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Let the games begin

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A lot of attention is being given to the fact that President Bush plans to attend the Olympics next month in Beijing. It shouldn't.

The Olympic competitions are about athletes from around the world competing. Whether or not the U.S. President or any other head of state attends the games in China shouldn't in any way affect how the people of the world feel about the Olympics.

The decision of the U.S. to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow to protest Soviet military action in Afghanistan was a shameful abuse of federal power over a non-governmental activity. Of course, the Soviet Union's 1984 boycott of the Los Angeles Olympics in protest over the U.S. protest was equally shameful.

We also don't think it is appropriate to disrupt an Olympic activity, including the torch run, to protest actions that have nothing to do with the Olympics themselves.

Perhaps there should be consideration of a country's human rights record when deciding on whether to name a city in that country as the location for the Olympics. There are differing views regarding such a decision.

Some people feel that when a nation opens itself up to visitors from around the world, that in itself creates pressure to be more sensitive to its human rights image. On the other hand, that theory didn't seem to work in Nazi Germany when the 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin.

Whatever process is used to select the Olympic site, once it is selected the event should be as removed as possible from politics. Whether or not a head of state attends should be regarded as irrelevant.



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