Thursday, 10 April 2008

Olympic Torch woes

It was all supposed to be so different - the Olympic torch relay through a number of countries was going to be something special for the Chinese but it has become an utter shambles. Following the debacle of its run through London and then Paris, in which demonstrations against China's human rights record and particularly their treatment of the Tibetans stole the headlines, the torch crossed the pond to America. The route of the torch through San Francisco had to be changed at somewhat short notice which meant bitter disappointment for a good many of the Chinese who live in that city. When the torch arrives in the host country we are told that it will pass through Tibet so we can expect some clashes there for sure.

The other day Labour MP Kate Hoey had pointed out that China was given the 2008 games on the understanding that it would improve its behaviour on human rights in a number of areas. Ms Hoey has stated that no progress has been made in any of them. So this begs the question of why such a major country should have been given the Olympics prior to them moving forward on human rights issues. There is a school of thought saying that politics should be kept separate from sport; that is an arguable point but the reality in any case is that like it or not they can't be kept separate.

To make things worse there is confusion about whether Gordon Brown had said he would be at the opening of the 2008 Games. It appears he had intimated he would go to the Games but Downing Street says he will not be at the start but would certainly be present at the closing ceremony. That last bit makes sense in as much as the Chinese will pass the baton to the UK when the Games conclude. The Chinese it would seem are not best pleased believing that our Prime Minister had committed himself to be at the opening ceremony though. As usual Mr Brown is looking somewhat uncertain as to what he should be doing.

Although I'm not fanatical about sport I realise just how important it can be to my fellow countrymen. With less than good news on the economy at the moment the government will desperately want some British success to generate a little bit of a feel good factor. We fluffed it when it came to the European soccer internationals so for Brown medals for Britain in China would be a godsend.

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