Volume 94, Issue 53

Friday, December 1, 2000


Editorial Board 2000-2001

An international dilemma

Editorial Cartoon

An international dilemma

When the modern Olympiad was first held, their spirit sought to bring various nations that might otherwise be conflicted into a realm of sportsmanship and friendly competition. Every Olympics since then has strived to do the same.

Now, in the wake of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, a heated debate has been sparked which directly calls into question the games' ability to unite nations through sport.

When a British parliamentary report was issued yesterday slamming the Chinese government for putting forth a bid to host the 2008 Olympic games despite egregious human rights violations, the Olympic bid committee was immediately faced with a serious dilemma.

It is true that China has committed grave atrocities that have been internationally condemned, such as 1989's Tiananmen Square Massacre and the occupation of Tibet, along with countless political imprisonments and alleged fear-mongering amongst its populace. Now, the body that must choose the host city for the next Olympic games will have have to face the possibility of political pressure not to choose Beijing when they come to their decision, solely because of this record.

The committee, which should hypothetically be making its decision unfettered by political pressure from other countries and delegates, must now contend with the issue of China's human rights record weighing in on its ultimate decision.

Beijing, China is reportedly the leader in the pack amongst the peleton of host candidates. Support from the Chinese government for an event such as this would be endless; state-of-the-art facilities would undoubtedly be created if not already in place, as the Chinese would see the opportunity to play host as a chance to extend a friendly hand to the rest of the world.

As well, granting the games to China could very well be seen as an act promoting tolerance and goodwill that would hold them to higher human rights standards than those which they have allowed in the past.

If, however, the human rights violations were the deciding factor in the bid committee's decision not to give China the games, this could be viewed by the Chinese as a punitive measure which goes against the direct spirit of the Olympics.

In the past, the bid committee has mired itself in scandal over illicit donations intended to persuade the decision making process, but this new development could inadvertently spill an entire new bottle of black ink onto the IOC's reputation for making its host choices.

It is clear that with this upcoming decision, the IOC has the power to unite nations or widen the schism between China and the rest of the world. What's left to be seen is whether the Olympic games will ever be freed from their political shackles.

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