch run to the summit.
The security personnel equipped with logistics and mountaineering equipment have already moved to Camp II situated at an altitude of 6,600 metres above sea level, according to officials.
Also, the soldiers have been given orders to shoot if necessary, The Kathmandu Post daily reported on Sunday, quoting officials.

Can we get confirmation from that unnamed Chinese Olympic offical that this climbing restriction, not to mention the shoot-first-ask-questions-later order, are in keeping with the Olympic spirit?

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15 years ago

I try not to be too cynical when it comes to the Olympics. Governments and their idealogies cannot be permitted to snuff out the individual athlete and their quest for greatness. Olympic gold is an honorable goal, just being an Olympian quite an accomplishment.
The games have lost their way in recent years but I can’t help but hope that rational minds will prevail and plain, simple athletic competition will return.

15 years ago

Last week, IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge said any athlete making a political statement will be booted out of the Games had have his/her medals taken away.
Way to stand up for free speech, Jack.
I’d love to see some athlete, American or otherwise, call Mr. Vichy China’s bluff here. I’d rather see Americans go Tommy Smith and John Carlos than boycott and repeat Jimmy Carter’s giant mistake.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

The leftists will have to get rid of their little Mao hats.This protest business has angered a lot of Chinese people,including Americans of Chinese descent.It’s too bad because the culprit here is the Chinese government.People risk hazardous journeys in the holds of decrepit freighters to leave China-wonder why?
the Chinese government has allowed free enterprise and the accumulation of personal wealth just as long as one voices no opinion critical of official policy.
Let’s not kid ourselves about the Chinese government-they are the paradigm of the term “military-industrial complex”-much more so than the US.Our military leadership doesn’t have second jobs as CEO’s of industry,as the Chinese military leadership does.
China is polluting air,water,and land with no regard for future generations-we have good environmental laws in the US,but the David Segals keep running us down -why doesn’t young Rep.Segal picket the Chinese consulate?
I don’t care a hoot if we boycott the Olympics or not-I have no interest in this overblown dog and pony show.

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