Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Olympic Boycott Over Burma?

My first post on the crackdown in Myanmar has rolled off the front page and this is big enough that it deserves its own post.

I got this in an email from the people over at Pressure the Chinese government to compel the Burmese generals to stop killing and oppressing the Burmese people? In this blog they call for a boycott of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Here is the blog in full:

Some may say politics and sports should be kept separate. Does anybody believe the Chinese leaders are that (i think that's meant to be "that are" - ExJane) interested in Marathons, 100 m? It’s about politics, and about Chinese prestige. Any political or sports leader suggesting the opposite is either ignorant, or worse.

Chinese support to ‘political stability’ in Burma, means support to the Burmese military. It means providing arms to the Burmese generals?

Against what enemy? Thailand? Laos? China itself? (Burma has no external enemies. The Chinese arms allow for Chinese exploitation of Burma’s natural resources. It benefits greedy Burmese generals and Chinese business while enslaving the Burmese people.

The Chinese government will hardly listen to UN Security Council talk. They veto instead. But they don’t want to lose face. They don’t want to risk the Olympic Games. That is their weakness. So why not use this weakness, to help the Burmese! Persuade sportsmen, Olympians, their leaders, to speak out, to threaten to boycott the games unless China stops sending arms to the generals and uses its influence in Burma, to force the generals to stop killing people, to move to democracy and an economic growth that benefits all the people, not just the generals and their children.

Today the diverse Burmese opposition actually may have a chance to cooperate, the monks and students and the minority peoples, the Shan and Karen, who have for decades fought for their rights and therefore have been persecuted and murdered by the Burmese military. They could join forces if they were able to communicate, via mobiles, Internet. ICT may again prove to be one of the poor and unfree men’s best help. Let’s hope it will.

But the rest of the world should also go on to use the power of ICT, talk to, email, tell politicians, sportsmen, Olympians, their leaders. Tell them to threaten the success of the upcoming Olympic games in China.
I've posted it on a couple of groups on Facebook following the events in Burma and I'll just paste here what I wrote there.

From blog. A call to press countries to boycott the 2008 Olympics. It's worked in the past, why not this time? At least it will send a very STRONG and economically devastating message. China is prepping like gangbusters right now. They building tons of new buildings, expanding the infrastructure, meddling with the rainfall, etc. If the world says they're not coming to the party that would be huge.

Sports diplomacy has happened in the past and it's effective. It can be used in both a positive since by bringing atheletes and nations together but also in a negative sense which people are pushing for now. Clearly, a boycott is in the negative, but when the stakes are high it can work. Plus, let's not forget the Darfur region of Sudan. That's a thorny issue too. However, maybe the combination of Darfur and Burma can get the momentum going on this idea. It usually takes more than merely boycotting Olympic games, but combined with other efforts, sports diplomacy can be very effective.

For those who don't remember or don't know, I've found a couple of links on sports diplomacy. I'd never really thought of it, but my classmate wrote her master's thesis on sports diplomacy last term. She talked about some of the ideas she had and I gave her some research suggestions. To see people calling for it in this situation is great, because it could definitely make an impact.

Here are some articles:

Washington Post - Countdown to Beijing by Victor Cha

CNN Cold War: Spotlight: Olympic Boycotts

If you run a search on Google for "olympic-boycott, china, burma" you get a page full of results and I've not read them all, so here is that search link: "olympic-boycott, china, burma".

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