But I found this interesting (as reported in the Toronto Star) - it's a quote that comes from the CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, Chris Rudge, and it seems rather indicative of the international sports community's response to the controversy:
"I think particularly to use the athletes who have made so many sacrifices, to use them as pawns in a game that is politically, idealistically and socially very complicated would be unfortunate. I don't think we can ask one constituency, which are a force for good, to stand up and act on everyone's behalf."
Too bad it doesn't work that way. In fact, I'd say that it's a myopic* argument that takes as its premise that international sports is somehow disconnected from international politics. Sure, he's right to say that boycotts are part of a 'political game' - but so is participation. As ostensible participants in China's Olympic games, the athletes and their countries - Canada included - have unavoidably become tacit supporters of the Chinese government and their actions. But how that has escaped the notice of so many people - including the people responsible for international sports policy - is beyond me.
*I had originally written "idiotic", but decided that "myopic" is likely more accurate. And prettier to read.
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Update: At least France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, is honest about how politics play in the decision to compete in the Beijing Olympics. Depressing, but honest:
"When you're dealing in international relations with countries as important as China, obviously when you make economic decisions it's sometimes at the expense of human rights," he added. "That's elementary realism.''