Olympic and Politics

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hadi Mohammadifar 

Attention to soft aspects of power, especially sports, both in domestic and international systems, is more effective that attention to hard aspects of power like the military might as well as police and security control. In countries like Liberia, soccer creates peace and security and citizens are very interested in the choice of their favorite athletes. George Vea, the favorite Liberian soccer player is greatly welcomed by his fellow countrymen and, in the way, sports and politics are closely intertwined.

At international level, soft aspects of power, especially sports, are more important than hard aspects. Therefore, the United Nations General Assembly has called the year 2005 the year of sports and physical education. Our country is also aware of the importance of sports and has tried, through making hefty investments, to win more medals and improve its international standing. Therefore, superiority in sports is currently a major component of every country’s power. Olympic Games are currently a symbol of healthy competitions among countries.

The Games have a long record. They started at Olympia in ancient Greece in about 780 B.C. and have continued up to the present time. In 1936, Hilter tried to promote his idea of radical nationalism through the Olympic Games. Also, in 1972, in addition to oil embargo enforced against the Zionist regime, Muslim countries resorted to Olympics in their fight against Israel.

In 1976 when Americans won Olympic medals, they were effaced with boos and jeer from spectators who protested to radical discrimination in the United States. During this year’s Olympics there was powerful interaction between sports and politics, so that, from the beginning of carrying the torch, defenders of human rights and organizations advocating human rights in the West and European Union called for a ban on Beijing Games. The socialist presidential candidate of France, Ségolène Royal, clearly called on countries to ban Beijing Olympics. China has been under fire both for its domestic and foreign policies by Western countries. Due to its close political and economic ties with Sudan, China has continuously vetoed Security Council resolutions against Sudan or has voted for them reluctantly, especially to Resolutions 1593 and 1706.

In domestic politics, the Chinese government is grappling with the crisis in Tibet and Dalai Lama, who has always drawn the attention of Western countries, especially the European Union and the United States, to the issue of Tibet. When 2008 Olympic Games began, a good interaction existed between sports and politics. At the same time, this year’s Olympics coincided with the war in the Caucasus when the flames of peace were lighted in Beijing.

When the American sportsman was given his medal, the stadium was full of anti-American sentiments. President Bush and Laura, his wife, witnessed discontinuation of the national anthem of their country. Bush was also booed by protesters during the inauguration ceremony. However, when the Iraqi sportspeople were marching they received amazing ovation from the audience. Presence of Sarkozy and his wife, Putin and other high-ranking political figures was a symbol of interaction between sports and politics in Beijing. The importance of this issue is increasing in the modern world, so that one can assume that sport figures will ascend to key posts in their countries in the near future. Although Vladimir Putin ascended as high as presidency and George Vea came close to it, we will see more political breakthroughs for champions in the near future.


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