Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Olympics: China has every right to revoke visas, after all this is within a country’s prerogative

By China Watcher

As usual, the West is irritated by the decision of the Chinese government to reject the visa of a US speed skating champion who intends to travel to China to support the US athletes and their participation in the Beijing Games.

Joey Cheek is no ordinary athlete. He is the founder of Team Darfur, a group of 70 athletes whose goal it is to raise global awareness of the human-rights violations taking part in the Darfur region of Sudan. But his role was well publicized and he was a strong critic of China and blame China’s squarely on the mess that is happening in the poverty stricken region.

What was Mr. Cheek’s intention to travel to Beijing? Is he there to support just the participants or is he a trouble maker to cause further embarrassment to the Chinese host? A person of his statute should know very well that his name had been blacklisted by the Chinese government. Why is he still trying his luck to secure a visa to travel to the host country? I guess only the applicant and his peers would know the answer.

Let me point out here that it is always the prerogative of the destination country to allow or disallow a person into their country based on the country’s laws. And Chinese laws state very clearly that any person who is or deem to be detrimental to the security interest of the country will be barred from the country. In the Chinese eyes, Mr. Cheek is nuisance and an irritant to Chinese societies.

Even the US had its own laws allowing people who are deemed to be a nuisance to the society. Recently, the US refused a visa to Ms, Amy Winehouse, a British singer, to attend an award ceremony due to her highly publicized involvement with drugs and entanglements with the authorities over her outrageous behavior.

Mr. Cheek unashamedly read out a text after he was not given a visa:

"I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.”

The Olympics is a sporting event and it should not be politicized but from his statement the intentions are no more dubious or vague, and he wanted to create the political forum to achieve his cause. Sports and politics should be kept apart otherwise the genuine spirit to contest and win for a country would lose the glamour or the original objective it was intended for.

I was amazed to read a comment from an unhappy netizen from the US who commented the US should boycott the Games because of all these unhappiness over human rights abuses and freedom of speech in China. Whose liberal standards are you using? The US hypocritical standards? Why must the world follow the US or Western standards? These are immature statements coming from a developed nation. Boycotting would not solve the larger issue. If the US hosts the Olympics in the future, China can also do likewise. Two can play the same game, right?

I have no sympathy for Mr. Cheek. China did the right thing. Keep the troublemakers out. Cheers.

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