Profiting from Olympic Protests

Posted by: Diane Brady on April 8, 2008

For many people, the Olympic torch relay tends to be a yawner. Not this year. Protesters in London, Paris and San Francisco are helping to turn this year’s 85,000-mile PR blitz into the world’s longest exercise in crisis management (assuming it’s not cut short, as officials now threaten).

The main thrust of the protest is, of course, China’s suppression of dissent in Tibet but anger over its domestic labor practices and supply of arms to forces in Darfur is also getting a nod.

While the Beijing Olympics may be notable for spawning a broader and more intense public reaction than usual, the games have long been a focal point for protests—whether through boycotts (as in the Los Angeles and Moscow games) or terrorist activity (Munich and Atlanta).

I wonder if the attention might turn out to be a boon for companies associated with the games. Nobody wants to have their banner flying in the background, obviously, as police pummel protesters. But I think that’s an unlikely scenario once the Olympics actually take place. Chinese officials may not be able to control who gets onto the streets of Paris, but they have a knack for keeping a lid on tensions in Beijing.

Instead, the political tensions surrounding the games may prompt more people to tune into the Olympics this year. Toronto, which also bid for the 2008 games, simply doesn’t elicit the same level of emotion. All those Coca Cola signs, Nike shoes and NBC logos will get a lot more display as journalists sniff around Beijing for good stories. Chinese consumers will be watching in record numbers. In the absence of a widespread boycott (which will — and should be — avoided), the games could turn out a boon for the companies involved.

Reader Comments

Squeezebox

April 10, 2008 4:57 PM

The best way for the world to express its' displeasure with China is to ignore the games entirely. Pretend there's static on the TV and watch a different channel. People contacted sponsors asking them to drop out. The sponsors did not. Let's punish the sponsors. People protested at the torch relay. As a result, much of the relay is being cancelled because Beijing doesn't like what the world has to say about their behavior. Let's snub Beijing!

Faye Wong

April 10, 2008 9:36 PM

perfect example that there is no such thing as bad publicity

Keiko

April 10, 2008 11:31 PM

Why the US just can't respect Chinese's feelings spewing out all kinds of vicious reports and comments. There really was a time I believed Americans were more open-minded.I was so completely wrong. Americans are not only very much narrow minded. They're snub and very much racist. They don't have any respect for other cultures and other people's feelings. Tibet was and always will be a part of China. When a Tibetan Chinese kills a Han Chinese or other Tibtans. He or she is a criminal and has very reason to be punished. When a balck kills a white in the US, do y punish the black? Do y call that a crackdown? The American media can never admit they're brainwashed or biased or outright bribed to be running all those lies, because the American public lap it right up. The other day, a major American news outlet published a story about the Chinese Olympic flames guard pushing a torch bearer like thugs, but conveniently left out the fact that torch bearer pulled out a Tibetan flag. What does that say about the unbiased Ameircan media? If y looked carefully, erevry report in the western meadia covers heavily on the protesters and make no or little mention of the pro-China group. How is that for " fair". And if nothing else, Tibet still is part of China. China has every right to dispine and mantain stability. Compared to the US' invading another country just for the lovely Bush's pleasure and costing millions of lives along the way, China is very much restrained. If this is "crackdown", The US is defnitely conducting geneocide in Iraq. And if we have any problem with the way the Tibet situation is handled, it's up to the Chinese people themself. It's none of the warmonger/mass killers' business.

chamberlain

April 11, 2008 5:40 AM

Completly support keiko's justice and unbiased comment!

SAS

April 11, 2008 6:16 AM

Keiko-san,
You have to learn the world's history in Wikipedia and learn about the Tibet's old civilization and the Chinese Han were not the first invaders !?.
it's not a matter of racism, but of respect of other cultures,values and religions. And the way, China is sustaining Myanmar Junta and Darfur holocost is despicable.It's the reason why, we are now against the Chinese government, not against the Chinese people!.

JiaMing

April 11, 2008 11:48 AM

SAS,

When you start calling for boycotts on all future international events hosted by the United States, and all major American product brands for the invasion of Iraq, come back and lecture the Chinese. This is not against the American people, just the US government.

johnnynoble

April 11, 2008 12:37 PM

Hey, SAS

We are not against US people, we are against US government.
By the way, why all the white guys just get out of North America right away as you took other people's land.

Huns

April 15, 2008 7:19 PM

SAS;

Read history book MORE CAREFULLY, Han Chinese invade Tibet? Tibet was part of China much longer than whites were in this land. Watch out, next it will be calls for all nonnatives leave north america, australia and new zealand.

Think that will not happen, you will see. It seems to me, who ever has the power speaks the "truth" in this world.

Huns

April 15, 2008 7:21 PM

SAS;

Read history book MORE CAREFULLY, Han Chinese invade Tibet? Tibet was part of China much longer than whites were in this land. Watch out, next it will be calls for all nonnatives leave north america, australia and new zealand. Or southwest of us belongs to mexico!

Think that will not happen, you will see. It seems to me, who ever has the power speaks the "truth" in this world.

Aboriginals

April 17, 2008 5:01 AM

I think it's time for the Chinese government to support the native Americans(The Aboriginals) to break away from the evil Empire. What rights would the so-called Americans who migrated to this piece of land merely about 200 years ago support Tibet to be an independent country when they actually 'invaded' the freedom the Aboriginals were enjoying in the first place.

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