Well the Olympic flame has arrived in Canberra for the Australian leg of the torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Whether or not that also means that trouble and rowdy protests will overshadow the event remains to be seen, but it has certainly been the case elsewhere in this relay. Around the world, protestors have disrupted the relay, and regardless of the validity of their concerns, have in some cases taken their protests too far.
The so called Olympic Spirit is one of peace, harmony and goodwill. It’s a bit like the Christmas spirit… it only exists if we all believe in it and work to make it happen. Instead, at every stage around the world the torch relay has been dogged by excessive protests, draconian security, and a disconnection with ordinary people. In some ways, it might have been better not to have the relay at all. But of course that would be an admission by all concerned that the Olympic Dream did not extend to the people and government of China, who have after all accepted the honour of hosting the games.
What should be a proud moment for China has become an embarrassment, but ironically the more the Chinese authorities seek to defend the flame using attendants described as “thugs”, the more obvious it becomes that they have missed the point. Rather than defending the “Dream”, they themselves serve to devalue it. It is also clear that they simply don’t understand the concern that people around the world have for Tibet.
Despite the tremendous progress made by China it still remains a totalitarian communist regime. So for those who want to believe in the Olympic Spirit the question is this: are the ideals of peace, harmony and goodwill best served by supporting the torch relay as it passes briefly through our nation, or by protesting against it?
Right or wrong, the International Olympic Committee made its choice a long time ago when it awarded the games to China.