Feature

Boycotting the Olympics at home

Will changing the channel send China a message?

NBC has its work cut out for it in Beijing, said Heather Havrilevsky in the Los Angeles Times. “Pulling off the traditional global pep rally that accompanies the Olympics” will be difficult “set against the backdrop of the deeply depressing realities of life in China.”

“If you want to change the Olympics,” said Jonathan Zimmerman in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “change the channel.” Worldwide protests over China's human rights abuses couldn't stop every major nation from sending athletes to the Summer Games that open this week in Beijing. So we fans should “stage our own silent demonstration” by refusing to tune in — call it the “People’s Boycott.”

“Please, no more boycotts,” said Edwin Moses, a two-time gold-medal winning hurdler, in the New York Daily News. The U.S. boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 did nothing to change Soviet policy in Afghanistan, and ignoring the Beijing Games would do nothing to influence China now. “After years of preparation and sacrifice, it's now time for these athletes to fulfill their Olympic dreams—win, lose or draw.”

Fine, let the Games go on, said Michael Gallagher in the Trenton, N.J., Times. But anyone who watches broadcasts of the competition or buys products from the advertisers is “condoning and financially supporting the oppressive policies of the Communist Chinese government.” Turning off your TV won’t free Tibet, but it’s the right thing to do.

“If the games are to be saved,” said Nicholas Wapshott in The New York Sun, it's up to the world’s Olympic committees to insist that the International Olympic Committee be held accountable. The IOC, after all, is responsible for letting China use the Games for propaganda. “Like the Chinese communist clique clinging to power, the IOC will only become democratic through the relentless power of the market.”

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