Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tyrants and the Olympics

Yesterday I complained about an article on the Beijing Olympics, allegedly written by Ming Campbell. At one point it says:
I for one welcomed the news that China would host the games precisely because I hoped and believed that this, among other influences, could lead to an opening up, a strengthening and modernising of this great nation. It still can.
What is the basis for this hope or belief? Berlin 1936 certainly did nothing to mellow Nazi Germany. Nor have I ever heard it suggested that hosting the 1980 Olympics played any part in the collapse of the Soviet regime a few years later.

It seems more credible to believe the precise opposite. The ceremonial aspect of the Olympics, with their pageants, marching bands and children in uniform, appeals to all the worst instincts of a tyrannical regime.

In fact I recently saw a documentary which argued that our expectation that the Olympics will have elaborate opening and closing ceremonies stems from the Nazi pageantry which accompanied the Berlin Games.


vanfuertes said...

A fair point, I agree that I don't think there will be any immediate political upheaval in the aftermath of the games.
However, neither do I take the view that the Olympics in Beijing will mean indirectly supporting the human rights abuses that undoubtedly have occurred, or strengthening the anti-democracy cause.
In truth, the biggest effect we're likely to see in China would be an overall sense of pride if the games (which hopefully they do) go well. A mildly positive outcome is surely palatable enough?

Toby Philpott said...

The point of the Olympics was surely to act as a unifier of humankind in the name of sport. Unfortuntely the Chinese Communist Party will use the games for propaganda purposes and to stoke agressive nationalist sentiment.

I'm planning to post on some of these issues in the next few days.

chris said...

Its a same there is no Tibetian Jesse Owens.