Wednesday, May 18, 2022

2008 Beijing Olympics vs 2022: No big promises this time

The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics showcased China’s resurgence on the world stage. In awarding those Games to China, the International Olympic Committee predicted that the Olympics could improve human rights, and Chinese politicians hinted at the same.

Growing promises are absent this time, with the Beijing Winter Olympics opening more than a week away amid the two-year-old pandemic.

The games are reminiscent of the rise of China, but its disregard for civil liberties, prompting a diplomatic boycott led by the United States, which has called China’s at least 1 million Uighurs genocide.

rights groups have documented Forced labour, mass detention and torture, which China calls the “lies of the century”.

With greater political, economic and military clout, China worries less about global scrutiny than it was 13 1/2 years ago. And the pandemic has given it even greater control over the Olympics, with the isolation of visiting journalists in particular, isolated in a “bubble” from the general Chinese population.

“There is nothing to ‘prove’ at this point; 2008 was a ‘coming out’ party and it all confirms what we have known for the past decade,” said Amanda, a China researcher at the University of Freiburg. Schuman wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

“If anything, there is much less pressure than in 2008,” she said. “The Chinese government is well aware that its global economic upper hand allows it to do what it wants.”

The IOC had few choices when it came to awarding China the Games or another. Six potential European candidates, led by Norway and Sweden, bowed out for political or cost reasons. Voters in two other countries – Switzerland and Germany – voted “no” in the referendum.

IOC members eventually chose Beijing over Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a close vote – 44-40. The results came on paper ballots after the IOC said there was an electronic error in the first vote. Beijing has become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach called Beijing a “safe alternative”. China spent more than $40 billion organizing the 2008 Olympics. An authoritarian state does not need voter approval to proceed.

For Kazakhstan, it was hit with mass protests and political unrest on the eve of the Olympics this month.

The IOC has allowed China to evade human rights monitoring. Starting with the 2024 Paris Olympics, cities must follow the guiding principles of the United Nations On trade and human rights. However, China was not subject to those rules when it was elected in 2015.

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“When China hosts the Olympics again, it is no longer China in 2008,” Ai Weiwei, China’s famous dissident artist, wrote in an email to The Associated Press. Ai helped design the famous Bird’s Nest Stadium – hoping it would signal a new openness – and then regretted calling it and Olympic China’s “fake smile”.

Ai was imprisoned in China in 2011 for unspecified charges and way of living in exile in Portugal. The Bird’s Nest will host the opening ceremony again on February 4.

“China today has moved further away from democracy, freedom of the press and human rights, and the reality has become even harsher,” Ai said.

Here are some examples of how China’s tone has gotten tough.

In 2008, Beijing imposed some restrictions on but allowed broadcasting from Tiananmen Square; agreed to “protest zones”, although they were never used with repeated rejections; And a year before the Games removed some reporting restrictions. It also unblocked its censored internet for journalists.

In 2022, there is less housing. The pandemic will limit journalists to a tightly sealed “bubble” though internet access. Chinese organizers warned foreign players According to an internet watchdog, any statement that goes against Chinese laws can be punished, and there are security vulnerabilities in a smartphone app widely used by athletes and journalists.

Some National Olympic Committees have advised teams and staff not to carry personal phones or laptops to Beijing. IOC, which makes billions from sponsorships and broadcast rightsseldom publicly backtrack against the Chinese organisers, who are, in fact, the Chinese government.

The changes affecting 2022 began a month after the 2008 Olympics ended when the global financial crisis hit world economies. China did the best, which – coupled with the Olympics – boosted their confidence. It also coincides with the rise of Xi Jinping, who led the 2008 Olympics and was named General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in 2012.

“Although Xi was in charge of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Winter Games are really Xi’s games,” said Xu Guoqi, who teaches history at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of “Olympic Dreams: China and Sports, 1895–2008”.

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Mary Gallagher, director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan, said the state of American democracy and its “poor pandemic response” have further excited China.

“The many US failures right now create the momentum for new nationalism and trust in China,” Gallagher said by email. “This is made more effective by the Communist Party’s tighter control over information, which can rain ‘positive energy’ on what is happening in China, while only allowing negative energy from other countries, especially the US.” Promotes accounts”

China complained in 2008 that human rights protests around Tibet had politicized the Olympics. The Olympic torch relay on a world tour met with violent protests in London and elsewhere. The IOC has not tried such a relay since then, and then-president Jacques Rogge said the protests put the Beijing Olympics in “crisis”.

China again says that the Olympics is only about sports, IOC’s Bach uses a shield even against critics. China maintains that engaging in politics is against the Olympic Charter, although China itself entered politics by boycotting the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

“Sports and politics mix,” Laura Luhrmann, a China expert at Wright State University, said in an email. “Politics is about the distribution and use of limited resources—specifically power and decision-making, as well as finances. Sport is about power and money—even if designed to glorify athletic achievement. “

Victor Cha, who served as President George W. Bush and is the author of “Beyond the Final Score – The Politics of Sport in Asia”, said that China was lamenting about politicizing the sport of others “calling the kettle black” . “

Cha, who teaches at Georgetown University, wrote last week in an essay for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “There is no country that has ignored the Olympic Charter’s mandate to keep politics out of sports more than China. “,

“As much as the world would like the Olympics to be devoid of politics, as George Orwell once wrote: ‘Sport is less shooting than war.


Associated Press Sportswriter Stephen Wade reports for the Associated Press from Beijing on the run-up to 2 1/2 years and the 2008 Olympics.


More Associated Press Winter Olympics: and


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