"We believe the Olympic Games are not the place for demonstrations and we hope that all people attending the games recognize the importance of this." Thus spake Samsung Electronics, one of 12 major corporate sponsors of the Olympics, when asked last week whether recent events in Tibet were causing them any concern. Coca-Cola, another Olympics sponsor, has stated that while it would be inappropriate "to comment on the political situation of individual nations," the company firmly believes "that the Olympics are a force for good." The chairman of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, was also quick to declare that "a boycott doesn't solve anything"—just as quick as he was to dismiss the demonstrators who waved a black banner showing five interlocked handcuffs, in mockery of the Olympic symbol, at Monday's lighting of the Olympic torch in Greece. "It is always sad to see such a ceremony disrupted," he declared, rather pompously.
And no one was surprised: Companies that have invested millions in sponsorship deals and Olympic bureaucrats who have invested years trying to justify their controversial decision to award the 2008 Olympics to Beijing are naturally inclined to use those sorts of arguments. But that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to believe them.
Look a bit closer, in fact, and none of those statements holds up.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Slate writer Anne Applebaum laid out a good case for why boycotting/protesting the 2008 Olympics is entirely appropriate: