Richard Carnes: Non-political Olympics a farce
“One World, One Dream” is the official slogan for the 2008 Summer Olympics in China, which begin this Friday.
The idealistic phrase, however, comes with a few ” how shall I put it? ” conditions.
Apparently it only applies to those who are not gay, black, Mongolian, from Tibet or Taiwan, religious extremists of any flavor, anarchists, can remember bits and pieces of an “incident” at Tiananmen Square, have symptoms of or are developing asthma, or anyone else the totalitarian regime considers socially undesirable at this particular moment in time.
“One Communist Country, One Nightmare” is more appropriate.
Imagine, if you will, our very own Vail Valley Foundation, known around the globe for their highly impressive organization skills, holding another World Ski Championship in Happy Valley, only this time they change a few things. For instance:
The worldwide press, during their visit, will be unable to access certain “politically sensitive” Web sites, such as those discussing affordable housing or rental rates during the games, and any mentioning Aspen, Whistler, or whichever ski competitors are considered a current threat.
Man-in-the-street interviews will be forbidden, for fear of unauthorized statements being made to the world.
Road blocks will occur at all roundabouts, with credentials (room keys, ski passes, etc.) being required of all occupants to continue.
Stray dogs will be shot on sight.
Elk will be removed from all restaurant menus.
For those special photo ops, stuffed lynx will be strategically placed on top of visually appealing rock outcroppings.
Leadville buses will be re-painted in “Gore-approved” shades of green, using water-based but smudge-free paints.
Locals living in substandard housing will be relocated to Dotsero and not allowed to drive their cars.
Signage of any type will be forbidden at all events, including the dreaded cowbells, even the purple ones from Switzerland.
Those caught taking photographs of dirt patches, implying limited snow depths, will be immediately jailed without formal charges until after the closing ceremonies.
All of the above, in one form or another, are actually occurring today in China as we prepare to watch what Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong calls, “China’s coming out party to celebrate its progress and opening up to the world.”
Evidently “progress” is a facetious term meaning “You think it’s bad today, you should have seen us yesterday!”
Although not yet 100 percent verifiable, Hong Kong’s English newspaper, The South China Morning Post, reported last week that Chinese authorities have issued a secret ban on blacks, Mongolians and other “social undesirables” from Beijing’s bars during the Olympics.
Completely verifiable, however, is Internet use for the “free” press is now restricted, average Joes are not allowed (via threat of persecution) to talk to members of the media, roadblocks are everywhere, restaurants must remove “dog” from menus (maybe not such a bad thing), vehicles and manufacturing plants are sporadically forbidden to operate due to potential pollution levels being lethal to athletes (definitely a bad thing), and security is tighter than former Vail Mountain chief Bill Jensen’s lips probably were during his exit interview.
They have placed outspoken citizens in prison, ousted over a million residents of Beijing to make way for sporting arenas, and done more than any country to date to damage the integrity of the Olympic Charter, which states that “any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with the Olympic Movement.”
Still, I’ll have my DVR set to record with the 14-hour time difference, and I’ll do my best to not think about Berlin in 1936, Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972 or Moscow 1980, and keep reminding myself these games are not political, but about the athletes and national pride.
Besides, wasn’t “One world, one dream,” just lyrics from an old Queen song?
NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper ” but for freedom loving reasons, he thinks they should be.
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily on Tuesdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.