Friday, 8 August 2008

Playing Memory Games as the Olympics Begin: China Isn't the First Host Country with a Spotty Record

Things to remember as the Olympics begin in Beijing and the Western world protests human rights violations:

Hundreds of people—mostly student protesters—were killed in Mexico City shortly before the 1968 games began. The city had been scene to massive anti-government demonstrations and the regime in power wanted to show a less-troubled face to the world.

The week before the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Mayor Jean Drapeau ordered the demolition of a big open air art show, Corridart: Dans la rue Sherbrooke. The 5.5 kilometer display of cutting edge Canadian art apparently offended the mayor’s sensibilities.

China is the most populous country in the world, with enormous economic potential. There is little doubt that it has a long history of despotic governments of one sort or another. But come on, who has clean hands? The fact that China is becoming the number one economic rival of the US and the EU should not be forgotten when listening to the rhetoric surrounding China's (quite real, and not to be condoned) human rights violations.

Don't forget Tibet , but who was raising a ruckus about Spain's attitude toward the Basque country during the Barcelona games--or about the uneasy relation between Spain and Catalonia itself?

And just for the record, during the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, the British equestrian team brought gas masks for their horses because of the Los Angeles smog.

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