Wow. When I began writing this post, in response to this one by Gagan, I had a short, pithy little one in mind. Instead, I wound up with a list as long as my arm. Consider this: in the past few months alone the following events have taken place around the upcoming Beijing Olympics –
Event: Steven Spielberg says goodbye and no-thank-you to the Beijing Olympics.
Cause: Spielberg signed on in an advisory capacity for the Olympics to do… sport-type things? Maybe he was hoping to tie in the latest Indiana Jones installment with it. However! Stern editorials from the likes of Mia Farrow casting him as the Leni Reifenstahl of our age (oh, snap!) made him bow out at the nth hour.
Effect: The Genocide Olympics, as Farrow calls it, will take place. But Steven “ulterior motives” Spielberg shouldn’t apply for a shooting permit in China anytime soon.
Event: Desmond Tutu to join boycott.
Cause: China’s support to Burma’s military regime. Remember how everyone was so outraged when the monks were being beaten up and democracy strangled? Here’s what happened to the campaign against it when you weren’t looking.
Effect: What is this word? I do not understand it.
Event: George Clooney, Don Cheadle, Joey Cheek and Tegla Loroupe among others went on a diplomatic mission to discuss Darfur with Chinese leaders.
Cause: Clooney and Cheadle are leading members in the battle to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. While Sudan doesn’t have any major links with America (thus making the threat of sanctions an empty one), China is their major client for oil, their arms supplier and their ally in the UN Security Council. The one, two punch Hollywood + Olympic athletes delegation was meant to remind them that with superpowers come super responsibilities.
Effect: “Oh, yes! Batman and Robin, very funnee movie! Goodbye, come again!”
Event: Nobel laureates publish letter in British newspaper, The Guardian.
Cause: Sign the treaty that Russia and the US refuse to sign! What is it? Well, it was
a British-championed resolution setting out a timetable for the creation of a legally binding treaty on the sale of weapons. The resolution says: “The absence of common international standards on the import, export and transfer of conventional arms is a contributory factor to conflict, displacement of people, crime and terrorism.”
Effect: Um, yeah.
Event: Are you done with all this wearying genocide in Africa talk? Well, good, because now we can talk about the environment.
Cause: The Olympics are occasionally about sport, so heads turned when the very air registered a protest. Turns out, breathing the air in Beijing resembles asphyxiation, it might well rain unless China brings its super powers into play and controls the freaking weather, and what little water there is to drink in the city might very well kill you.
Event: Want a little man candy to leaven things up? Okay – George Clooney leans on Olympics sponsor Omega.
Cause: Clooney is brand ambassador for Omega, Omega is official sponsor for the Beijing Olympics, Beijing told Clooney to run along and play, Clooney sicced Omega on them.
Effect: Omega is very concerned and likes the fact that its brand ambassador has high standards but sport is a “noble endeavor” that creates “understanding and peace all over the world” so saying anything to China would be… how does one put it? Ah yes, impossible. Wow, that came as a complete surprise to me.
Event: Masahisa Tsujitani, a short put manufacturer whose short puts were used in the past three summer Olympics, boycotts Beijing.
Cause: He didn’t like Chinese crowd behavior at the 2004 Soccer Asia Cup. For reals.
Effect: You’ll just have to live with another brand of short put. You’ve been warned!
Event: Everybody gets mad about Tibet!
Cause: If you don’t know about the China-Tibet tensions then you obviously never listen to more news than you can help. China accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting civil unrest in Tibet or Chinese territory as they call it, Richard Gere jumped in to defend his honor, Nancy Pelosi thumbed her nose at the Chinese and the Indian government told the Dalai Lama to shut up, thus shocking many well-meaning Indians who don’t seem to get the fact that India is walking a very fine line that it will never cross as long as Kashmir remains in dispute.
Effect: China says this is the work of the Dalai clique to stop the Olympics. The ordinary Chinese, on the other hand, want to know why their government isn’t more aggressive. Nicholas Krsitof uses the word “wimpish“.
Event: The Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions raised an outcry about the 1.5 million people it estimates will be displaced by China’s plans for Beijing.
Cause: Wikipedia says –
The Beijing municipal authority has declared that more than 70 local laws and decrees would be made before the 2008 Summer Olympics which would banish local people who don’t have hukou (residency permits) of Beijing. It would also banish vagrants, beggars, and people with mental illness from the city. The municipal authority also made it clear that it would strengthen border control, call for a “special holiday”, or forcible shutout, to make Beijing citizens stay at home during the Olympics. It also seeks to strengthen controls over Chinese and foreign NGOs and forbid any protests during the games. The government has also strengthened its laws relating to prosecution of those deemed to be disseminating material not beneficial to the state.
Oh, and if you’re Chinese and you use any of the brand new toilets before the visitors have had a chance to use them, you’ll have to pay a fine between 100 to 500 yuan. Coz the Chinese are apparently not hygienic enough for their own toilets.
Effect: First of all, WTF?! Secondly, uh, I don’t really think anybody other than the Chinese themselves can stop any of that from happening. And good luck with that!
Event: Uighur uprising.
Cause: Religious freedom. As in, they say they don’t have any. China begs to differ. Impasse.
Effect: I’m surprised we even heard about this one.
Overall Event: A bunch of people, including Angela Merkel and the Japanese Royal family, have excused themselves from attending the opening ceremony. More are expected to join. Or not. People are still mulling it over.
Overall Cause: Nobody likes China. But it has lots of money.
Excuse me, but – BWAHAHAAHA!!! The Chinese ought to write a book on how best to raise the middle finger. But the question is: what will they do if these protests break out in the middle of the Games? Or do they propose to pen up the Uighurs and the Tibetans and the foreign journalists and the visitors until everything gets over? That should be interesting. And it would truly be an Olympics unlike any other.