Thursday, 14 August 2008

We saw the Opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics start with goose-stepping troops and children forced to salute their flag with raised arms more reminiscent of Berlin in 1936 than Athens or Sydney. Whilst others saw a new hope for the Chinese people, I saw a massively regulated society where even the small girl singing the opening anthem was replace because she was not pretty enough!

The smog that covers China is not just atmospheric pollution. A climate of fear and repression is the cause of widespread protest across China. The violent suppression of Tibetan dissidents has been sheathed in a smog of secrecy by Chinese officials, scared that the world will see the true totalitarian nature of the Chinese regime and its illegal occupation of Tibet. The brave attempts by British and other foreign students to highlight the underlying hypocrisy of the Beijing Olympics has led to their swift arrest. Japanese journalists wishing to report on the violence in Xinjiang province have been arrested and beaten.

Even the designer of the Olympic stadium in Beijing, Ai Weiwei, has denounced China as a “Police State.” He claims that the Government in China is using the “terrorist threat” as an excuse to strengthen its power, an excuse we are familiar with in Britain.

The health of every athlete at the Chinese Olympics is at risk. The risk is not just to their physical health, though with heavy pollution and gun-toting paramilitaries, that risk is very real. Their moral health is also at risk in tacitly supporting such a repressive regime. Would these same athletes had gone if the Olympics had been staged in Zimbabwe, for instance?

All British athletes should return home and the British public should boycott the TV broadcasts. The Olympic Games in Beijing is a circus being exploited for international kudos by the most repressive regime in modern history. A boycott even at this stage would tell the world that, despite their Government, the British people have principles for which they are willing to make sacrifices. So, I call on people in Yorkshire and the Humber not to watch the Olympics, but show your support for sport by going for a run (or walk) in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales instead.