Olympic irony

2008-08-01 00:00

When the Beijing Olympic Games open next week, there will be speeches about international peace and fellowship in sport. Yet the stage for this event is a largely unreformed communist state whose human rights record, highlighted this week by Amnesty International (AI), is one of the world’s poorest.

The awarding of the games was accompanied by an expectation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that this gesture of acceptance would persuade China to lift restrictions on basic freedoms. Indeed, China promised to uphold principles of human dignity in keeping with the Olympic Charter. But, according to AI, the situation has deteriorated and the Chinese government, true to form, has cracked down on dissident voices.

That of Hu Jia has been silenced by three years in prison. He was convicted for participating in a European Union parliamentary hearing and talking to the foreign media. His wife is now under close surveillance. Journalists have been imprisoned for attempting to exercise normal media rights, while this year’s protest in Tibet and earthquake in Sichuan have revealed widespread censorship.

Even worse has been the treatment of residents who protested against evictions related to stadium development. They have been held in secret detention centres and labour camps that have no basis in Chinese law and there is evidence of torture. Furthermore, a high proportion of the world’s capital punishment cases are found in China, which also denies basic freedoms of information and religion.

The IOC’s silence sends a clear message: it is acceptable to hold the games in a highly developed police state routinely practising repression and persecution. In spite of professed concern about human rights, the commercial objectives that now underlie all international sport have clearly triumphed. This emphasises the point that events like the Olympics are simply the sports department of globalisation.

Some heads of state — those of Germany and Canada — are boycotting the games, while the British prime minister is attending only the closing ceremony. The exact legacy of the Beijing Olympics remains to be seen. It can only be positive if cases like that of political prisoner Hu Jia gain greater publicity.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.