On the Olympics, and Speech, and Tibet
I don't want to get into whether the United States should or should not boycott the Olympics in China. If my country decides to boycott the Olympics, then that's fine. If not, that's fine too. Just don't try and split the baby by only boycotting the opening ceremony. That's weak sauce.
No, the purpose of this post is to muse on the protests that are taking place around the torch relay. And furthermore, how the Chinese government is sending out signals that any athlete that says something about China, or Tibet, or whatever, is going to face repercussions.
This is not surprising. Only a year ago, when RSL played the Chinese National Team, there were some pretty cravenly actions taken by both the stadium staff and others to kick out Tibetan protesters. You can probably read about it in the archives of this blog. And once again, with our team qualifying for the Olympics, the situation may rise again.
Here's what I want to say. Let's say there's no boycott (and there really doesn't seem to be the spine for one right now). Then I hope the US Olympic team goes to China, and plays well. I hope they medal. But even if they don't, I hope one of them scores a goal, and has the courage to unveil a Free Tibet T-Shirt under his kit. I know that US Soccer may not like it. I know that even some US citizens may not like it, or feel that the United States and its citizens have little grounds to criticize any other country. I have a nuanced response to those people, but I'll just summarize it as "Whatever - hypocrisy is not the worst vice." The situation is the one the US U23 team is faced with, and an act of free speech in a land not known for one would make me prouder than a gold. I don't think it will happen. I'm sure the players will be lectured to no end about being "good guests." Screw it. I want it to happen. And if a player, or the US fans who make it to China manage to say something, it will be a small victory in a world that seems very dark most days.