It is increasingly evident that those protesting China’s hosting the 2008 Olympics are not limited to appalled critics of Beijing’s deep involvement in the genocide in Darfur and now Chad. Supporters of essential free-press rights everywhere such as the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists make the crucial point that China imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world. Dictatorships, after all, shun sunlight.
When representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) went to Lausanne, Switzerland, last year to tell the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their concerns, IOC Executive Director Gilbert Felli declined to raise their issues with the Chinese government because “It is not within our mandate to act as an agent for concerned groups.”
After the meeting with the IOC, CPJ board member Jane Kramer of the New Yorker made this point that American and international companies sponsoring the Beijing Olympics should be reminded of: “We are very concerned that once the closing ceremonies are held and international attention fades, Chinese journalists will bear the brunt of official retribution for reporting any news that the government deems unfavorable.”
Inevitably, as the world watches the games on television, there will be brave reminders from some members in the audience, and even from some of the athletes, of lethal arms from China being used in the Darfur genocide; the vicious Chinese misrule in Tibet; and its imprisonment of Catholic priests and nuns. And of course, there will also be reminders of the mass murders of students in Tiananmen Square.
Meanwhile, the rising tide of repugnance at relentlessly oppressive China hosting the Olympics is manifest in such American cities as New York. On July 25, the New York Sun reported on a number of City Council members introducing a resolution “asking all corporate sponsors of the 2008 Beijing Olympics with headquarters and operations in New York” to pressure the Chinese government about its role in the genocidal atrocities in Darfur.
If these shaming efforts don’t succeed, China will brush them off, and, as Geoffrey Wheatcroft, writing about the Nazi Olympics of 1936 in the July 8 New York Times, predicts: “The Chinese government will suspend executions for a few weeks (before the games) and be able to say (at the opening ceremony) ‘A beautiful day, a great day.’ Those were Goebbels’ words after the opening ceremony in 1937, adding ‘A victory for the German cause.’”