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Bernard M -- Taipei English Tutor

Bernard M - English Conversation / TOEFL / IELTS 一對一英文會話

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Don't boycott the Olympics - end them permanently

What's the point of the Olympics? If it is to improve relations between countries it has been an abysmal failure. The Olympics have all too easily becomes a point of political contention between nations, as exemplified by the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the 1980 Moscow Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (see below). This shouldn't be surprising-if you divide athletes into competing teams based on nationality, you are bound to incite nationalist sentiments among athletes, spectators, and most of all, host nations. The faulty logic behind the Olympics as a harmonizing force between nations is revealed when we consider whether the same logic can be applied to sporting events based on other divisions among people. Is it even remotely conceivable that competition based on black, white, and Asian sports teams would be good for race relations? Or better yet, how about advocating an Olympics pitting heterosexuals against homosexuals as a way of fighting homophobia? These suggestions are just as ridiculous as all the cliches about the benefits of competition between Olympic teams based on nationality.

International sports competitions are a great idea, but they should be organized along non-nationalist lines. Teams can be sponsored by private sports organizations or companies, as is the case in many sports leagues today. The cooperation between the potentially diverse members of such teams would replace the ethnic and nationalist divisiveness of the current Olympic system. If this were done, the distractions of nationalist politics could be replaced by a focus on the drama of actual sports competition.

1936 Berlin Olympics FROM Infoplease

In Berlin, dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi followers felt sure that the Olympics would be the ideal venue to demonstrate Germany's oft-stated racial superiority. He directed that $25 million be spent on the finest facilities, the cleanest streets and the temporary withdrawal of all outward signs of the state-run anti-Jewish campaign. By the time over 4,000 athletes from 49 countries arrived for the Games, the stage was set.

1976 Montreal Olympics FROM Infoplease
. . .right before the Games were scheduled to open in July, 32 nations, most of them from black Africa, walked out when the IOC refused to ban New Zealand because its national rugby team was touring racially segregated South Africa. Taiwan also withdrew when Communist China pressured trading partner Canada to deny the Taiwanese the right to compete as the Republic of China.

1980 Moscow Olympics FROM Wikepedia
Though the Games have aimed to be an arena free of politics, the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan spurred United States President Jimmy Carter to issue an ultimatum that the United States would boycott the Moscow Olympics if Soviet troops had not withdrawn from the country by 12:01 A.M. Eastern Standard Time on February 20, 1980; the official announcement confirming the boycott was made on March 21.

The United States was joined in the boycott by some other populous countries - including Japan, West Germany, China and Canada. Some of these countries competed at the Olympic Boycott Games at Philadelphia. Notably, the United Kingdom, France, and Greece supported the boycott but allowed their athletes to participate if they wished (the U.S. did not). The United Kingdom and France sent a much smaller delegation of athletes than usual. Nevertheless, the delegation of the United Kingdom was the largest among Western Europe, with 170 athletes applying to compete.[1] Spain, Italy, Sweden, Iceland and Finland were other principal nations representing western Europe,[1] though Italian athletes belonging to military corps did not attend the Games, due to the government's support of the boycott. The boycott severely affected many events.

. . . Altogether, the athletes of 16 countries were not represented by their national flags, and the Olympic Anthem replaced their national anthems at medal ceremonies. As a result, there were a few ceremonies where three Olympic Flags were raised.

1984 Los Angeles Olympics FROM BBC
Twelve weeks before the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympic Games, the USSR has announced it is boycotting them. It is expected most of the Eastern Bloc will follow suit.

The announcement, which was made on Russian TV this afternoon, blamed the commercialisation of the games and a lack of security measures, which amounted to a violation of the Olympic charter.

The Soviet Union accused the United States of using the games "for political purposes" and "stirring up anti-Soviet propaganda" and of having a "cavalier attitude to security of Russian athletes".

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