I suppose it was inevitable. Events in Tibet have sparked calls for a boycott of the Olympics. Hans-Gert Poettering, the president of the European Parliament is speculating aloud about the possibility – and the parliament is due to debate Tibet later in the week.
Personally, I think it was a mistake to give the Olympics to China. It was inevitable that they would be used for political purposes, to bolster the Chinese government’s legitimacy and to herald China’s arrival as an international player. And I think its always preferable to hold the games somewhere small, rich and sunny – and without aspirations to global leadership: Barcelona and Sydney were perfect.
But now that the Chinese have been awarded the games, I think it would be an even bigger mistake to boycott them. Much as the West would insist that the boycott was aimed only at the Chinese government, it would be both portrayed and percieved as an insult aimed at the entire Chinese people. The great task of international relations over the next generation is going to be managing the rise of China. Picking symbolic fights – and so whipping up Chinese nationalism – is the wrong way to go about things, I think. Read more