Watching the Olympic Torch procession through London today I was struck by the number of protesters. Again and again over the 31 mile route people either stood and shouted their protest over China's presence in Tibet and their appalling human rights record, or even attempted to hijack the torch itself.
As I watched the protests the question that came into my mind more than any other was:
Why was China given the Olympic Games ?
Did the Olympic Committee really think that the presence of the Games would make the ruling powers see the error of their ways ? Did they really think that the honour of holding the Games would change the way China does business ?
There are calls for the athletes to boycott the Olympic Games. My thought is that whilst countries all over the world continue to do business with the Chinese Government, continue to bury their heads in the sand whilst people in China and Tibet die or are tortured, then why should athletes alone make a stand ? The boycotts of the Moscow and Los Angeles Games did little other than threaten the Olympic movement itself. What really needs to be done is for the world to sit up and acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Chinese Government.
I will never forget the image of student Wang Weilin standing alone before a tank in the Tianenmin Square protests. The courage of those Chinese students was incredible and yet the world sat back and did nothing as they were massacred. And still, 20 years later, we sit and watch as the same thing continues. How many people have to be killed before world leaders pay more than lip service ? And why was this country given the honour of holding the Olympic Games ?
The people who protested today were right to do so. In this country we are proud that they can do so. If they had tried to protest in China ? Tonight they would be dead like so many others. It is not the protesters who are at fault, but the Chinese Government and the governments of the west for doing nothing to help.
There. Rant over.