Ever since the riot in Lasha early last month after the arrest of some 60 monks dominated the headlines of newspapers across the globe, there is a mounting pressure from different quarters to boycott the upcoming Olympics to be held in Beijing in October. From France, the French President, Nicholas Sarkozy called for a boycott to the Games and it was echoed by his Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, who has said that the European Union should consider punishing China with a boycott of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.
Robert Meynard, the head of the Reporters without Borders, called for the same action and has urged the “world’s big democracies to find the courage” to boycott the Olympics.
On earlier occasions, too, there have been attempts to sabotage the Olympics. The boycott by many Western countries of the 1980 Moscow Olympics when the Cold War was at its height is a notable example.
Earlier, a conference held in Delhi in June last year by a group that calls itself “Friends of Tibet” focused on ways to use the upcoming Olympics to highlight the issue of “free Tibet” globally. The Beijing Olympics, many participants of the conference emphasized, was the “one chance” for the Tibetans to come out and protest. A call was issued for worldwide protests and a march of Tibetan exiles in India and Nepal to Lhasa was also announced to coincide with the opening of the Games.
Across the Atlantic, some members of the American House of Representatives submitted their formal objection to the plan by President Bush to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Beijing.
But, do we really need to boycott the Games?
I still remember in July 2006 when the Indonesian Tennis Association (Pelti) decided not to send the Indonesian Fed Cup Tennis Team to play against Israel in Tel Aviv in a protest to the Israeli government's continuing occupation of Palestine. This protest let the Israeli team to advance to the next stage of championship while the Indonesian team must suffer from the penalty by the ITF for its failure to play. Apart from the administrative penalty, the Indonesian Fed Cup team was also suspended for the whole one year from the competition. It was only last year that the Indonesian Fed Cup team could re-join the competition.
As a tennis lover, I was disappointed by the incident because the valiant effort by the Indonesian Fed Cup team to win a position in the play-off in New Delhi in 2005 had gone in vain. Politics has taken over the beauty of the game of tennis.
However, personally, I firmly understood the decision to boycott the game. Indonesians and the Indonesian government are known for their long history of support towards the Palestinian cause. Thus the atrocities conducted by the Israeli government towards the Palestinians are undeniably irresponsible and should be stopped.
A similar decision was once taken by the Indian Davis Cup team in the 1974 when they refused to play against South Africa in protest of the apartheid policy in South Africa.
But, I do not think that we have to boycott the Games. The Games is about sport and sportsmanship, no politics is allowed.
I do sympathize with the Tibetans and give my full support to their cause. But I also want to see the successful celebration of sports in the form of the Olympics. The Games must go on and we have to support the Chinese government's effort to guarantee its successful organization.
If we have to boycott the Games, we should have done it in the first place when Beijing was chosen as the host of this year's Olympics. Trying to obstruct the successful organization of the Games now is like a hypocrite who is afraid to say no when the announcement about Beijing was done and now is trying to steal the world's attention as a show of sympathy towards the Tibetans.
What about human right abuses in Iraq, in Afghanistan or in Guantanmo Bay?
I believe that Tibet is the domestic problem of China and the Chinese government is trying to solve it. As a suggestion, it is only through dialogue that the problem of Tibet could be resolved. The use of force will only heightened the hatred and rebellious attitude of the oppressed while dialogue will pave the way for peaceful solution to the problem. Putting Dalai Lama in an equal position and making him as a partner in the dialogue, I believe, will be the best way to solve the problem and the Olympics must go on.