Theological Editions - Indepth daily religious news, views, reviews & key theological resources

In-depth religious news, views, reviews, features & resources for the thinking person



Liturgy & Prayer

News & Magazines


Texts & Resources


Politics and the Beijing Olympics
by Graeme J. Davidson,
19 April 2008

Politics is the lifeblood of the Olympics. Despite the Olympic Charter stating the Games are contests between individuals or teams “and not between countries,” athletes represent nations and rival political ideologies.

....Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, believed “the most important thing is not to win but to take part". In the 1920s, American sports writer Grantland Rice echoed this: “it’s not that you won or lost - but how you played the game". We use quotes like that when athletes lose.
.... But let’s face it, the Olympics aren’t really about playing or taking part. Remember Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards, Britain’s amateur ski jumper at the 1988 Winter Olympics? The worse he did the more we loved him, but the authorities were not amused and upped the entrance requirements to eliminate such losers. To be consistent, why not change the Olympic motto of “swifter, higher, stronger" to that of 1950s American football coach Henry Sanders: “Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing"?
.... To help make the 2008 Games in August a winner for China, Beijing is repressing dissidents at home and trying to deflect protests over its human rights abuses by promoting a politics-free Olympics

.... Politics is the lifeblood of the Olympics. Despite the Olympic Charter stating the Games are contests between individuals or teams “and not between countries,” athletes represent nations and rival political ideologies. We want our athletes to step onto the winner’s podium in our national colours to the sound of our national anthem so that we, as a free democratic nation, can bask in their glory. That’s why government, business and other interest groups spend up large to promote elite athletes. Hitler used the 1936 Munich Olympics to showcase the Nazi belief in Aryan superiority, and the USA and the USSR vied for medal tallies to show who was the greatest during the Cold War.
.... That puts pressure on athletes to make winning the only thing, and if they win we worship them as demigods. And when they are caught cheating or fail miserably, they become pariahs. Greeks felt humiliated when their superheroes Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou failed to show for a drug test and then withdrew from the 2004 Athens Games. Her teammates – and the rest of Australia - were angry with Sally Robbins for stopping rowing during the final of the Women’s Eight.
.... The Olympic Charter bans any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda”. Yet, Cathy Freeman was allowed to display the Aboriginal flag to highlight the plight of the Stolen Generations after she won at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. What if a Tibetan athlete displays a Tibetan flag at the Beijing Olympics to draw attention to a “stolen country”? We’d expect Chinese authorities to treat it as a security breach, punish him or her and blame the Dalai Lama.
.... To get the Games China promised improvements in human rights. Yet, when Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, reminded Beijing of this and added, “the events in Tibet are a matter of great concern to the IOC,” Beijing told him to keep politics out of the Games. Human Rights Watch says the Olympics have provoked a wave of oppression in China and that “over the past two decades, the Chinese government has chronically restricted basic freedoms, including those of association, expression, and religious practice”. Then, there are those who object to China’s role in the Darfur conflict, its support for the military rulers in Myanmar, as well as the brutal crackdown in Tibet.
.... Political boycotts of the Olympics are not new. African countries shunned the 1976 Montreal Games as a protest against our All Blacks playing rugby in apartheid South Africa. Western countries avoided the 1980 Moscow Games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and, four years later, Eastern Bloc countries retaliated against the Los Angeles Olympics.
.... Human rights groups have called on world leaders to protest China’s abuse of human rights by boycotting the opening ceremony in Beijing. Despite our free trade deal with China, let’s hope our leaders have the ethical conviction to stay away and that our athletes – and we – will wholeheartedly support them.



