Tibetan Uprising: Should Countries Boycott the Olympics?

Deutsche Welle has collated various excerpts from European editorials that address the upcoming Beijing Olympics in relation to China’s violent suppression of Tibetan protesters:

Rome’s La Repubblica: “Western governments will continue to give the upper hand to Realpolitik over humanitarian solidarity.”

Zurich-based Neue Zuercher Zeitung: “Sporadic indignation and hasty kowtowing before dictators and their wishes does not create respect for democracy in China.”

The German Leipziger Volkszeitung called a boycott a “demonstration of powerlessness” on the part of the West: “If sports are supposed to play the world’s moral authority, the policy has failed … As Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984 have shown, boycotts harm only the athletes and are politically ineffective.”

Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten: “A bloodbath in Tibet would make it impossible to take part in a peaceful sports rivalry in Beijing.”

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant: “The Chinese rulers are faced with a big dilemma. A clampdown, which would cause a lot of bloodshed, brings with it the risk of substantially damaging its reputation.”

Vienna newspaper Die Presse: “A boycott doesn’t make sense. The ‘youth of the world’ will be traveling to Beijing … The Chinese government should be told that its behavior until now in relation to its own ethnic and religious minorities is simply unworthy of a large nation.”

The Financial Times: “The Dalai Lama condemned what he called China’s ‘rule of ­terror’ and ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet. But he refrained from joining calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games in August. In the current violent circumstances, that is an olive branch, and Chinese leaders should grasp it.”

The German Rheinische Post: “China wants to present itself to the world as a modern government that is on its way to becoming the second world power after the USA. An Olympic boycott would burst this dream.”

Munich’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “It’s time to remind the Communists in Beijing that they need to remember that the Olympic Games do not only mean billions of advertising dollars and building contracts for the sons of party elites, but also require responsibility.”

Meanwhile, actor and chairman of the International Campaign for Tibet, Richard Gere, told Reuters Friday that the 2008 Summer Olympics should be boycotted if Beijing “mishandles protests in restive Tibet.” He stressed that neither the Dalai Lama nor the ICT is advocating a boycott at the moment.

“I’ve not been pro-boycott, but I think if this is not handled correctly, yes we should boycott. Everyone should boycott,” Gere told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Gere, a Buddhist for some 25 years, said he was grieving for “my bothers and sisters” in Tibet but “sad for both sides” in a dispute has that simmered and occasionally exploded since China annexed Tibet in 1950.

“As educated, as sensitive as the Chinese are, why they’ve misread the Tibetan situation from the very beginning is beyond me,” he said.

“It’s just so foolish and short-sighted. Everything that they want is destroyed in moments like this,” said Gere, referring to the Chinese quest for international respect and recognition they seek in hosting the Olympics.

The AFP is reporting that Frank Wolf, a senior House Republican lawmaker and human rights crusader, has asked President George W. Bush not to attend the games. Wolf likened them to the Berlin 1936 Olympics.

Bush’s presence would be akin to President Franklin D. Roosevelt sitting in the same stands as Germany’s Adolf Hitler in 1936, said Wolf, who plans legislation banning US officials from traveling to the Beijing games at taxpayers’ expense.

But Bush has promised to attend the Olympic Games and, according to the report, “effectively endorsed Beijing’s contention that the Olympics have nothing to do with politics.”

Xinhua is reporting that Russia, Pakistan, Germany and New Zealand are all opposed to the politicization of the Olympic Games and support the one-China policy.

From the blogosphere, Chris Salzberg takes a look at Japanese bloggers on Tibet. He writes, “the word ‘Tibet’ climbed to number one on Japanese blog search engines with thousands of entries largely in support of the uprising.” Here are just a few entries that address the potential for a boycott:

Blogger shibaken2 describes the boycott:


I am against participating in Olympics that are in a country that is a communist dictatorship.
Also let’s not buy any goods that are manufactured in China.
I hesitate to buy things when I think that children and women were worked like slaves to make them.
Why do other countries flock around this kind of country?

Blogger romery-chan considers the idea but doesn’t think it’s feasible:



I seriously understand people who want to boycott.
But in a country with more than a billion people, and corporations across the world inflating expectations of an influx of business opportunities, a boycott is impossible.

I wonder, what do people from Taiwan think about this…?

Blogger asu-he wonders about the Olympics as well:


It’s warm today and the weather is nice. I feel good.
It feels like it’s spring, and it’s nice to have some peaceful time.
But then, the newspapers are talking about the “Tibetan uprising in China”.
I wonder, will they really be able to host the Olympics?

Blogger nakahitosi goes as far as to compare the Beijing Olympics to the Berlin Olympics under Hitler:


The Beijing Olympics, more so even than the Berlin Olympics under the Hitler administration, are smeared deep red with the blood of many many people.

Simon Elegant at The China Blog writes:

Five months before the Olympics this really is a “perfect storm” for Beijing as it appears to be in a no-win situation: if the authorities don’t react, the protest will grow larger (remember Tiananmen?); if they do, and there are deaths, as would seem inevitable, they face the possibility of much more serious anti-Olympics/boycott campaigning that will far exceed the limited traction gained by the Darfur activists.

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