Let the games begin

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Though a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics seems to be uniting Democrats and Republicans, it is only tearing international unity to shreds.

Conservative leaders like presidential hopeful John McCain and Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have announced in a recent story that they will jump on the Olympic-Boycotting wagon. An international plan calls for the world’s most powerful nations, including the U.S., Great Britain and all nations in the European Union, to boycott the Olympics or at least the opening ceremonies taking place in Beijing this summer.

According to CNN.com, President Bush is shaky about the looming start to the 2008 Summer Olympics that seems to be generating more international hate ­- the event that previously brought the world together if even for just a few weeks every four years. The story stated that the possibility of a massive boycott exists because of China’s Communistic and poor human-rights record and also the recent treatment of Tibetan monks who spoke out against the genocide in Darfur.

Some officials reason that skipping only the opening ceremony would send an intended message to China, as it is the part of the Olympics dedicated to celebrating while host country and all other events are meant to support the athletes. However, few Americans realize that this isn’t the first time American representatives have abandoned supporting U.S. athletes to make a political statement.

Refusal to attend Olympic events has been a practice in effect for more than 50 years; ironically, China led the first withdrawal of participation during the 1956 games. In 1980, the U.S. led 40 other nations in its first boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as stated by teacher Jennifer Rocke in her Olympic timeline on Youth.com.

28 years later, history has begun to repeat itself. Protests surrounding the carrying of the torch are wreaking havoc across Asia and Europe. Boycotting the 2008 games sounds like a spiteful way to take care of a political issue and defeats the entire purpose of the Olympic Games.

Let’s put this into perspective. University “A” is under investigation by the NCAA for something the folks in the Big 12 see as a bit corrupt. As it happens, a few weeks after allegations against said university are made, the K-State football team is scheduled to play this school. In a stand against our seedy opponents, the deans, university president, faculty, alumni and the student body organize a boycott of the upcoming football game to show that they are against what University “A” has done. Who does that hurt? Only the coaches, staff and athletes of our football program are the ones truly feeling opposition from their own school. The wrong message would be sent in this case and the same end result would equate if an Olympic boycott was carried out.

Besides, if boycotting the Olympics is the key to solving international problems, why don’t they just happen every year? Our next president – whoever wins – has already begun to support use of the Olympics as a platform for scolding nations and molding new foreign policy. Maybe we can end the War in Iraq by the Winter Olympics so we can sit next to our new friends from Iran and Afghanistan and finally cheer on our athletes instead of broadcasting what Bush is doing in stead of attending the Olympics.

Additionally, such a boycott is bullying – something America is already trying to prove we don’t do. Attacking a nation at its most vulnerable point – with all of its resources strained while hosting such a large-scale event – is ridiculous. The saying that “there is a time and place for everything” should be applied to supporters of the boycott.

Where gaps between distrust and old, hard feelings exist, opportunities to temporarily bridge those gaps – like the Olympics – allow for representatives in the form of the best athletes to come together and shed a positive light on their respective nations. Boycotting the 2008 Olympics will overshadow this light and it only sends the wrong message to our athletes and the entire international community.

Aubree Casper is a freshman in pre-journalism and mass communications. Please send comments to opinion@spub.ksu.edu.

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