Steven Spielberg has decided not to participate in the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing as an artistic adviser, citing the lack of progress in ending the genocide in Darfur.
The move marks a public relations blow to the Chinese government as it tries to prevent the Games from being politicized, not just on the Darfur crisis but other issues.
"After careful consideration, I have decided to formally announce the end of my involvement as one of the overseas artistic advisers to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games," Spielberg said in a statement released today.
"I have made repeated efforts to encourage the Chinese government to use its unique influence to bring safety and stability to the Darfur region of Sudan," Spielberg wrote. "Although some progress has been made ...the situation continues to worsen and the violence continues to accelerate."
"With this in mind, I find that my conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual," he added. "At this point, my time and energy must be spent not on Olympic ceremonies, but on doing all I can to help bring an end to the unspeakable crimes against humanity that will continue to be committed in Darfur."
Spielberg noted that the Olympic Organizing Committee had sent him a contract nearly a year ago, but he left it unsigned.
I'm not usually the boycotting sort, but I think it would not be a bad idea to refrain from watching the Olympics this year. I'm well aware that I probably aid the Chinese government and economy by buying products made there on a regular basis, but giving them a public relations benefit like the Olympics seems like it's going a bit too far.