In times past, I would get quite excited about the Summer Olympics. You see, I was a serious and successful distance runner from ages 14 to 18 and followed Track and Field closely. (FWIW, best times: 9:38 2 mile and 4:24 1 mile if my memory is correct.)
During my running years, my ambition was to win gold in the Olympics. My eye was on the 1500 meter at first. But when it became clear that my talent lie in longer distances, I dreamed of winning the Marathon, and I worked hard toward that dream, running more than 100 miles a week one summer (which in hindsight was overdoing it and hastened the end of my running career).
I say all this to provide some background to my attitude about the China Olympics, which is not very positive. I’ve long been disgusted that a country with the poor human rights and downright evil foreign policy record of China got the Olympics. I rooted for those protesting the torch relay. And, if I watch the Olympics, I’ll be rooting for any protests that might crop up. Yes, there are a couple athletic stories I find interesting. But even in that area of actual athletics, I don’t find this Olympics as interesting as in the past. I won’t be watching much.
But how should the U. S. government respond? Although I think it highly inappropriate that President Bush will attend the opening ceremonies, I think a boycott would have been a bad idea. But then I think the 1980 Moscow Olympic boycott was a bad idea . . . even though it had the wonderful result of the Soviet Union retaliating by boycotting the 1984 L. A. Olympics – an Olympics free of Soviet cheating was very refreshing!
I did and still do look at it from the viewpoint of the athlete. To train and look forward to the Olympics and then have that taken away would be devastating. There are surely better ways to protest than at the expense of the athletes.
If I were an Olympian today? I would go to China, but skirt the rules and protest, perhaps with tattoos or patches saying “Free Tibet.” I would go to the Olympics, protest, and compete. If that got me kicked out of the games, then so be it. To be so kicked out of these sorry Olympics would be an honor perhaps greater than a gold medal.
And I do consider the awarding of these Olympics to China sorry. I hope they are a big flop and an embarrassment to that evil regime.