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Olympic boycott only hurts athletes

Letters to the Editor | Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In agreement with the April 18 column by Yue Li and Lili Ji entitled “Olympics symbolize peace,” I believe it is necessary for those protesting the upcoming Olympic Games to evaluate the implications of such an action.

Not only is it correct to say that the Olympics are not about politics, but what many appear to have forgotten is what the Olympic Games are about: the athletes. These individuals have dedicated countless hours to bettering body, mind and soul in aims of participating in this timeless, incredible and (supposedly) uniting experience. Then what happens? Just because the Olympic Games happen to find place in a country whose historical and recent conduct we reject, we throw a fit, forgetting that, although it is true that this event serves as a great opportunity for China to illustrate her character, the vast majority of the Olympics has nothing at all to do with the Chinese.

The eventual outcome – and it’s only getting worse – is that the separation between a government’s foreign policy and its common citizens is horribly perverted. We have wheelchair-bound Chinese paralympian Jin Jing being mauled as she’s wheeled down an avenue in Paris and, while we’re on the subject, world leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy boycotting the opening ceremonies. Is this for real?

Of course, boycotting the Olympics is nothing new, as countries have previously refrained from attending when quite convenient, namely in 1965 and 1980. But again, who is losing by our boycotting? Presumably, nation A boycotts nation B to pain nation B such that nation B will now stop doing whatever it is that nation A condemns. Unfortunately the pain is – in some cases literally – on the athletes more than anyone.

Ben Hechler


Alumni Hall

April 18