Never Again

Dr. Malcolm Cross

The 2022 Winter Olympics have come and gone.  If the International Olympic Committee wants to absolve itself and the Olympics of justifiable charges of moral bankruptcy, it should implement reforms to deprive oppressive regimes of the opportunity to either host or participate in the Olympics in the future.

I watched “not one minute” of the “Genocide Games,” to quote the hashtags widely used by those who shared my disgust for this year’s Olympics.  Of course our refusal to watch the Olympics did nothing to ease the persecution of the Uyghurs, the oppression of Tibet and Hong Kong, or the threat of a military takeover of Taiwan.  But we non-viewers at least kept NBC’s television ratings at an all-time low.  One hopes this will hurt NBC and its corrupt corporate sponsors—especially those which criticize the policies of American states for their anti-abortion policies or their bathroom bills while tolerating anti-Uyghur genocide–where it hurts in the only place that matters to them:  The bottom line.

Of course, the Olympics should never have been held in China in the first place, or in any other country oppressing people to the extent that China or Russia does now, or that Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union once did.  As I noted in a previous column on the subject, the IOC has long maintained it will pass no judgment on the political systems of host countries because the Olympic movement is allegedly nonpolitical.  but to allow a country to host the Olympics is commonly interpreted as endorsing, or at least accepting, its political system.  For that reason Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union both craved and promoted the Olympics as proof of worldwide acceptance of their regimes, as did China in seeking and winning the Olympics of 2008 and 2022.  

A number of reforms to reduce the chances that the Olympics will be used burnish the reputation of totalitarian regimes in the future have been suggested and should be taken seriously.  For example:

Rather than rotate the sites of the Olympics among the different nations of the world and risk their assignment to unsavory regimes, permanent sites for the summer and winter games should be established.  The summer games could be held in special facilities in Athens to honor Greece as the birthplace of both democracy and the ancient Olympics which inspired the modern games.  Winter games could be headquartered in Switzerland or Sweden, both of which are stable democracies with long records of peace and neutrality in international affairs.  

If the International Olympic Committee wants to keep assigning the Olympics to different cities and countries as it’s done since the founding of the modern Olympic movement, it should nevertheless limit future hosting opportunities to nations whose policies are consistent with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Those nations in violation of the UDHR should not be eligible to host the games until they abandon their oppressive policies.

And no nation in violation of the UDHR should be allowed to send a team to compete under its own banner.  Perhaps there may be circumstances under which individual athletes not responsible for their governments’ abuses could be allowed to participate under the Olympic flag.  But no nation in violation of the UDHR should be allowed the honor of participation.

Would these measures, if implemented, reduce the sum total of evil in the world?  Maybe not.  Evil has its own dynamic.  But their implementation would at least partially redeem the Olympic Movement and its corporate sponsors from its shameful kowtowing to the practitioners of Nazism, communism, imperialism, and genocide in the past, and reduce the chances of future collaboration with, and appeasement of, evil doers as well. 

Malcolm L. Cross has lived in Stephenville and taught politics and government at Tarleton since 1987. His political and civic activities include service on the Stephenville City Council (2000-2014) and on the Erath County Republican Executive Committee (1990 to the present).  He was Mayor Pro Tem of Stephenville from 2008 to 2014.  He is a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and the Stephenville Rotary Club, and does volunteer work for the Boy Scouts of America. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole.

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