Boycott the Winter Olympics

The United States should refuse to send its athletes to the Winter Olympics in China, scheduled to commence February 4th.

I realize our Olympians have trained long and hard for their dream which for most is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

While I’m aware of their sacrifice and dedication in earning a place on the team to represent the U.S. in the games, I cannot possibly know to the degree they worked to get there and what they went through.

I also have no idea what it would mean to be bitterly disappointed by not competing.

Nevertheless, world events must take precedence over the dreams of any athlete and must dictate the stance of our country in participating.

I wish the Winter Olympics were being held virtually anywhere else but in China, where there have been actions against human life and decency that cannot be ignored.

There are concentration camps that imprison members of a certain ethnic minority, to the degree that there is forced sterilization. Civil liberties in Hong Kong have been damaged, and on the sports front, one of its own star athletes, tennis player Peng Shuai, has been silenced after she accused a top Chinese government official of sexual assault.

In response to Peng’s mysterious disappearance, the Women’s Tennis Association has refused to hold events in China.

With the opening ceremonies less than two months away, some guests have already said they will not show up.

The current administration announced that U.S. government officials would not be attending the games in Beijing in protest of China’s human rights violations.

But the boycott by U.S. diplomats is an insufficient way of  getting the message across.

If the U.S. government is protesting the conditions in China, why are they only going half-way.

Why are they not going all-in by not sending its athletes to the games in a country that is conducting itself disgracefully?

I think we know why.

It’s about that old symbol called the dollar sign.

It seems to rule every move by nations, coaches, players, and everything that involves money.

NBC Universal paid $7.5 billion to the IOC for the rights to broadcast the Olympics from 2022 through 2032.

All the ad space has been sold out to the big corporations.

Can you imagine our government short-circuiting that investment?

So, it must be business-as-usual for those who have a huge stake in the Olympic Games.

The last boycott of American participation in the Olympics, as many know, was in 1980, when there was no presence at all at the Moscow Olympics, in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.

In all 66 countries failed to compete, and it brought out an argument AGAINST a boycott.

And that argument is, what does a boycott accomplish?

Obviously, Soviet policy did not change, in the Games themselves they dominated the medal count, and again, American athletes lost their one shot at an Olympic memory and a medal that might go with it.

There is no question that there are limits to having U.S. athletes avoid the Games.

And there is no doubt a boycott is more symbolic than anything else.

However, it does have an effect.

It is about raising a voice in protest of attacks on human decency which cannot be ignored.

I feel you can’t look away from how China, or any nation for that matter, is horribly treating its people.

Already, the Chinese government has warned of “resolute countermeasures”, without being specific.

They laugh at diplomatic boycotts, saying they have no influence on Beijing’s success in hosting the Olympics.

And they are correct.

But not having a powerful country such as the United States competing, would unquestionably have a negative effect on the event.

Despite possible or probable domination by the host country in the medal count, showing the rest of the world to what level the United States has utter disdain for what China has treated its people, would be a significant voice.

And let’s not forget, the role China has played in the COVID pandemic. You’d have to have your head in the sand to not understand where it all started, and the questions concerning a warning to the rest of the world to what was transpiring.

There are those who are of the opinion that an athlete boycott would make it more difficult to cooperate with China on other matters affecting the world.

This question leads to the much larger issue of whether a show of strength has more impact than a hope of conciliation and compromise.

I believe the way world events are evolving with both Russia and China answers that question emphatically.

Yes, like it or not, politics plays a role in all of this.

There are many who feel a boycott of the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics would have had considerable influence on Nazi Germany’s international reputation of racism and oppression.

Despite the phenomenal performance of Jesse Owens, the greatest American athlete of his time, we all either witnessed, or read about, the crimes which were to follow Nazi Germany.

There has to be some kind of an affect on the success of a country’s reputation, and finances, if a boycott is staged at a country’s biggest event ever.

In China, the Games would go on, and they would not alter their practices one iota.

But it would say to them, and to the rest of the world, that the United States, and other countries who would follow suit, that they do not accept the cruel punishment of people that has been their practice.

The voice of the United States must be heard in the most decisive way.

Boycott the Winter Olympics.