Let not politics cloud the Games.
LET the Games begin and the politics end. On eight, eight, eight, an auspicious day if you believe in numerology as many in China do, the country is putting on for the world a lavish and unforgettable opening ceremony. Let us enjoy it, let us give credit for all the work that has gone into preparing a show with more than 10,000 participants, let us put aside criticism of human rights or freedom of expression or freedom in Tibet.
Those issues are undoubtedly important, but they should not cloud the day for the thousands of competitors who have waited a lifetime for the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. Nor should it cloud the achievement of the organizers and choreographers of such a spectacular show. We should all be able to enjoy the Games without guilt or justification, just as all the athletes should be able to compete without feeling somehow pressured by political matters that have no place in their desire to win Olympic gold.
An Olympic medal is an Olympic medal; it is not a Chinese medal or a Greek medal or an English medal; those competing today in Beijing should be able to do so with the same joy and openness as those who competed in Athens in 2004 or who will compete in London in 2012. It really angers me that the Olympics have been overshadowed by a political bandwagon. Whether or not I approve of the ways and means of the Chinese government is irrelevant to my support for the people taking part in the He. The Games should be politically neutral.
Of course, they never have been. They are a showcase for the country hosting them and China is rightly proud of what it has achieved since been awarded the Games and relishing the opportunity to show the world what a modern and developed nation it has become. That should not stop people from lobbying for freedom of expression or freedom of religion or any other important issue in a country's development. However, political lobbying should not be done at the price of destroying the Games for those who have toiled for four years to prepare for them.
Politics was here yesterday and will be here tomorrow and those fighting for justice will continue to do so when the Games are over, as they should. And just as in any political fight they should choose the battles they can win and use the means that succeed.
Pressuring China now over Tibet only serves to anger the Chinese government and forces them to retrench into a defensive 'this is an internal matter' position.
Let the Chinese put on a spectacular show for us. Let the Games be magnificent and memorable. And afterward, let a China that feels part and parcel of the international order find the means to resolve the plethora of issues it must deal with in order to become a fully developed state.
Copyright: Arab News 2003 All rights reserved.
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