China will be China despite the Olympics - opinion

The Western world has a complicated relationship with China hosting the Winter Olympics considering its human rights records.

 The Beijing Olympic Tower is pictured ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
The Beijing Olympic Tower is pictured ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

For the Western world, almost everything involving China is complicated, problematic and political. So, to ask a rhetorical question, why would these Olympic Winter Games be any different?

The United States (US) is boycotting the Olympic Winter Games, citing China’s abysmal human rights record. However, is the US really boycotting the Olympic Games?

The US is calling it a diplomatic boycott and several other nations have joined their bandwagon. It’s a charade that China sees through and that China is very much enjoying. As defined by the US, this diplomatic boycott means that while US athletes will be competing, US diplomats that normally attend Olympic Games will not be in attendance.

So why is China laughing?

According to the Chinese, the US might have said that they were not sending diplomats, but China was asked to issue a great number of diplomatic credentials to the US. Oh, said the US – those diplomats are only there to protect our athletes.

A man is reflected in a mirror as he walks past the logo of the Beijing 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China, November 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)A man is reflected in a mirror as he walks past the logo of the Beijing 2022 Olympics in Beijing, China, November 30, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/THOMAS PETER)

It’s okay, you can laugh too. Remember: It’s all about diplomacy.

Now we are a bit smarter and all know that diplomats are part of the Olympics. It makes sense, diplomats are always (ahem, ahem) playing their own kind of games.

Relative to the Summer Olympic Games, the Winter Games have been lackluster events. The International Olympic Committee understands this issue and is distressed over the discrepancy between viewer and commercial interest in the Olympic Games. They have been trying to address the issue since 1994.

Maybe if people knew the history of the Olympic Games, they might be more drawn to the Winter Olympics.

The story of the Olympic Games probably begins in 776 BCE. The name of the Games, Olympic, is derived from Olympia, a location. Olympia is where the temple of the Greek god Zeus was located, it is where the city states came to pay tribute and to honor Zeus.

Parenthetically, the idea of an Olympics is as pagan as pagan can be. And that is why, in 1932, Zionists ideologues created a Jewish Olympics, a Jewish sports competition called the Maccabiah Games. 18 countries and 400 proud Jewish athletes came to Tel Aviv to participate in the events. Athletes from pre-state of Israel; however, did not have to be Jewish to participate in the Maccabiah Games. Again, now we are all a bit smarter.

The modern International Olympics began in 1896 in Athens with 14 countries, 241 athletes and 43 events. It was decided that the Olympic Games would take place every four years. They took place in the summer. In 1908, the Olympic Games included skating. In 1920, there was ice skating and hockey but maintaining the ice was impossible.

Soon after, a decision was made to have the Olympic Games in the winter, as well. The first Olympic Winter Games took place in 1924. Unlike today’s Olympic Games, it was originally decided that the same country would host the Olympic Winter Games and the Olympic Summer Games, and to host them in the same year.

That tradition continued until 1994, when the decision was made that the Olympic Winter Games would take place two years after the Olympic Summer Games and they would be hosted in different countries.

Olympic Games, winter and summer, are as much about athletics as they are about business. Hosts of the Olympic Games invest huge amounts of money in the hope of making much more money and in generating good public relations, including tourism, for their country. For example, the Olympic Summer Games that were held in China in 2008 cost the Chinese government $44 b. to create the necessary sports infrastructure. In 2014, Russia spent over $51 b. in Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Both China and Russia hoped that the Olympic Games would help improve their image.

Adolf Hitler had the very same hopes when the Olympic Games came to Berlin in 1936.

The 1932 Summer Olympics were held in Los Angeles. Hitler wanted to prove that he was superior to the US, so he built a huge Colosseum in Berlin, so huge that it could seat 100,000 people. The 1936 Olympic Games was the first televised Olympic Games. It was also broadcast by radio to 41 countries. The Nazis commissioned Leni Riefenstahl to film the Olympic Games. The movie was called Olympia and was, of course, a Nazi propaganda film. However, the style and techniques that Leni Riefenstahl pioneered were so sensational that her film is still a foundation for filming sporting events until this very day.

Fast forward to today, China is hoping to use these Winter Olympic Games to change the country’s negative image. They have set themselves a difficult task.

Western broadcasters and viewers are all too aware of China’s record of human rights abuses. No one can be fooled. While China may want to put their best diplomatic foot forward, the Chinese do not intend to change their human rights policy. They just want good public relations and to look better.

COVID-19 doesn’t help either. Photos emanating from the Olympic Games are of sterile and sterilized surroundings.

In the end, those who watch the Olympic Games will be amazed and mesmerized by the athletic prowess on display in these Olympic Games as in every Olympic Games. In the end, China will be China and no one’s impression of the People’s Republic of China will be changed.

The writer is a columnist and a social and political commentator.