June 26, 2008
Who is Truly Politicising Sports?
Ever since this year's Olympic Torch commenced its journey, human rights activists, media groups and Tibet supporters throughout the world protested to draw attention to China's brutal, unjust and repressive policies. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC), however, described these protests as inappropriate to the cause of Olympics on the explicit grounds that sports and politics being two different issues should not mix.
Contrary to these claims, it is actually the Chinese regime that has been mixing politics with sports to say the least. At the time of China's bidding for Olympic host, one of the primary conditions China agreed upon was to improve the human rights situation and freedom of press in the country. However, in spite of their promises, the situation of human rights and freedom of press in China and particularly in Tibet has deteriorated further. Much so, the situation in Tibet in the aftermath of the March protests is a living proof of continuing repression and rule of terror, which has left 209 peaceful Tibetan protesters killed, thousands injured and around six thousand thrown in prisons.
As it was not enough, Chinese authorities inebriated in their arrogance and seeing its political significance, took the Olympic torch to Mount Chomo-Langma (Ch: Qomolungma) and Lhasa city despite unstable and volatile conditions there. It can be only regarded as "rubbing salt on Tibetan people's injuries" and an act to showcase its military might on the subdued Tibetan people. The solid proof to this overbearing and repressive atmosphere in Lhasa were those journalists and reporters who were allowed on a state-controlled visit to the city to cover the Torch relay.
Notwithstanding His Holiness the Dalai Lama's repeated endorsement and support to the Beijing Olympics since the beginning of China's bid to host the event, and subsequent appeals to the Tibetans not to obstruct or protest during the torch's relay in Tibet, the Chinese authorities in TAR, particularly Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party boss have made a scathing statement during the Lhasa torch relay. Zhang Qingli said, "Tibet's sky will never change and the Red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above it.... we will certainly be able to smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique". He further said that they were confident to successfully hold the Beijing Olympics by bringing social stability in Tibet and safeguarding the unity and stability of the motherland. Same day, the Vice Governor of TAR and the Lhasa City Party Secretary, Qin Yizhi had made a similar statement at the opening of the torch relay emphasising to smash the scheming of the Dalai clique to foment social disturbances, sabotage of Beijing Olympics and splitting the motherland. No one denies the fact that the Chinese authorities used this sporting event to promote their political motives behind the Olympics.
Such actions on the part of these Chinese officials are in clear violation of the Olympic charter. Therefore, as rightly raised by the Reporters without Borders with International Olympics Committee (IOC) to look into this matter seriously, the Tibetan Solidarity Committee would also like to appeal to this apex body of the world's sporting event (IOC) to reflect on these behaviours of the Chinese government with concrete actions and not just mere words of "disappointments". We hope these behaviours of Chinese government will never be repeated and IOC needs to hold accountable.
Tibetan Solidarity Committee