I have a confession to make.
I like the Olympics, at least, I like some aspects of the competition.
The outright commercialism, the cover-ups, the political spin and rhetoric I don’t much care for, but the actual competition itself, the fact that such a large portion of the world’s population is both represented and interested, I find truly magical.
I’ve followed the Olympics since I was a kid and it has been a source of some truly wonderful memories.
Sadly, now some truly awful ones as well.
I can’t remember another Olympics where a totalitarian regime has played such a central role.
The sight of the Olympic flag being handed over to goose-stepping military personnel during the opening ceremony made me cringe.
Perhaps it was more symbolic than a lot of people realised.
Even the Olympic motto “one world, one dream” smacks of “Ein reich, ein volk, ein Deutchland”
Before the games even commenced we have seen international media’s Internet access censored, the establishment of no-go-zones around the finish line of the men’s cycling road race so dozing communist party officials could take the seats of friends and relatives, many of whom had travelled halfway around the world to be there, the brutal murder of an American tourist associated with the men’s volleyball team, the unabashed hatred vented at peaceful pro-Tibetan Independence protesters in Tianamen Square just to name a few.
We aren’t even a week into the games.
I think there is a lesson for the IOC here, no matter how flashy the promises of a bidding nation, if they can’t treat their own citizens respectfully, what possible hope does the broader international community have to be treated well?
There may be an argument to keep sports above politics, but human rights?
It’s a dark time for the Olympic movement.