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Canada should boycott the Olympics

By Archives April 1, 2008

Hopefuls for the Beijing Olympics are concerned about the escalating violence in Tibet. There have been thousands of demonstrators at Parliament Hill over the past few weeks, but is protesting in Ottawa really helping the situation in Tibet?
The Prime Minister spoke out against the violence that is occurring but has been clear that Canada will not be withdrawing as a country in the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
That’s understandable, as Olympic level athletes survive on things like grants that come from participating in the Games.
The Olympic torch was lit on Monday, March 24 in Athens. One of the six Thai torchbearers has already resigned in protest. Police were at a heightened level of security around the area of the torch, and still violence occurred.
It has been rumored that top-level athletes refuse to participate as a stand against the violence. It is becoming a personal struggle for many individuals faced with the decision to withdraw based on personal morals and values.
As of now, an estimated 150 protestors have been killed in the past week. There is very little coverage giving clear, specific details about the situation, only speculation. What does this lack of information mean for Canada and the Canadian athletes that are faced with a moral dilemma?
The student activists are out in full force, making sure Concordia students and students in general are informed of the events occurring. There are few major news sources that are as informed as Students For a Free Tibet, who has had people from the organization in China and Greece all week.
“Students for Free Tibet is very concerned about the situation. We think it’s totally unacceptable when people are accosted for peaceful protesting, in Tibet and in Greece,” said Chris Shwartz, the co-founder of the Concordia chapter of Students For a Free Tibet.
So we are walking around Tibet, trying to get our point across in a solid, acceptable, peaceful manner and they are throwing the military at us.
Now I may not know the whole story, but that isn’t even my fault! If there weren’t a partial media ban, I would probably have a more educated view on what is happening. Luckily, Shwartz was able to give me a more realistic idea, but not everyone will have that opportunity.
The media ban has been somewhat lifted, but people getting a story this big delivered to them in a way that is so unclear, does not look good before an event as big as the Olympics.
At the same time, we are playing into the hands of the Chinese government by giving them more and more publicity surrounding the topic. So is it better that we make people aware of the situation or are we screwing up by featuring them in the news, day after day?
Students and adults alike have been joining together all week, all over the world in peaceful ways, continuing to educate the public about the violence that occurs.
“We believe in non-violent protests and this was not initiated by the Tibetans, but initiated by the Chinese military. It is saying something when the military is released into the streets, amongst a non-violent, peaceful protest. It’s completely unacceptable,” said Shwartz. He’s right.
Something as prestigious and popular as the Olympics, something that represents athletes and countries from all over the world, bringing people together, should not be held in a place currently known for its violence.
“Its obvious we are not getting a clear picture of what is going on, especially with the international journalists being banned from the situation in Tibet,” explained Shwartz.
The events that have already passed in Lhasa have had massive repercussions worldwide. Canadian athlete’s have not been urged by our government to withdraw from the Olympics this summer, yet who knows what kind of a decision will be reached on the violent situation in China by the times the Olympics roll around?
Students for a Free Tibet are in agreement with the PM, stating that they do not feel we should be pulling out of the Olympics.
Perhaps we should consider pulling our athletes out of opening ceremonies at the very least. It’s hard for athletes that are part of a team and I understand that they don’t want to let teammates down. But I feel like some kind of stand has to be made in order to put this violence to an end.

To find out more about the situation in Tibet and what you can do to keep educated, check out www.studentsforafreetibet.org