Saturday, August 09, 2008

Murder at the Beijing Olympics

Eventually some novelist will pen a series of historical mysteries set at the Olympic Games, starting with the Athens games and continuing with a new novel for each succeeding event, with the same detective or his descendants solving the murders.

I dont think it's surprising that a real-life murder has just happened at the Beijing Olympics, but I was expecting the victim to be a poor Chinese protester taken away by the police never to be seen again. Instead, a Chinese man stabbed an in-law of the US Men's Olympic volleyball coach, killing him.

But even before the games of 2008 began, they were a disaster. Beijing made a promise years ago, when they were awarded the games, that they would clean up the city's pollution, which has been among the worst of any city in the entire world for a long time. China reneged on that promise. When some US athletes arrived at the airport, they wore face masks, which apparently upset the Chinese authorities, and they subsequently apologized. In a fair world, it would be China apologizing to all the athletes for the horrible pollution that they must endure for no reason except power politics. Beijing is one of the worst places on earth for elite athletes to compete against each other. It's a symbol of the absurdity of the world we live in.

China promised to allow free internet access for journalists, which was then rescinded. Japanese journalists in China were beaten up by the police. China is spying on foreigners in their hotels. More reasons for China to apologize, but that didn't happen, and won't.

A rhetorical question: How can the Chinese communist government lose face when it has no face to lose?

China agreed to accept applications for protests during the games. Last I heard, none of the applications had been authorized.

The Olympic Games are political in nature, taking the form of sporting events. The Chinese communist government is using the games to legitimize their political system and their authority. So far, I'd say they have given themselves two black eyes, as the entire world has seen how terrible their country really is, behind the glitz of the opening ceremony and the fabulously trained athletes.

Russian leaders planned the invasion of South Ossetia to coincide with the Beijing opening ceremonies, so the entire world would be occupied with the "sporting" events, and not their new war.

I can't say it was a good idea to award China the games for the purpose of exposing their warts. You never reward evil like that. Will human rights improve in any significant way in China when all the foreigners take their TV cameras and leave in a couple weeks? No, they won't.

If a country with the human rights record of China can host the games, I suppose any and all other disreputable governments have hope as well. North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan--are they the future hosts of the Olympics?

Meanwhile, everyone continues to say nice things about the Olympics, with "journalists" downplaying the pollution and applauding the uniqueness of the Beijing games. History, I think, will find a different verdict.