I have very strong reservations with regards to the Boycotting of the Olympics in Beijing. Boycotts in the Olympics have rarely ever solved anything. In fact, it is very clear that boycotts leads to retaliatory boycotts which will eventually destroy the fabric of the Olympics which is to unite the world even in the face of our many differences in the Political Arena. The five interlaced rings of the Olympic symbol represent the union of the five continents. This union is shown via our universal language of sports where we compete in friendship and be able to appreciate each other’s culture.
Boycotts and extremism, thus far, have shown in history to only damage the purity of this sporting event and penalize the athletes who have dedicated years of their lives in the hope of representing their country. Extremism was exhibited in the Munich games, where a group called Black September kidnapped and executed some members of the Israeli Olympic Team. Israel retaliated by using airstrikes against who they believe are responsible. Nothing good came out of that scenario where the Olympics were used as a theatre for one’s cause.
Boycotting the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow did not result in the Soviets leaving Afghanistan, in fact, it only entrenches them even more. The Soviets, eventually, left Afghanistan, but certainly not because of the boycott. In 1984, the Soviets retaliated by boycotting the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. This tit-for-tat has no place in the Olympics. If people feel strong enough about the host country’s policies, they can always vote with their wallets which would send a more powerful message. Refuse to buy products from that country. By pushing for a boycott, it deprives the athletes and all the people that do not agree with the boycott, representation in the Olympics.
One argument of a boycott is the perceived notion that the expulsion of the South African contingent due to the country’s attitude towards apartheid led to the change. But, I beg to differ in that, the boycott, was only one of many factors that led to the ultimate change in South Africa. Factors like Portugal’s withdrawal from Mozambique and Angola, the withdrawal of US firms from South Africa to the release of Mandela were far more defining.
I believe, Olympic Games should be what it was purely intended to do. It is intended to give all countries (and their people) a chance to take a break from all the problems in the world and all the differences that we have in our thinking. It is the only event where we, as a race, can come together in peace and share in healthy competition.