Amidst the recent commotion surrounding silencing athletes’ political views at the summer Olympics, I thought it might be fun to read the Olympic Charter. This is what I came across on page 11 of the Charter.
Fundamental Principles of Olympism
- Olympism is a philosophy of life…Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
- The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
- Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.
These are grand words and ideals, but will they ever be a reality? Is there (gasp!) hypocrisy in the Olympic movement? (At this point you may also wish to conveniently forget about any bribery scandal involving a previous Olympics games. But I digress.)
Beating athletes repeatedly over the head with the most readily accessible blunt instrument (see Rule 51 section 3) so they don’t take matters into their own hands is currently fashionable and I get the point. They are there to compete, and from a completely selfish perspective, being apolitical probably makes an athlete more marketable if and when endorsements and sponsors come calling.
However, if the spirit and principles of the Olympics are being violated by the host nation, should any action be taken? Is this a mandate of the IOC or the nations participating? Is this the venue for the IOC to promote “…a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”? Or are these just hollow words getting in the way of China’s coming out party as an economic powerhouse?
China and the IOC want to put on an extravaganza for the entire world to see. What they don’t want anyone to notice is the darker side of the new kid on the superpower block. (My mother, who is a Chinese immigrant, still remembers the village executions she had to watch as an eight year old when the Communists were eliminating anyone with wealth or education back in the 1950’s.)
To China, whose government wants to showcase its progress on the worldwide stage called the Olympics, you had to be incredibly naïve not to realize that your country would be under the intense public scrutiny that accompanies an Olympics. If you decide to play on the world’s biggest stage again, here’s an old adage: “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen!”
To the IOC, whose flowery prose proclaims it a moral authority on respecting “universal fundamental ethical principles,” deeds speak louder than words, and without deeds to back up words, you risk becoming irrelevant, hypocritical and ideologically bankrupt. Remember- you picked China, and you didn’t have to.
There are no simple solutions to letting China know its human rights abuses are not tolerable. The Olympics may or may not be a suitable venue to air these concerns. Only time will tell if any action will be taken.