Should we mix sports and politics?
The core of the Olympic ideal is to unite humanity and to avoid division due to political or other discrepancies. We agree about this. The Olympic Charter says: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.” 1. This declaration is made to ensure that the Games are carried out on a sheer athletic basis. We also agree about this point. However, the mixture of sport and politics is already a fact, when the Olympic Committee chooses to arrange the Games in a country with a reputation of extensive violations of the human rights. Under the pretext that the Games should be apolitical, the regime gets an opportunity of promoting itself for billions of TV viewers as a modern and well functioning society without contradiction.
The Olympic Charter emphasizes as fundamental Olympic principles “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” and “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity”2. But can anybody properly claim that the Chinese government complies with these ideals? – We view the use of the Color Orange as an ethical and apolitical statement in essential unison with the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement.
Hence it is important and completely legitimate that critics of China’s human rights policy make a common effort to send out a signal “there’s something wrong in China, and we know it”. This is the only way to secure politically balanced Olympic Games where the sportspeople’s great achievements are not abused as political propaganda by a repressive dictatorship.