Beijing Olympics: To Boycott or Not?

Sports Section Sounds Off


Published: May 1, 2008

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” This phrase, coined by ABC Sports in its coming of age in the 1970s and 1980s, was the perfect description of the Olympics.

As we approach the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, there is the thrill of the first Olympics in Asia since the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 and the Seoul Summer Olympics in 1988.

But with this thrill comes the agony of protests against China’s human rights record, its continued support of the genocide in Darfur and the troubled relations with Tibet.

The Summer Olympics are fast becoming a boycotter’s haven to spoil China’s “coming out party” and presents an opportunity for political unrest, rather than a platform for athletes to display their talents and represent the competitive spirit of such an event.

But are the Olympics the appropriate platform for boycotters to protest in hopes of forcing China to further examine it’s human rights record or re-open talks with an exiled leader of Tibet?

China’s suspect record on human rights challenges the moral fabric of other nations’ participation in a world sporting event that is embedded in world politics, despite its exhibitionary nature.  China is on the brink of becoming an economic leader in a world where Europe and the United States may be intertwined in an economic slow down.

The Sports section of The Observer debtates this topic, from the obligation of the U.S. government to the fairness for the athletes.

Kiran Hefa, Sports Editor

Boycotting the 2008 Olympics in China would be as politically inconsequential as boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics proved to be, with only the athletes suffering in this situation. Using one of the world’s few multinational institutions for political reasons would be manipulating the purpose of the Olympics in the first place.

Brent Nycz, Asst. Sports Editor

In terms of boycotting the Beijing Olympics, it would be difficult for me to participate in a boycott when I know my country won’t take any action. If I spent a long period in my life to become the best badminton player in all the land, I would be hard-pressed to boycott my ability to showcase my incredible badminton skills.

Paul Giovanniello, Staff Writer

Athletes train their entire lives to compete in these games. You never know where these games are going to be held by the time you’re eligible to compete in them. It’s not the athletes’ responsibility to boycott the games. Their responsibility is to compete.

Carl Setterlund, Staff Writer

I think I would boycott, but the catch is that I would have worked tirelessly for this chance at glory; the 15 minutes of publicity I create might not be worth all the wasted hours of work. At the same time, I’ve always been one of those people who thinks if you believe in something, stand up for it, no matter the consequences.

Rob Whitbeck, Staff Writer

Important issues such as China’s actions in Tibet cannot be overlooked during the coverage of the Olympic Games because of the world stage on which the Games are set.  China’s actions in Tibet have been ongoing for years.  If the International Olympic Committee wanted to avoid the issue, they should not have awarded the games to China in the first place.

Rob Kelly, Staff Writer

I’d have to say that I would boycott across the board. Such obvious human rights violations are completely reprehensible, and that message needs to be heard loud
and clear.

Rob Beatson, Asst. Sports Editor

China’s human rights violations have gone unchecked through inaction for years. The U.S. and the rest of the world needs to actually take strides to force change, not hide behind an empty gesture. Boycotting the Olympics would be nothing more than a petty middle finger to a government that doesn’t care what the world thinks anyway.