Boycott the Beijing Olympics?

At this moment, a boycott of the Beijing Olympics would seem pretty unlikely. It took a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for the U.S. and other countries to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics. (The Soviets repaid the favor in 1984, staying home from the Los Angeles games.)

On the other hand, a lot of people around the world harbor feelings of discomfort toward the newly muscular China. An interesting article by Howard Beck in today’s New York Times tells of Cleveland Cavaliers’ reserve Ira Newble, who read an article in USA Today about the violence and death in Darfur and decided to take action:

The result is a letter, signed by Newble and most of his teammates and released last week, that takes aim at China, which supplies the Sudanese government with money and weapons. China, in turn, is a major importer of Sudan’s oil.The letter reads in part, “We, as basketball players in the N.B.A. and as potential athletes in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, cannot look on with indifference to the massive human suffering and destruction that continue in the Darfur region of Sudan.” It concludes with a plea to the Chinese government “to use all available diplomatic resources and economic pressure to end the agony of Darfur, and to secure access for U.N. peace support personnel.”

I am guessing that Newble, who averages 3 points a game, isn’t even a candidate for the U.S. Olympic basketball team. And the letter of protest wasn’t signed by Newble’s famous Cavs teammate LeBron James — who, along with the N.B.A. itself, has business interests in China. (That’s why, if you remember, James is studying Mandarin.)

Still, the Beijing Olympics are more than a year away, which is a long, long time. (Just ask Obama/ Romney/ Clinton/ Giuliani/ Edwards/ McCain et al). There is a lot of anti-China noise in a lot of quarters, and if Newble’s earnest protest somehow catches fire among some N.B.A. players who do have the juice with the U.S. basketball team, then anything might happen.

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  1. amit says:

    That’s the big dirty about China. Despite being embaced by the west it is still a totalitarian state that doesn’t tolerate dissenters.

    VBS.TV has a very interesting set of segments about Sudan and the Chinese involvement there :

    http://www.vbs.tv/shows/index.php?show=Inside%20Sudan

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  2. amit says:

    That’s the big dirty about China. Despite being embaced by the west it is still a totalitarian state that doesn’t tolerate dissenters.

    VBS.TV has a very interesting set of segments about Sudan and the Chinese involvement there :

    http://www.vbs.tv/shows/index.php?show=Inside%20Sudan

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. furiousball says:

    Did the 1980 and 94 boycotts do anything besides make some competitions less competitive? I don’t see what sports has to do with politics. This isn’t the view of a sports fan, IMHO, the Olympics (save ice hockey) are the most boring thing ever aired on TV, but in reality what did the US gain or accomplish from the boycott, was there any effect at all on the former USSR’s stance in Afganistan? Did their boycott in 1984 do anything either besides save some airfare for their crumbling economy.

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  4. furiousball says:

    Did the 1980 and 94 boycotts do anything besides make some competitions less competitive? I don’t see what sports has to do with politics. This isn’t the view of a sports fan, IMHO, the Olympics (save ice hockey) are the most boring thing ever aired on TV, but in reality what did the US gain or accomplish from the boycott, was there any effect at all on the former USSR’s stance in Afganistan? Did their boycott in 1984 do anything either besides save some airfare for their crumbling economy.

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  5. frankenduf says:

    I’m with furiousball- the olympics are intentionally independent of politics- no offense to Mr. Newble, but if the criteria is not to host the olympics wherever weapons are sold, we would have to have them on Mars

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  6. frankenduf says:

    I’m with furiousball- the olympics are intentionally independent of politics- no offense to Mr. Newble, but if the criteria is not to host the olympics wherever weapons are sold, we would have to have them on Mars

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  7. chappy8 says:

    The Olympics free of politics? The very selection of a host city involves lobbying and bribing of international federations and often use of public funds to build infrastructure. Sounds like politics to me…

    Also, check out http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/faq2.html
    The earliest Olympic games were often proceeded by an international truce among the Greeks. Also, sounds like politics to me…

    Now that said, I agree that there is really nothing to be gained by a boycott.

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  8. chappy8 says:

    The Olympics free of politics? The very selection of a host city involves lobbying and bribing of international federations and often use of public funds to build infrastructure. Sounds like politics to me…

    Also, check out http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/faq2.html
    The earliest Olympic games were often proceeded by an international truce among the Greeks. Also, sounds like politics to me…

    Now that said, I agree that there is really nothing to be gained by a boycott.

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