Olympic torch lit despite protest

It is an honour to meet people who are so intelligent and so full of wisdom that what they say is profound enough to have an impact on how one views life.

Over the weekend I was fortunate to interview a wonderful scholar. He implied or one could say that I gleaned from him the importance of making a stand. As a Sikh we need to ensure that we are defending the defense-less.

On a day when the Olympic torch was lit to embark on its journey to Beijing, it was interrupted. Protesters from media rights group, ‘Reporters Without Borders’ broke through the cordon of 1,000 police officers in Olympia as China’s envoy spoke.

China’s occupation in Tibet is clearly negative. Its influences in Dafur and Burma all point towards apathy. I recently viewed a documentary (Unreported World) where I witnessed how China is desperate for resources in Africa, incidentally driven by the West’s desire / demand for cheap consumer goods. The programme (Unreported World) suggested that China is walking away from ensuring that workers are not exploited.

The BBC also reported that, The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Jacques Rogge, has defended the decision to hold the Games in China saying:

The major political leaders don’t want a boycott.

In his speech during the ceremony, Mr Rogge said the Olympic torch relay and the Games should take place in a peaceful environment.

The torch is the link between all athletes and citizens of this world; between all of us who believe in Olympism and the virtue of sport. It has the force to unite humanity and to stand for harmony.

Today China has an opportunity to show that it can change its political stance. Is unity for humanity only achievable on a platform of athletic competition? I looked up the word ‘Olympism’. Its Ancient definition is in the beliefs of the ancient Greeks, who encouraged people to develop their physical, moral, intellectual, cultural and artistic qualities harmoniously. Modern Olympism promotes a way of life based on:

  • The balanced development of the body, will and mind
  • The joy found in effort
  • The educational value of being a good role model
  • Respect for universal ethics including tolerance, generosity, unity, friendship, non-discrimination and respect for others.

The Goal of Olympism is described as the use of sport to promote the balanced development of people as an essential step in building a peaceful society that places a high value on human dignity.

In one sense Olympism is confined to sport influencing change.

Where are the obligations for the country that is hosting the games. If they (any Olympic host) do not believe or respect the Olympic ideals how can the participants respect the associated country?

Before it becomes too late, China needs to adhere to the Olympic ideals of peace and understanding. Right now we all know that the games are important to China. Post games what aspect of influence will remain from the rest of the world?

We all need to make a stand and encourage dialogue for change, especially where there is a clear demonstration of apathy from either the host or any participating country. I am confident that the more of us that talk about the ideals of peace and unity the greater the potential that someone will listen and lives will be changed.

Categories: 2008, Anti-Fascism, Choice, Olympics 2008

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