Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics

Recently, there seems to surfaced petitions and the likes from people who think China should not be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, based on China's poor record in human rights. Tibet is the thing they all mention. Okay, fair enough, I agree about the human rights thing and Tibet. I don't see why the Dalai Lama should be seen as a threat to the government, because he's all about peace and enlightenment.

Anyway.

What puzzles me is why people are starting to protest now, when the fact that Beijing would be host was made public on 13 July 2001 - and that was seven years ago. Amnesty International raised their concerns in 2006 according to Wikipedia. Before the IOC decide who is going to host the olympics, the candidates are known to the public. Where were the protestors back then? Surely, protesting four months in advance isn't going to stop the event from happening, or move it to another country. Why wasn't there petitions circulating as soon as China announced they wanted to compete for the 2008 summer olympics? If it had happened back then, the IOC could've decided to give another country the event instead, if they had known people would be so upset about China as a host. Had Iraq been trying to get the olympics, you can be pretty sure they would've been out of consideration straight away.

It's as if people have gone "cool, I like Chinese food" and then recently, when Tibet is back in the spotlight, people have thought "hang on... that's not very good, they shouldn't host the olympics". Come on! It's not as if Tibet is a new thing! It's been going on for donkey's years - and yes, I do mean well before 2001. The Dalai Lama has been in exile since 1959... Not just Tibet, for that matter - remember the Falun Gong movement? How about the Tianamen Square Massacre of 1989? Another two of many things China has become infamous for. After all, there's a lot more to China than sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice.

The only real protest that can be done now is for countries who are critical of how China views human rights is to not send any athletes to compete. Britain wouldn't refuse to send any athletes because it would be politically incorrect to do so, of course, but other nations. If a bunch of countries stood up and said "we're not participating in the 2008 summer olympics because we don't agree with how you treat your people", surely that would send a much clearer message to China than a bunch of people on the Internet passing on various petitions saying "Down with this sort of thing"?

Some people are saying we should boycott the olympics by spectators not going. Sure thing! Although, I wouldn't go anyway, so that doesn't seem like much of a statement. I wouldn't go to see the olympics at all, no matter where it was, as I normally don't even sit down to watch it on TV. Going to the other side of the world... Sure, that would be fun to do some day... but that would be as a holiday, not to see a sporting event. Heck, I don't even travel to see a concert! Maybe a few people do wish to travel to the other side of the globe to see the olympics, but they are pretty few and far between, aren't they? Or are people really that devoted? (If so, when did sport become a religion??)

My memory isn't the greatest, so maybe I'm totally wrong. Maybe people petitioned and protested a lot back in 2001 and even before that, to try and stop Beijing from hosting the olympics this year. I don't really know, as I have never really cared enough about the olympics to pay attention.

Lastly, speaking of the Dalai Lama... I find it quite amusing how most people from all walks of life and faith would only have good things to say about him and his teachings. Yet at the same time, a lot of them would scoff and sneer at a person who believes in reincarnation. Have they completely missed the point that the whole thing about the Dalai Lama is that he is (or, "supposed to be", if you prefer) a reincarnation of a Buddhist master. He is believed to be a bodhisattva, meaning a person who is so spiritually enlightened that he or she can enter Nirvana when they die, but who chose not to. Instead, they choose to be reborn into this world of suffering in order to help mankind... sort of thing. Maybe people just don't know. But if they do know, what's the difference between a Tibetan saying he's a reincarnation of a Buddhist Master and your next-door neighbour saying she remembers a past life? One is normally held in high regard, the other one normally dismissed as a lunatic. Where's the sense in that?

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