The argument for a boycott of the China Olympics by athletes is a case against the China Olympics
Please don't go, as I would-be Winter Olympians: don't go. Please don't go.
China, the International Olympic Committee, and NBC will host the Winter Olympics on Feb. 4, attempting to pretend China is not operating, subjecting some to forced sterilization; has not ; and has not, tennis star Peng Shuai, after she accused a high Chinese government official of sexual assault.
Don't anticipate much attention to all that fake snow as well.
When you show up, China, the IOC, and NBC do all of this. Not for your benefit, mind you, but because they require you. They need you to show up.
NBCUniversal paid $7.5 billion to the IOC for the rights to broadcast the Olympics from 2022 to 2032. The network has, and IOC partners like Coca-Cola, Toyota, Visa, Bridgestone, and Procter & Gamble desire your opulent tales to sell their products.
China, of course, wants a huge public relations boost.
But none of this can happen without you: You're the meat in the grinder of a gigantic entertainment-industrial complex. Without you, there wouldn't be much of a US TV audience to justify all of that money. If you were to start feeling a little lonely skiing, skating, or curling on the backs of innocent people imprisoned for the crime of being who they are and you decided not to go, you could force the IOC to stop abetting human rights.
You have the power.
American athletes debated whether or not to participate in an Olympics hosted by a racist, oppressive Nazi Germany in 1936, giving Jewish persecution the phony patina of legality., and in other nations, agitated for a boycott of the games. NAACP chief Walter White implored Jesse Owens, the greatest American athlete of his generation, not to go, saying any athlete participating .
Avery Brundage, the anti-Semitic head of the US Olympic Committee, who later managed the IOC itself, accused those campaigning for a boycott of putting a .
The boycott failed, and the games proved to be a boon for Nazi Germany's global reputation. (The IOC has a great tolerance for fascists. For 30 years, it was led by Juan Antonio Samaranch,.)
The IOC awarded Moscow the summer games in 1980, while the Soviet Union conducted a series of forced-labor gulags to punish political prisoners. The US government boycotted those games, not because of the gulags, but because the Soviet government invaded Afghanistan. The boycott did not accomplish much other than deceived athletes, which soured governments on the idea of boycotting Olympics.
Though President Biden stated he might ban a series of the Beijing games, nobody watchs the games to see diplomats. They watch to see you. Your boycott, one you volunteer for, not one you won't be imposed on you, would have enormous significance.
The Olympics business has shown you what it believes of you. The United States Olympic Committee, instead opting to preserve its own cash flow, was the IOC, never putting the athletes' welfare and flourishing first.
The tragicomedy of the IOC this week is the newest example.
So go ahead and do it yourself. At the very least, the Women's Tennis Association has shown signs of success.
Meaningful change requires sacrifice, and if you choose not to go to Beijing, youll be sacrificed a big stage. However, most of you in marquee sports, like skiing, figure skating, and hockey, will still have those marquees, as well as lucrative sponsorship agreements and huge social media followings earlier generations did not have. And the Olympics are far from the only stage. Skaters, bobsledders, and lugers will still have international seasons.
You'll miss winning Olympic medals, but you'll have what the 1936 Olympians missed: the chance to win respect and admiration of millions, as well as the power of enforcing the IOC and NBC that they will never be able to postpone a showbiz extravaganza on human beings' bones.
Brian Alexander has written for a magazine on the Olympics, where he most recently wrote about the series The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town.