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Swedish, Nature conservation freak, Passionate about Africa, Loving Peace, Politically neutral

Friday, 8 August 2008

Are Olympic athletes cowards?

The Olympics in Beijing are about to start, and there have been talks of a boycott or demonstration or something to show the world’s distancing from China’s “internal affairs”. A total boycott of the games, by the athletes, seems quite implausible at this late hour, but I have some suggestions for the individual athlete what he/she can do to show real support for human rights.

  • Marathon: the runners refuse to cross the finishing line
  • Horse jumping: the riders decide to the pick some flowers at the last fence, instead of clearing it (the flower will then be handed over to a member of the Chinese ruling party)
  • Sailing: the participants sail home to their countries
  • Tennis: the players commit double-fault after double fault after double-fault (foot fault might also be ok)
  • Boxing: the boxers refuse to box
  • Soccer: the players engage in a game off rugby, and all are sent of due to hand balling
  • Chess: all games end in ties (although this event may not occur in the Beijing Olympics)

I know that I’m hoping for much. Getting a total support to above-mentioned action by all athletes is probably not going to happen. Many of the participants in the Olympics games have planed and practised for this their whole life. But maybe the medallist could refuse to accept the medals? Wouldn’t that be a clear marking against human right abuse? It would be even better if the clear leader of, say, a long distance race sat down just before the finishing line, sacrificing his/her gold medal in order to make a statement.

Unfortunately I think athletes are not brave enough to do something like this. For them gold is more important than human rights. But maybe, just maybe, we will see some athletes stand above themselves in these Olympic games, and make a difference.

Update: I applaud the Swedish wrestler Ara Abrahamian’s courage to protest during the price ceremony today. Too bad that his act was sprung out of his disappointment of not winning gold.

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Anonymous said...

So, what sacrifices are you making to support human rights, other than blogging on the internet?

Anton said...

Argh... you are clueless on so many levels...

Geoffrey Goines said...


I have scarified lots in my life to work for things I believe in.


Really? What levels?

Mr. olympia said...

Don't mix sports and politics! it is what it is! I think you're a coward for not going there yourself since you feel so strongly about china's internal affairs. why don't you do something yourself and stop telling others what to do, think or feel!

Per Nordin said...

And what do you actually understand and know about the reality of China today?
I am Swede, born of Swedish parents and raised in Sweden and USA. But I have actually been to China and seen the reality and have several "Minority" friends there.
Also I have understood that that Chinese leaders today are striving towards democracy, but understand that this is a process that needs to take time after 4000 years of cultural conditioning.
China today is _NOT_ Mao's China.
Maybe you need to take a trip there and learn a little about reality.

Anton said...

"per nordin" is making very good points. China is changing as fast as a country that size possibly can.

I don't know which human rights issues you would like them to protest against, but protesting by boycotting the Olympics will

(1) give the Chinese government the indication that all the progress and opening up that has taken place during the last 30 years is meaningless.

(2) make them suspicious and slow down the cooperation, opening up and the dialogue with the rest of the world, and in turn slow the human rights progress that actually is taking place.

Most importantly
(3) give the Chinese the impression that the westerners hate them. I live in China, I talk to people. After the protests that followed the Olympic flame they are sad/angry and wondering why westerners hate China so much. This in turn makes them more nationalistic, which is dangerous. Furthermore after a long time of western occupation and aggression against China, and now the screaming and complaining about China by the west doesn't make much sense to them (or me).

Know that the Olympics is something the people here are very proud of and happy about. This is not something that is directed by the government. They see it as their chance to show the world all the progress that's been made, to invite other peoples into their homes. But westerners only shut the door in their face. We can only complain, like we've been any better...

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

what makes you think i am not doing anything myself...?

>per nordin

I have interacted with Chinese people and I have expereince of communsit countries (although not China), so my picture of the country is not completely unrealistic.
However, I am trying to bring focus to the fact that an athlete, who is feed with the western media picture of China, still values gold higher than the alleged Chinese human rights abuses.


I am actually not talking about "governmental-led" boycotts, but instead individual protest by athletes (who, as i mentioned in the above comment, are feed with a pic of China as a opressionist country).
It is just interesting that an athlete (ie an athlete from "West") choses gold before making a stand.

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Anonymous said...

