25 March 2008

China, Tibet and sport

So there was a protest, at the lighting of the Olympic flame this weekend, against China's continued occupation of Tibet. What a surprise! Sadly, the Greek police are said to have beaten up the protesters, who did little more than wave a flag and shout.

We sometimes hear the view that sport and politics shouldn't be mixed. This is always expressed by people who want the sport to go ahead despite the unacceptable behaviour of the host country. The Olympics shouldn't have been awarded to China so early in its transition from Communist dictatorship to something new, but it's too late to undo that mistake. However, if it continues to kill people in Tibet and refuses to discuss or acknowledge any rights of the people of Tibet, it's not too late for athletes and countries with a conscience to stay away from the Beijing Games.

And if that means in turn that London loses the 2012 Olympics, so what? We'd no longer be obliged to meet the demands of the IOC, no longer subsidise this vehicle for politicians' flag waving, and save about £8 billion too. And we could spend that on sport.



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