Losing Goodwill at the Games
The Olympics have been amazing. Great athletes, amazing venues, wonderful organization. The Chinese have much to be proud of. But whatever goodwill that the Olympics have engendered in me is quickly being lost based on their treatment of dissent. The Chinese are being utterly hypocritical in promising to afford opportunities for dissent but not making good on those promises. Demonstrators require permits, but permission is never granted. If you try to procure a permit you will fail in that attempt, as Nicholas Kristof recently reported. But then if you protest without a permit you will be arrested. Five American students are now being detained for unfurling a Free Tibet banner for about twenty second last night at midnight. Twenty seconds of dissent gets you thrown in jail or deported? This could have been prevented had the IOC established appropriate contractual obligations and penalties for violating representations and warranties in the Olympic selection process. IOC President Jacques Rogge strongly supports a rule preventing “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or areas.” But he should be just as adamant that promises to allow demonstrations in designated areas be enforced.