Thursday, 10 April 2008

Olympics- What's this all getting to ?

Sports is supposed to be a boundless inclination, without the politics and all the baggage that comes with it. But for the second time this year, I find myself writing about it.
Beijing authorities had thought that the Olympic torch doing its trips around the world as it waits its grand arrival in China but that's not been the case. Except for the warm reception at its only stop in Africa in Tanzania, the torch seems to 'light up' the path its set to cover in the next few months. Starting in parts of Europe and encountering some of the most hostile crowds ever ( a demonstrator in Britain even tried to put it off, which would be a PR disaster for both the IOC and Chinese authorities).
But while the IOC chief Jacques Rogge tries doing some rather pale job insisting that the Olympics will bounce back. But what has been seen in France, UK and now US is not very good coming into the last 3 months before the Games. What shocked me was reading an item about plots to hijack or even sabotage the Games once they start at Beijing. Some say where there's smoke, there's fire.
I won't dwell on the Tibetan case, I think the human rights activists are doing their job( some of whom are worse than the rights they try to defend). But the Chinese badly need a better PR team and need to put their act together soonest possible, or else they'll host a sham of the Games.
With the crisis in Kenya and one threatening to explode in Zimbabwe , does it bother Africans that we seem to be just pawns on the world board ? What do I mean ? Why does it have to take 'foreign' intervention (foreign here being US, UK and other European countries) for some of the issues to be resolved ? What happened to home-grown, indigenous, independence ? I heard Bush say the way China needs to engage in dialogue with the Dalai Lama- spiritual leader of the Tibetans....does it sound familiar ?

Update on Torch Relay:
Apparently I seem to have reported too early. First the Torch will make 3 stops in Africa, Egypt, Tanzania and South Africa.
Secondly the torch seems to have gotten more controversies as an expected participant, Kenya's Nobel Laureate Wangari Mathaai boycotted the Relay as protests against environmental concerns raised in some of China's cities and Beijing in particular. She's advocating for what she called "Green Olympics". She also said she is joining other protesters in solidarity opposing Chinese oppression of the Myanmar, Tibet and to some extent Darfur region in Southern Sudan.
Incidentally, UN Habitat's Anna Tibaijuka said the relay acts as a symbol of peace and as such the Tanzanians will not engage in what other countries have engaged in. Their President, one Jakaya Kikwete also happens to be on a 4-day trip to China. Tanzania happens to be one of China's and other Asian countries key allies. This trip might save the authorities the blushes of the last 2 weeks .

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