* Hugging a tree in a Beijing park.

Don said...


May I suggest a link related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games?

Our site:

Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


Mr. Olympia said...

"However, I am trying to bring focus to the fact that an athlete, who is feed with the western media picture of China, still values gold higher than the alleged Chinese human rights abuses"

That's an unwarranted and unfair claim! You are blaming the wrong people. These are just athletes participating in a sportsevent. They have no duty whatsoever to fight your cause or to be politically involved in the whole thing. You seem a littlebit angry because they won't do as you tell them to do? I also think it's unfair of you to put up the construction "human rights versus the olympics" and put the athletes in a bad spotlight by claiming they value gold more than human rights. This may be an effective retorical method but it doesnt make you right. in fact it's a logical fallacy but that's a different story. The point is you seem to try and discredit these people simply because they don't have the same agenda as you.
If you want to fight for human rights leave athletes out of the equation.


This is sports. Sports are politically neutral .It has to be that way.

I think we can achieve alot more by competing with them, in their cities, on their land and become friends. Remember China has come a long way in the last 10 years. They have still far to go, but Rome isnt built in one day. I think a boycott would have harmed more than it would have helped.

And remember.. there have been A LOT of protesting against the whole Tibet issue BECAUSE OF the Olympics. Without it.. no one would have known.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

I am merly observing the situation, where the athletes are finding their gold medal as the most important thing in their lives.
I just find it strange that no athlete have protested against the alleged human rights abuse in China, in a more obvious/dramatic way.


Yes, sport should be politically neutral, but that is never the case in reality, so I am wondering why no athlete have taken advantage of the opportunity to make a real change.

mr.olympia said...

G.goines wrote
"I am merly observing the situation, where the athletes are finding their gold medal as the most important thing in their lives"

I'd say this is a fairly rethorical "mere observation" when it's put up against human rights violations within the same sentence. You're observing that athletes value their gold medal but to say they value them more than they value human rights is unfair and far beyond a mere observation ,it's a wrongful assumption, more specifically it's a rethorical (but fallacious)argument/accusation based on false premises.

Why are you not blogging about the situation in Georgia?? Don't answer! I already know, it's because you value Chineese people more.

Do you see the why this argument is wrong?

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

But i have blogged about Georgia...

Mr.olympia said...

So you suddenly value georgians more than chineese now?? Just kidding.. It was just an example of a fallacious argument

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

well, to some extent you are correct. i dont highlight the situation in China enough...

But to be serious, it would have been refreshing to see at least some athletes actually sacrificing their medals for a higher cause.

Mr.olympia said...

"it would have been refreshing to see at least some athletes actually sacrificing their medals for a higher cause"

And what exactly would this achieve?
In my opinion it would be as effective in stopping human rights violations in China as a medium-sized leaflet campaign about the horrors of islam would be at stopping international terrorism!

Do you think someone who have no problems with systematically violating human rights would pay attention to a couple of athletes "sacrificing" their medals?

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

I would think this would achieve as much as the Black-power demonstration in the olympics of 1968.

Mr.olympia said...

And what exactly did that protest achieve apart from getting the athletes involved expelled from the olympics? Also, In order for this incident to be analogous it would have to be chineese athletes that made some form of statement.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

i dont know how much experience you got from fighting injustice/oppression in your life. I cant say I am an expert in that field, but the little personal experience I got makes me believe that one should not under estimate the symbolic value in certain actions.

I know for example that the Black power demonstration in the Mexico Olympics inspired Steve Biko in his fight against apartheid in South Africa. And most people today agree that Biko's contribution to the fall of apartheid was significant.

Mr.olympia said...

a looong shot, but maybe your right, however, your attempt to make others (athletes) look bad in order to promote your own agenda is what ticked me off here. The 1968 Black power demsonstration was an act of free will from individuals that were directly and personally involved in the cause they were demonstrating for.The ehole point here is that athletes competing in china will do something if they think it's the right thing to do, if they don't do anything it does'nt mean they're bad people that don't care about human rights, but that's the picture your painting and that's what pisses me off a bit because it's a false accusation!

Geoffrey Goines said...

>mr olympia

Perhaps a long shot, but I have seen symbolic actions having effect in practise.

"It's not the violence of the few that scares me, it's the silence of the many"
Martin Luther King