Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Olympic Torch

I have very mixed views on the protests surrounding the Olympic torch relay through London today.

China is undoubtedly guilty of mass human rights abuses, some of which - including the silencing of protests on Tibet and the treatment of construction workers - have been exacerbated rather than eased by the Olympics being awarded to Beijing.

It's quite obvious that the IOC should never have awarded the Olympics to China in the first place.

Having said that - I feel very uneasy about the protests that are taking place today. I believe firmly that the Olympic ideal can and does exist. I always cry at the opening ceremony especially when all the athletes come in and the torch is lit. There are thousands of competitors from across the world who have been working for years to achieve their goals, and more importantly there are thousands of young people who want to look ahead to London 2012. By attacking the torch and trying to douse it no damage is being done to China - only to the participants and viewers of the Olympics. By refusing to attend the opening ceremony Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are showing a huge lack of respect for those representing their own nations.

I'm also quite concerned about the police presence for what was - in essence - a publicity stunt for a foreign nation and sponsors of the Olympics. I would love to see that many police on the street catching muggers. Miraculously all the paperwork that normally keeps the cops busy was missing today and they were free to rugby tackle demonstrators. Always a good show.

Like I say - I'm a huge fan of the Olympics so to see it brought into disrepute the way it has been today is a sad event. I hope that Tessa Jowell and Gordon Brown took the opportunity to strongly condemn his it government's behaviour to the Chinese Ambassadoe - but I very much doubt.

For a great piece defending the protests go to today's Sunday Times.

No comments: