What would Tiananmen Tank Man Do?

I don’t think he’d watch the Olympics. Of course I can’t know this, because we don’t know who he was, whether he is still alive, or whether he would actually be an enormous fan of the Olympics right now.

Still, I am not watching these Olympics, simply because I can’t square my conscience with supporting the regime’s propaganda exercise. I’m well aware that this minuscule piece of refusenik behaviour on my part will make no concrete difference to any of those oppressed by the regime. It won’t make any difference to our excited athletes who’ve put years of training into being there either – there’s plenty willing to cheer them on. Nonetheless it matters to me that I can say that I’m not part of it.

Hoyden About Town will still discuss certain aspects of the Olympics from a social commentary/criticism POV. We just won’t be discussing any of the events per se.

P.S. [update] It would be great if this comments thread ends up as a linkfest to various bloggers who are posting social commentary regarding this particular Olympiad. Drop those links below, please!

Categories: arts & entertainment, ethics & philosophy, Politics, social justice

Tags: , , ,

8 replies

  1. I’m not watching either, partly for the sorts of reasons you mention and partly because I just can’t get excited about most sport anyway.
    mimbless last blog post..Menu plan 11 Aug 08

  2. I normally do watch some of the sports, because there’s a few of my favourite spectacles which don’t tend to get televised all that much between Olympiads. But not this time.
    I’m not being precious about avoiding every scrap of coverage – when it comes up in the news I’m not switching channels or anything. I’m just not watching any full event broadcasts.

  3. From For Battle!Olympic Fever
    edited to add:
    Anna McM from The Hand MirrorGiving China A Hard Time. Anna points out that when examining human rights abuses in China we should not forget to look at abuses closer at home and at our own complicity in these abuses as global consumers.

  4. I really wish the Olympics could just be ‘politics-free’ maybe that’s a naive comment… ignorant… whetever. But I love the sport, that is all, and as far as I’m concerned China’s only the host – the Olympics aren’t Chinese.
    I’m very happy to be put in my place or for someone to give me a compelling reason as to why I am wrong, I want to know in fact! But from where I currently stand – the Olympics are fun, great to watch, inspiring and are a time when us Aussies do actually show a bit of patriotism and pride in our little (but great) country… I look forward to the Olympics every single year and apart from the opening ceremony (which this year I must say was bloody good) I barely register which country it is in – I’m just there to cheer on the athletes. Is it so hard to let such positive events as the Olympics remain purely about the sport?

  5. Believe me, Jules, I do have much sympathy for that position, because I’ve worked with elite athletes as a physio and I appreciate the art that they bring to pushing the human body as far as it can go. I just can’t bring myself to adopt that depoliticised position in this case.
    The Olympics have been well and truly politicised for virtually the whole of the modern period, and that’s exactly why the IOC should never have awarded the games to China in the first place. What’s next, Saudi Arabia with the Wahabists insisting that no female athletes appear at all?

  6. Channel 4 in the UK showed an excellent documentary on The Tank Man which included attempts to identify him.
    This half-hour quickie from the BBC’s Panorama is worth checking out just for the story of the paralympic athlete banned by the reigime. He was a normal athlete until Tiannamen Square, lost his legs being run over by a tank and then became a paralympic athlete until it became public just how he became disabled and is now banned from any kind of competition by the state because it makes them look bad. Journo John Sweeney is best known for going postal all over the Scientologist and is a bit of a pain and seems to be the only one genuinely shocked that the chinese have reneged on their promise of freedom to foreign press.

  7. Perhaps I need to think next time before I ask the question…. after visiting the links above (thanks Deus Ex Macintosh) I now am battling with my conscience… I love the Olympics, I’m not sure I can give them up….
    However I do (conveniently…?) still hope for the day when what happens within the host country does not affect the Olympic event itself. I realise that the Olympics have always been politicised and can certainly see the merit in boycotting these Olympics because of what is happening in China – but as long as the rest of the world are there, unaffacted and still competing then so am I.
    ….and if in 2016 the Olympics are held in Saudi Arabia and the Wahabists insist that no female athletes appear then yes, I too will boycott… but as long as China doesn’t try and stop my countrymen from competing, and allows them to compete against the rest of the world – then I will continue to watch (but slightly better informed than previously – thankyou)

  8. I wasn’t trying to put you off Jules, honestly. I’m watching the swimming myself at the moment. **blush**

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