Thank You, China!

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The first Olympics I can remember is one that didn’t exist. It was the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow and President Jimmy Carter made the ultimatum that if the Russians didn’t leave Afghanistan than the United States would lead a boycott of the Olympic Games. Moscow didn’t leave and 61 countries, including the Unites States, didn’t send athletes to the 1980 Olympics.

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to train like these Olympians train, to want something so badly that you sacrifice almost everything to get there… and politics takes it away.

What I think I loved the most about the Beijing Olympics is that if there was a cause for boycott the human rights record of China could have supplied it, however, they let the Olympics be about the athletes, about the sports, about what it takes to be an Olympian.

It wasn’t about capitalists, communists, socialists, or any other “ists.” For sixteen days they showed the world, for the first time, just how amazing they can be. We were able to set aside the difference in our politics and see China just as it should have been seen, as another country on Earth filled with people. People that love, people that have faith, people that want the same things in life we want. They showed us their humanity, their inspiration, and their pageantry.

What if we really did boycott the Beijing Games? The world would have missed out on Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Shawn Johnson, and the most humble USA Men’s Basketball team ever. We would have never seen the 39 year old Romanian runner who won the women’s marathon by the hugest lead ever in the Olympics, and the 33 year old Bronze medalist in gymnastics women’s vault event, and 41 year old mother Dara Torres who got a silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle.

Athletes from all over the world aren’t just doing a sport; they are baring their souls for something they love. They are letting a lifetime of challenge be exhibited on the world stage and it should be free of politics.

China showed us that we can have 204 countries participate harmoniously for sixteen magical days.

Thank you China, it was amazing from start to finish.

UPDATED Aug 26, 2008

What I love and respect most about blogging is getting the opinions of other people, especially people that I adore and respect. As you can see from the comments below not everyone shares my love of the Beijing Olympics… with good reason. Instead of answering individually this update if for all.

Beijing and the rest of the world found out that they would host the Olympic Games back in 2001. What were the exact conditions? I know I don’t know. What I do know is that the Olympic Committee which is comprised of a huge conglomeration of people voted to have Beijing be the host city. This is no small affair as usually a very large number of countries bid for the Games with multiple cities. Some, like Turkey, vow to submit at every opportunity for the games.

After the countries have submitted their bids they are subject to a vote and some are eliminated right away with low scores while the others go through an arduous process of stadium funding and many other things. Once all the math is worked out they vote again and a host city is selected.

After this process if the people of the world and the people of the International Olympic Committee are aware of the civil injustices AND they still grant them the Olympic Games then IT SHOULD NEVER AFFECT THE ATHLETES.

I completely understand all of you and I am a champion of human rights especially on the world stage so the IOC and the voting factions should immediately deem ineligible any country where the human rights record is atrocious. But remember… Chicago is on the short list for 2016 and with our superlong and really ridiculous occupation of the middle east… many would perceive us to be ineligible too.

For many the Olympics is a once in a lifetime shot and I will stand behind their ability to have that shot free of politics.

Thank you guys for a lovely debate!!

About the Author

Regina Foster Bartlett is a mother of two teenagers who recently married her soulmate and believes her favorite wedding gift was the addition of four stepchildren and four grandchildren! She’s a confessed tech-nerd who loves all things social media. She’s also a published freelance writer and she’s been blogging since before blogging was cool. She's the voice behind the radio broadcast and writer behind this blog. Always on the lookout for interesting stories she can be reached by emailing: regina@reginasuniverse.com or using the Contact form by clicking the link above.