Monday, April 7, 2008

The Olympic Torch proceed smoothly despite protests

By China Watcher

When the Olympic Torch passed London over the weekend 5-6 March 2008, Western media proclaimed loudly with headline “Arrests of anti-China protesters mar London's Olympic torch relay”. Does this really affect the spirit of the Olympic torch event? Arresting law breakers is a decent act to keep trouble makers away and how should it affect the ceremony. Why are there so many cheerful onlookers and participants? Some headlines in the local dailies could possibly be written as such, “With or without protests, the show needs to go on” or “There is no place for protests in Olympics” and, if the West truly believe in balanced reporting but unfortunately they do not, I did not get to see any of such captions. No wonder the Chinese worldwide are united in condemning the Western media prejudicial stance in openly supporting the Tibetan cause under the guise of human rights.

Not unusual

With the announcement of the Tibetan exiles and activists to disrupt the torch procession in selected locations throughout the world, it is not unusual to see protests lining the street to try to gain cheap publicity and attention.

The disruption of the movement of the Olympic flame is a clear annoyance and inconvenience to the public who waited to participate or to catch a glimpse of the historical torch. The well orchestrated protests resulted in two activists attempting to seize and extinguish the torch that peaceful Sunday morning which was a breach of public safety. The activists and Tibetan exiles have no respect for British laws and is a bane to peace in a foreign country. There were 37 arrests made and these people should be punished according to local laws but somehow the press will not report the seemingly light sentences meted out to them.

The small number of protesters claimed to be 800 was easily outnumbered by ten of thousands of people who lined the streets to enjoy the relay and carnival atmosphere. Some pro-China supporters braved the cold temperatures to voice their political opinions.

British participants

The torch was received by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at no.10 Downing Street, his official residence. Brown has brushed aside criticism of his plans to attend Beijing Olympic ceremonies, insisting it is the right thing as London does not want an Olympics that is highly politicized ahead of it being the host in 2012.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kelly Holmes took the torch from Premier League footballer Theo Walcott, and ran the last leg of the 48-kilometre route to east London's O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome), and lit a cauldron on a stage in front of the indoor stadium before the amusing crowd.

Among the other notable torch-bearers were round-the-world sailor Ellen MacArthur, tennis player Tim Henman, rugby player Kenny Logan, rower Ed Coode, cricketer Kevin Pietersen, violinist Vanessa Mae, singers the Sugababes, rugby coach Clive Woodward and heptathlete Denise Lewis.

Association of National Olympic Committees Stance

Meanwhile the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) voiced its opposition to a boycott by politicians saying that a boycott even partial will be a “serious” error. The ANOC is an organization representing 205 national Olympic committees.

Last Thursday Hein Verbruggen, who heads a team of International Olympic Council (IOC) inspectors making their last official visit to Beijing before the games criticized politicians who call for boycotts, saying the IOC is a sports organization — not a political one.

The head of the ANOC rightly puts it "The Tibetan matter is an internal issue and China will have to deploy all its ability and experience to solve its problem and nobody should use the games as a way to solve this problem".

No comments: