I Have a Bad Feeling About This

Usually, I LOVE the Olympics, but these upcoming games have me worried. I stuck up for the Olympics when activists in different countries were protesting the running of the Olympic flame, saying that politics should be left behind. But the closer and closer these games get, the more I realize that it was a horrible idea to give these games to China. It makes me upset that the spirit of the games is marred by the actions of the host country trying to show their supremacy and power.

One thing is the censoring of the internet for the media - something that China had said before that they would allow. Later, they said that they would relent and allow more internet access to restricted sites - but not all. Next is how horrible the air is in China - athletes are staying in neighboring countries because the air is so bad. It’s come to the point where sporting events lasting more than an hour (like the marathon) could get canceled if the air is poor. Can you imagine? You train your whole life, travel around the world running marathons, then cannot race because China never bothered in the past to care about vehicle and factory emissions.

joey cheekWhat sparked this post today is the latest in this clusterfrak that is 8.8.08 - the 2006 Winter Olympics golden boy (and all-round good guy), Joey Cheek, has been denied a Visa. In 2006 Joey made headlines by donating his medal winnings , about $40,000, to Right to Play, an organization that promotes sports to children in Darfur. He’s one of the reasons why the Olympics are as awesome as they are, and to me, embody everything that the Olympics stand for. He skated for the joy of it, for the competition with his peers, and not for the money, but along the way, made the world aware of the struggle of the people of Darfur.

He was planning on attending the Olympics to support other athletes who are part of his organization, others who also support efforts in Darfur. Unfortunately for Joey, China has ties to Sudan and Darfur, and not the side that he’s on.

Read more about it here.

But he’s not the only one having problems with visas. Even foreigners who are living and working in China are having problems with their visas - many of them having to leave China because of the tight visa restrictions. Hotels are fighting each other for travelers, since China’s visa restrictions are so tough, no one is coming to China to actually watch the games.

It’s all a little sad - these games should be about a celebration of sports and competition, but instead is becoming a hotbed of ill feelings and politics. China is working so hard to make themselves look good and keep their games safe according to their standards, but I’m afraid that it may all backfire on them, with the losers being the athletes themselves.

update: The US is going to protest Joey’s visa denial:

“We have sent in our embassy in Beijing to demarche the Chinese. That is where we go in and say we are concerned about this and we want you to reconsider your actions. We would hope that they would change their mind.”

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2008-08-06 13:48:10

Melinda says

About six years ago, my family and I visited China. (my sister was living in SE Asia at the time.) I still can’t believe the way that the Chinese government behaves, and that they were allowed to host the Olympics. They’re trying to put up this totally fake, western-friendly “face” for the Olympics. But it’s all a bunch of lies. They have a church in the olympic village- but they’re still persecuting and killing Christians throughout the country. What about all the houses that were torn down to make room for the olympic village? They didn’t even offer money to the homeowners- just, “tough luck, the government wants to tear your house down”. Now they’re bringing this whole political mess into it, denying visas to perfectly safe visitors.

And that’s not even considering the number of athletes who will be wearing MASKS just so that they can breathe during the competition. Grrr…

2008-08-09 04:45:38

Steph says

It looks like your feeling is coming true, in ever worse ways than revoking visas and being chastised for wearing masks. I just checked the news, and 2 Americans were attacked this morning in Beijing, one of them killed. Granted, the Chinese Gov’t has nothing to do with it, I’m sure, but this was a place that was supposed to be EXTRA secure, and it wasn’t even an Olympic venue. It was the Drum Tower, one of the few ancient structures left in Beijing…a regular tourist attraction. It’s not like no one knew people wouldn’t be there. It’s so sad. Apparently, they were relatives of the US Men’s Volleyball coach. Let’s just hope and pray this is a fluke, not the beginning of a trend.


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