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Stand up, for today you can force China through a tunnel of shame

Posted by Author on April 6, 2008

Simon Jenkins, The Times, UK, April 6, 2008-

Today’s London publicity stunt for the Chinese regime should be ignored by the public and any reputable athlete or politician, unless to register a fierce protest. The four-month “journey of harmony” of the Olympic torch (or many cloned torches) through 21 nations is an exercise in political laundering. It is appalling that the prime minister is to “greet” his torch in Downing Street.

This tour has nothing to do with sport. It has been staged by the Chinese government, not the International Olympic Committee, with “celebrity runners” in each country approved by the commercial sponsors, Coca-Cola, Lenovo and Samsung. In Britain those conned into joining include Tim Henman, Sir Trevor McDonald, Vanessa-Mae, the Sugababes, Ken Livingstone and Gordon Brown. It shows how craven Britain has become to its membership of the so-called Olympic family and its Chinese parents.

The idea of carrying a lit torch from the Temple of Hera in Greece was invented by Hitler in 1936 to suggest a link between the German people and fellow Aryans in southern Europe. It was revived as a political act by Sydney in 2000 with a regional tour symbolising Australia’s links with the Pacific rim of Asia. Athens staged a world tour in 2004 in honour of the Games returning to their original home.

Nothing has equalled the present shenanigans. China’s ruling politburo knows that these Games carry heavy political baggage. Everything is image. The regime wants value for money from its $30 billion and that would never accrue from a mere fortnight’s track and field events.

That is why today’s London run, which began in Athens last month, will return to China by touching down in Lhasa, Tibet. There it will meet a torch from the summit of Everest. The centrality of Lhasa to the tour is to emphasise that Everest is in China by virtue of being in Tibet. It is not the protesting Tibetans who are polluting sport with politics, but their Chinese overlords.

Participants in today’s display are thus endorsing an event the climax of which is to celebrate a dictator’s conquest of a neighbour. When Saddam Hussein did that to Kuwait, Britain went to war. The least Britain owes the Tibetans is not to add to their humiliation. Playing sport is one thing, political cheerleading is another.

I normally dislike boycotts, embargoes and sendings to Coventry. They tend to hurt the wrong people and only boost the self-importance of those at whom they are directed. That particularly applies in areas such as sport, where non-political contact between young people in conflict-ridden parts of the world should be promoted rather than suppressed.

For that reason it is right, as the Dalai Lama has said, for athletes to participate in the Beijing Olympics, as in Hitler’s in 1936 and Moscow’s in 1980. But the athletes and their political and media hangers-on should recognise that the Games have never been politics-free, not since their revival in 1896. The ambition of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, their promoter, was emphatically political, hoping that big nations would “fight each other at the Games” instead of rushing into wars of national prestige.

Since then a self-perpetuating mafia, the IOC, has relentlessly hyped the Games as festivals of national prestige to push their cost way beyond that of any other world championship and beyond the hopes of any poor city or nation.

It demands permanent stadiums, villages and massive security, most of it useless for any lasting purpose. The world is littered with vacant and derelict Olympics venues. London has caved in to the same pressure and is building unnecessary sites for athletics, swimming and cycling, as well as London facilities for horse riding and shooting that could have been staged in the home counties at Hickstead and Bisley.

The IOC knows that only by investing the Games in flatulent pretension can it hope for rich governments to keep it in the style to which it has become accustomed. Nothing but dictatorship could have drained Beijing of the $30 billion that its Games are costing. After Britain’s experience of IOC lifestyle requirements – such as “Zil lanes” in Mile End Road for its personal limousines – it may have to rely on other dictatorships in future.

The pretension is embodied in the torch, a 20th century invention, called “a symbol of peace, justice and brotherhood” that is “bringing people together on its journey of harmony”. Its “mother flame” is being transported about the world in a specially adapted Air China jet, with 10 “flame attendants”, like Greek acolytes. The torch requires its own motorcade and a nightly hotel room where it must be surrounded by unsleeping guards.

No sport does itself credit by associating with antics reminiscent of the crazed millionaire in Dr No. Yet even London has capitulated to this nonsense, with the British Museum, Downing Street, Canary Wharf and the Docklands Light Railway all cashing in. Taxpayers must spend £1m on eight hours of police overtime culminating in the lighting of an “Olympic cauldron” at the Millennium Dome. If this were not the Olympics it would be total nutcase country, with the Witches of the Sabbath and the Flat Earth Society demanding equal time…… (more details from The times Online)

One Response to “Stand up, for today you can force China through a tunnel of shame”

  1. poncho said

    “Free Tibet, All Natives worldwide retake control”

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