Will the Snub Matter?
  ·  2022-01-19  ·   Source: NO.3 JANUARY 20, 2022
The U.S., New Zealand, UK, Canadian and Australian governments in December of last year successively announced their "diplomatic boycott" of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 under the pretext of the so-called human rights issue in China. How does this move undermine the Olympic Spirit and affect participating athletes? Beijing Review reporters brought the topic to people from different countries. Edited excerpts follow: 

George N. Tzogopoulos 

Director of the EU-China Program at the Centre International de Formation Européenne from Greece 

The true Olympic Spirit goes hand in hand with fair competition, peace and respect. Although the modern era differs from ancient times, the original values remain unchanged.

The Beijing 2022 Games have already taken on a political dimension. Notwithstanding the obstacles, what really matters is the successful organization of the Games. This certainly lies in the hands of the Chinese Government and the Chinese people (including volunteers) who have been working very hard. China has the capacity to impress the international community in both events, create excellent conditions for participating sportspersons and follow strict pandemic protocols—for competitors and officials alike. I prefer to look at the very substance of the Olympics and expect great athletes from all over the world to set new records in Beijing. 

Jorah Kai Wood 

English teacher at Chongqing Foreign Language School from Canada 

Historically speaking, the Olympics would have been an outstanding opportunity for countries around the world to compete, an unbiased fair display of sports and athleticism. I think especially during the ongoing pandemic, this is an opportunity to remind the world it still needs to get up every day, to take people's minds off the lockdowns that are happening in so many Western countries still, and to do something healthy, something interesting.

The politicization of sports is unacceptable. The world is a very large and complex place, but I do believe the idea of coming together in the spirit of sports is very positive.

David Ferguson 

Recipient of China's Friendship Award 

Editor & writer with the Foreign Languages Press from the UK 

The Olympic Spirit is one of intense, but friendly, international competition conducted among individuals representing their countries.

I think the impact of the boycott on the actual Olympians will be very limited. Let's be honest: Elite sportspeople are primarily concerned with achievements. I think, for the most part, Olympians will not notice or hear much about the boycott. Their primary motivation is not political, but I do hope that those who do come to China and those who do participate and those who do see what China is actually like will realize this politicization.

There is no doubt the "Xinjiang genocide story" has served to provide some better-fitting context for the boycott of the Beijing 2022 Games. This deep need to create hostility, to create confrontation, and to create enmity on the part of the people against China is something that irks me.

Tomokazu Ueno 

Japanese reporter with People's China magazine 

I think the Olympic Spirit can be seen in all those who compete in the Games. Of course, results matter. But by competing, participants sharpen their skills and communicate with people from different countries, which is all that matters.

Our world today faces many problems, such as division. However, the Olympic Games can bridge national borders. They bring harmony to the world. I think this is also part of the Olympic Spirit.

Lizeth Arauz 

Documentary photographer from Mexico 

The boycott that the U.S. has orchestrated against the Beijing 2022 Games reveals the character of this nation in its entirety—a character that has time and time again led to its intervention in the policies and affairs of other countries.

There is no coherent reasoning that supports the boycott. The excuses put forward by the U.S. are unable to completely veil the central cause of its actions, namely its dissatisfaction with the growing economic leadership of an Asian giant.

What is clear is that while they can boycott as many events as they want, they will not be able to detract from the Olympic spirit. For the time being, the Games will take place according to schedule and will surely be a great success.

Time will prove the Chinese people right.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon & G.P. Wilson

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