So much for fellowship.
So much for the symbolism of the five connected rings.
So much for the grand Olympic spirit that once celebrated our shared humanity.
As Beijing's Olympic torch winds its way from protest to protest, as politicians line up to champion boycotts,
Your sisters in Darfur? Shush. Your brothers in Tibet? Shush. Your hosts in China, whose own mouths are stifled by their Communist leaders? Shut up.
It's funny, the International Olympic Committee fancied itself on answering some higher calling when it first awarded the Games to China. Beijing's bid book talked about building infrastructure and forging sustainable legacies, luring the Committee members with the grand vision of boosting a country's self-esteem. IOC vice president
Article 51 of the Olympic charter states "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas." But, apparently, that's not restrictive enough to appease the Chinese. And so the British Olympic Association slid a contract in front of its athletes, prohibiting them from so much as commenting "on any politically sensitive issues." So did Belgium. And New Zealand. Even Canadian Olympic Committee president
The athletes have even tried to speak their mind on the political issues tainting the event. But virtually the instant French athletes proposed to don badges reading, "Liberte, egalite, fraternite" or "For a Better World," the French Olympic Committee nixed the idea and IOC head
The one-world, one-people humanitarians amongst us say Olympic athletes are in a unique position. That these Games are
Forty years ago this summer,
Smith and Carlos split a pair of gloves, silver medalist
"That was the Olympic fellowship," Smith said, sighing this week as he waited for a plane to the Netherlands. "We came together as athletes, from all over the world, and were all reminded we are humans."
By enabling, and even assisting, the Chinese's muzzling of athletes, national Olympic committees are making a mockery of the rights accorded to free people in a free world, whether it be through the repression of athletes or the censoring of media.
But this "shut up and play"? That's not OK. That's not the Olympics.