See also
Should we intervene to prevent suicide? >> more
Divorce risk indicator >> more
When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger >> more
Surving the breakup >> more
Suicide terrorism as a desperate weapon of liberation >> more
Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity >> more
Seven common myths about religion >> more
Moral divide between church leaders and laity >> more
Unholy silence over MPs hypocrisy and greed >> more
Anglican schism over gay clergy inevitable >> more
My agonising path to enlightenment >> more
More than ever, it's a time for generosity >> more
National's ethics smell of political expediency >> more
Pope's trip to Holy Land fraught with potholes >> more
The resurrection may have been superfluous >> more
Rasputin — from sinner and seducer to saint? >> more
Religious delusions and the Jerusalem syndrome >> more
Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism >> more
What Castro and Obama have in common >> more
Holidays can revive romance or widen cracks between couples >> more
Dubious scholarship reinterprets Jesus to fit secular creed >> more
Furore over gay marriage echoes the conflict over slavery >> more
If only politics were as certain as dear old granny >> more
You've got to have faith to win the White House >> more
The problem of evil >> more
TV Programmers let lose Roman circus >> more
Prostitutes welcome in the kingdom of God but not in Dannevirke >> more
Church too busy navel-gazing to take lead over crime >> more
Will the Anglican Church split over gay clergy and same-sex unions? >> more
Faith in secular western society >> more
The Vatican's pelvic theology >> more
Abuse and the Beijing Olympics >> more
Would the real Jesus stand up? >> more
Hypersensitivity perverts ethics >> more
God and presidential hopefuls >> more
A three-ghetto church based on politics >> more
Good and bad intentions >> more
Deliver us from exorcists who harm >> more
How effective is prayer? >> more
Masters of non-violence, resistance and kung fu >> more
Was Mother Teresa living a lie? >> more
Double standards over child sex abuse >> more
Soppy inspirational and pseudo-spiritual emails >> more
Caring organisations and pyschopathic bosses >> more
The new anti-religious evangelists >> more
Call for religious education could backfire >> more
Blessing creatures great & small — but what about blowflies? >> more
Does God exist only in the brain? >> more
The Prudes who crucify >> more
tomb raiders and the bones of Jesus and his family? >> more
Jesus loves Osama >> more
Is God more like a matchbox or a number? >> more
Confessions of a failed axe murderer >> more
Bacchanalian festivals and sentimentality >> more
Manners: insignificant social customs? >> more
The 109 fighting boys >> more
Trying to exhume the historical Jesus >> more
Is global violence really on the increase? >> more
Polygamy, circumcision, atheist journalists and religious diversity >> more
The Christian Right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology  >> more 
What a rat taught me >> more
The Church is becoming a retirement hobby for granny clergy >> more 
Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood? >> more
Have church schools sold out on Christianity? >> more
How good a Christian is President George W Bush? >> more

Hitler, Lawyers, Politicians SUV owners and life after death >> more

Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace? >> more
Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy? >> more
Skulduggery and controversy over discovery of religious texts >> more
The cartoons aren't about secular freedoms versus intolerance >> more

Christian Zionists hinder justice and peace in the Middle East >> more

Should making more money be your New Year's resolution? >> more
My early life as a black sheep in a nativity scene >> more
Different types of suicide bomber: what makes them tick >> more
Cheating a short cut to sucess in winner-take-all society >> more
Life after death: Is it logically possible? >> more
Is it Anglican to practise apartheid? >> more
Da Vinci Code unlocks controversy>> more
Bishops' statement: pompous, pious, out of touch and verging on the heretical >> more 
Church leaders unconvincing over prostitution law reform >> more
Divorce risk factors >> more
How global are we?  A Christian's view of globalisation >> more
Victims of dirty tricks & friendly fire: Machiavellian tactics in the Church militant >> more
A redundant resurrection >> more
War, violence, ethics, religion and hypocrisy >> more
If St Peter was interviewed for ordination today >> more
13 ways to empty a church without really trying >> more
How tolerant is the Museum of Tolerance? >> more
A church comes out and reconciliation divides >> more
Micah's dream — too much to ask? >> more
Has the revised Anglican Church in New Zealand instigated a benign form of religious apartheid? >> more
The case for St Judas Iscariot >> more
Exorcism: the ministry of deliverance >> more