Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom: The Boycotts of ’08 Revisited

From The Far Eastern Economic Review:

It was springtime in the eighth year of a young century and the Olympics would begin soon in an old capital. No medals would be awarded until the summer, but the ’08 Games were already shrouded in controversy due to talk of a boycott linked to the host country’s policies in a territory it controlled. Meanwhile, a different sort of boycott call had gone out several weeks earlier when Chinese people grew angry at a foreign power.

This sounds like a recap of the China events that were making headlines before the tragic earthquake hit Sichuan. But the paragraph applies equally well to the situation exactly a century ago, when the start of the first London Olympics neared, some Irish athletes threatened not to compete, and Chinese were boycotting Japanese goods.

And there would soon be another 1908 occurrence, a gesture of defiance during the Opening Ceremonies, which could have a 2008 counterpart. When the American team paraded, they refused to bow before the King.

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