17 International Olympic Committee inspectors
February 22, 2001 7:08 AM   Subscribe

17 International Olympic Committee inspectors are in China reviewing its bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. Should human rights concerns be a factor in their decision? Does a sporting body have a duty to use compliance with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights as a gauge to measure hosting worthiness for any country (not just China)?
posted by will (7 comments total)
One of the most effective ways to improve the Human Rights situation in China would be to encourage the open exchange of ideas and culture rather than to attempt to isolate them. I think much of the Human Rights rhetoric in the U.S. is merely a smokescreen used by those who favor a Cold War atmosphere, and who really don't care about the Chinese people. There are people here who do care about the Chinese people and favor punitive sanctions. But I personally feel that there is more to be gained through engagement at this point. I favor awarding the Games to China. In fact, I would like to see the IOC award them the Games over the protestations of the U.S., to show that they can act as an independent, apolitical body. I know, but I'm allowed to dream a little.
posted by gimli at 8:16 AM on February 22, 2001

I think much of the Human Rights rhetoric in the U.S. is merely a smokescreen used by those who favor a Cold War atmosphere...

is not the human rights agenda avocated almost exclusively by the political left? do amnesty international or human rights watch actively favor a cold war atmosphere?
posted by will at 9:07 AM on February 22, 2001

I think that the IOC is just subtly hitting up China for the kinds of perks they got to site the games in Salt Lake.

Wink wink, nudge nudge.
posted by beth at 9:10 AM on February 22, 2001

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are examples of the folks who really do care about the people and might favor isolating China based on their Human Rights record. I also believe that the Human Rights argument is used to further the interests of those who would prefer to keep China isolated for other reasons. Those interests might be economic (those opposed to free trade, be they right wing or left) or political (the aforementioned Cold War reference). Bottom line, not every issue breaks evenly right/left. People at opposite political poles often find themseves on the same side of a given issue; however, their underlying motivations are usually not the same.
All of this, as with any post, is just my opinion. I would respect anyone else's opinion on the matter.
posted by gimli at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2001

Well, actually, there's quite a few people on the right, particularly the Christian Right, who object to political repression in China, especially of religious activities. The Republican Party, though, is firmly in the free-trade camp on this question.

I'm divided. I see the merits of engagement, but I am concerned about political freedoms. (I think the evidence shows that Cuba is far more deserving of engagement than China, too, yet that's not our policy.)

The Olympic idea is that sport is a venue for humanizing the other side in a conflict. Historically they've been to Moscow AND Nazi Germany (then there's Los Angeles ... not to mention the Theocracy of Utah ... uh ... heh), so snubbing China for lesser repression seems excessive. Besides, the snubbing has usually been in the form of boycotts by member states rather than an IOC action.
posted by dhartung at 12:47 PM on February 22, 2001

Human rights? Yeah, right. The Olympic Committee does not and has never given a damn about anything except (a) making money and (b) appearing above board. Send them to one of those Chinese slave camps for all I care.
posted by johnnydark at 1:04 PM on February 22, 2001

I agree with you about Cuba, dh. Can you imagine the furor in the States if they ever put in a bid? There would be strange bedfellows on all sides of that one.
Remember, johnnydark, this is the new, improved IOC. Human Rights issues will be given the same grave consideration as doping.
posted by gimli at 1:16 PM on February 22, 2001

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