To the Editor:
I would like to respond to Robert Li’s column “Boycotting Olympics vitiates global harmony,” (4/10). While I believe that Li is correct in suggesting that a boycott of the Olympics opening ceremony will likely be an ineffective method of solving the problems and tensions between China and the rest of the world, his argument that the Olympics are merely “a sporting gala” and therefore should be free from the burden of politics demonstrates a significant misunderstanding of what the modern Olympics represents in the global community.
Hosting the Olympics implies more than laying down the groundwork for the over 300 events that will take place during the Games; it is an honor that nations vie for every four years to showcase what is admirable and outstanding about the host country. In agreeing to host the Olympics, the home country opens its doors to the spotlights of the international arena and invites the world to revel in the celebration of “a peaceful and better world [that] can be built through the help of sport practiced without discrimination of any kind.”
However, and this is what Li and the rest of the Beijing organizers have missed, spotlights highlight both virtues and imperfections
For Beijing to host the Olympics and express its desire to showcase China’s economic rise, its rapid development and its modern feel to the world, while trying to hide its crackdown in Tibet, its support of the Sudanese government and its lack of laudable democratic institutions from global scrutiny smacks of a double standard.
No country has a skeleton-free closet; however, to demand a free pass for all of its problems while reaping the benefits of Olympic glory is a game that Beijing should not and cannot play with the world.
Beijing must take responsibility for its actions and commit to working toward a solution rather than demanding that the world ignores what it sees as the Olympics approach.
I do not believe that merely bringing attention to these issues facing us through the Olympics will solve any problems; concrete solutions must be developed through political forums, some of which Li has outlined in his article.
However, Li, and every other individual who contends that China’s political business ought to remain separate from its hosting of the Olympics, must see the double standard that they are perpetuating through such a claim.
Instead of boycotting the Olympics, Sarkozy, Merkel and every other major international leader should walk into Beijing, support their athletes and let China know: We have our eye on you now.
You wanted the international spotlight, China? You got it. And all of the trappings that come with it.
The writer is a senior in Silliman College.