Monday, 7 April 2008


so, after huge protests in london yesterday, the olympic torch relay has come to a finish in paris, with the torch actually being extinguished and transported though the streets on a bus rather than by foot.

i was sat in my bed yesterday, watching the bbc news from under my array of green, yellow, blue, red and white flags, following the torch on its way from a modest ceremony at some stadium to the streets to stop by gordon brown back to the streets and finally back into some other stadium. i am really torn about this. is it right for the olympics, the ultimate arena for peaceful (though rather sweaty) interaction between nations, to become the ground for political conflict? or is that just what the olympics should be; a way of highlighting relevant issues and pushing for change?

i am excited that the whole world seems to be engaged in this issue (except for inhabitants of beijing, it seems, answering with questionmark-like faces when asked by a bbc reporter yesterday about the protests in london) but also i am sad that the olympics have become an arena for world politics rather than sport.

as an avid olympics fan, who at 11 woke up in the middle of the night for two weeks in february 1998 to catch the action in nagano, i remember when the torch relay passed my house in 1994, how excited i was, and how proud we all were to organize the olympics. lucky for us our government was not torturing and depriving the lapps of their culture at the time.

thank god for the deserved publicity the tibetans struggle is getting.
i'm just upset it took the flame of the olympic torch with it.


Shane said...

thank you for writing about this sofie. i've been thinking about it a lot recently myself; less sad that the olympics is being marred by political fighting as happy that china's dirty laundry is being aired so publicly. it's about time. unfortunate thing is, though, i doubt much is going to change on account of all the publicity. china has too much power economically.
(the torch is going to san francisco following paris. who ever had that idea is an IDIOT -- and i'm kicking myself every day for not being home to join the protests. it's actually frightening this need i feel to protest.)

Else said...

I'm going to a seminar on the matter on thursday! I'll fill you in. Amnesty's big campaign this spring is about Beijing and the olympics. We actually had a demonstration in Oslo which was really cool. We set up an "olympic run" on Karl Johan (the main street), where the participators doing the run were China, Iran and Pakistan. China came first because it had the highest number of death penalties in the world. And then China got a trophy with the inscription "world's number one executioner". And this trophy, along with a lot of signatures "against death penalty bla bla", got sent to the Chinese prime minister.
I think that we can't not mix the olymics and politics here. China is calling their games "The perfect games, which really gives me the creeps. The human rights situation has worsened because of the olympics, since the party is using illegitimate measures to clean up the cities and throwing people into re-education camps and so on.
And because of the olympics the door to china is a little more open than usual, and therefor the world has to peek in and not to ignorant to what they see there.
(sorry you had to read this complete mess)