Steven Spielberg’s decision to withdraw from arranging the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics caused press around the world (except for China) to rub their hands with glee this week at the prospect of China’s dirty laundry being flown from the flagpoles of Beijing.
Citing China’s tacit support of genocide in Darfur, the director claimed that his conscience no longer allowed him to continue business as usual, and that the hosts “should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering“.
Following his work on Munich, Spielberg is no doubt aware that the Summer Games have long since been used to make a political point, and with the situation in Sudan having been around for quite some time it seems surprising that his conscience has taken this long to kick in.
China meanwhile, can dry their eyes with a quick look back through the history books, at the Olympic boycotts of the cold war, when “Nyet” really did mean “No“:
- Moscow 1980: A US led band of brothers- including China- boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest over the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
- Los Angeles 1984: A tit-for-tat walk out saw Moscow twist the arms of Cuba, East Germany, Poland and a rash of other Eastern Bloc countries to leave LA in the lurch, and Krusty The Clown severely out of pocket.
In other Olympics news, the world record marathoner Haile Gebrselassie has said that he may have to pull out of the grueling event due to heat and much-discussed Beijing pollution. A concern echoed by athletes during the 2004 games in Athens.