Posted by: Dexter Roberts on August 28, 2008
I’ve just been reviewing reader comments on the recent story I did “Beijing Olympics: Winners and Losers,” August 25, 2008. Thanks for the varied comments. To a number of you who wrote in saying politics should not be mixed with sports and with the Olympics in particular, I would like to point out the following: First of all, I’m afraid it’s impossible to keep the two separate—from the 1936 Berlin Olympics where Jesse Owens won four gold medals before a shocked Adolf Hitler and a delighted world audience, to the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics, the Games and politics inevitably become entwined. That’s the price—or the benefit depending on your perspective—of holding an event that brings together people and countries from around the world.
Secondly, why does the hope that the Olympics might encourage a more open society have to be seen as negative or an attack on China? Some of you suggested that and it frankly baffles me—wanting Chinese to have more freedom, including to speak out seems to me to be pro-China and pro-Chinese. After nearly 14 years living in China I can say with some authority that people here are living in an ever more open society—and that I think is a good thing. Why shouldn’t a monumental event like the Olympics provide a further boost to that process?