Olympian Ideals

Published on 28/7/2008

Many of us love the Olympic games, what it stands for and the sheer pleasure of seeing excellence, hard work and talent rewarded in an orgy of competition.

This year, in less than two weeks, the Beijing Olympics will take place in China. We should be anticipating these games with uninhibited pleasure. But this is not the case.

There are fears for the people in Tibet, who the Chinese government has ruthlessly repressed, and their way of dealing with this is to try and make it disappear from the world’s consciousness.

We should remember all the rural Chinese who have had to internally emigrate to the urban areas of the country to be able to make a living, and other citizens of China, who are unable to protect their homes and liberty, who have had their homes bulldozed in the name of progress while giant stadiums and other buildings have been built where they used to have their homes.

And then there are the Falun Gong which is a mind-body movement related to Buddhism and qigong, with ethic and millenarian aspects. It is sometimes described as a religion, spirituality or a metaphysical system. The Chinese government suggests there are 70 million practitioners in China. The Chinese authorities banned and initiated a crackdown on Falun Gong in 1999 and their pressure on it is unrelenting.

There are further examples of China’s ambivalence regarding the freedoms that the Olympic ideals represent but whether or not you feel these are important we should not avert our eyes.

Time and again the world is faced with the anomaly of this burgeoning economic super power, which is much to be admired set against the cruelty of their regime. The regime is full of contradictions that don’t sit comfortably with our Western democratic principles. Those who have dealt with the Peoples Republic of China will tell you that casual fudges on the issues of semi-official corruption grease the bureaucracy. This is almost bound to happen when all the reins of power are held either by the Communist Party or the army.

The country of China is turning its most charming face to the world for the next few weeks, but this pretense cannot disguise the fact that their regime is a ruthless, power hungry dictatorship that will stop at nothing to achieve its strategic goals.

How should we react to this? Personally I admit to huge anticipation, I can’t wait until the games begin. I know it will be an amazing spectacle that will be wonderfully well organized and a tremendous achievement for China. It will tend to the regimented but be colored by the artistic, and hard work ethic of this wonderfully industrious nation.

While we enjoy it let’s not forget all the people in China who won’t, because they can’t, because they’re locked up, or under curfew, or have already been killed.