I watched the Olympic torch run on television with a sense of shock and concern. At one point the aerial shot of the runners revealed it all. Put simply, it was ‘a ring within a ring’. The torch was centre piece, surrounded by 3 layers of security. The first a blur of blue/white (the Chinese police/ security/ guard???), the second the yellow jacket clad police (layer 1 of 2 of the UK protection squad) and finally black uniformed metropolitan police in all their shiny silver button glory. I heard news reports that suggested that if one had gone to actually see the torch it would have been difficult to pick it out.
Everyone now knows that it was disrupted on route of its 31 mile journey through London with 35 arrests of protesters. At numerous points the latter named authorities boarded a bus to provide even more protection.
The torch relay has been positioned as a journey of harmony. Is this concept of traveling through cities aimed at bringing people together around the theme of ‘one world’? Who owns the torch? It is certainly not the Chinese although they can be considered as temporary guardians.
I wondered about the relay runners. I am certain that for each one (including the Chinese ambassador who ran with it through London’s China Town) that it must be a dream come true. We need to consider these dreams, especially the extremely dedicated athletes that spend every working day to prepare for these 4 yearly games.
As I implied in a previous article (see http://www.saviarora.com/olympic-torch-lit-despite-protest/),
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?
Interestingly, if we look at the history of the Olympic games, politics have been highlighted:
- The banning of South Africa due to its Apartied stance
In 1959, the non-racial South African Sports Association (SASA) was shaped to secure the rights of all players on the global field. After meeting with no success in its endeavours to attain credit by collaborating with white establishments, SASA went to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1962, calling for South Africa’s expulsion from the Olympic Games. The IOC sent South Africa a caution to the effect that, if there were no changes, she would be barred from the 1964 Olympic Games. The changes were initiated, and in January 1963, the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC) was set up. The Anti-Apartheid Movement persisted in its campaign for South Africa’s exclusion, and the IOC acceded in barring the country from the 1964 Games in Tokyo.
- The black panthers protest – marking sympathy with the civil rights movement
- Moscow non-attendance followed by LA’s non-attendance
- Hitlers behaviour during the Berlin Olympics of 1936
With regard to the latter, although the bid was won before the Nazi Party gained power in Germany, some leaders in the government saw the Olympics as an opportunity to promote their Nazi ideology. By allowing only members of the ‘Aryan race’ to compete for Germany, Hitler further promoted his ideological belief of racial supremacy. Hitler removed signs stating ‘Jews not wanted’ and similar slogans from the main tourist attractions.
At this moment we can only hope that China does reconsider its position of influence in some of the troubled areas of the world not just to look good but to make a lastsing change.
It is worth noting that Steve Covey wrote about the Circle of Influence in his book: 7 habits for highly effective managers. He suggests that we should think of ways to be more proactive and address the things you can do something about.
The Olympic torch is now at the centre of everyone’s concerns and influence of the Chinese is an opportunity for their redemption…