Protests over the Olympic Torch Relay


The lone stop for the Olympic Torch Relay is in San Francisco, California today, April 9, 2008. And with the number of protests planned, the USOC and IOC are announcing the highest level of security for this event ever. Why is this such a surprise?

Anyone who has lived in the Bay Area knows that the USOC, IOC and the folks in Beijing must not have been thinking clearly about putting the Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco. The city ,as it is known to its inhabitants is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in the world. It is also a city that celebrates diversity, and demands active participation in local politics.

The protests are not just in San Francisco. The protests in both London and Paris have been highly visible. There will be protests across the US today in reaction to the Olympic Torch Relay.

A sign has been dropped off the Golden Gate bridge noting Free Tibet. Richard Gere, the actor and the Dalai Lama are planning to visit with a large group of protesters. And the USOC has become so concerned that Peter Ueberroth, the CEO of the USOC changed travel plans to be there as well.

Protesters want the IOC to speak more strongly to the Chinese government about its treatment of the inhabitants of Nepal, Darfur and their own country. The Free Tibet movement has gotten more vocal due to the video showing Chinese troops beating Tibetan protesters. This has become a daily occurrence on global television.

The the Chinese thought the global outrage over Tibet would go away is naive. But, there seems to be enough naitivity to go around. The IOC has delivered a stronger statement to the Chinese government, but there does not seem to be any change.

The Dalai Lama is not recommending a boycott of Beijing. He is asking for the Chinese government to give Tibet more autonomy. Now, several world leaders are suggesting that they will not visit the Beijing opening ceremonies. The Beijing government has called the Dalai Lama's actions, " disruptive."

My thoughts have not really changed. I am not for a boycott of Beijing. I do believe that the Olympics will change China in ways that the government can not comprehend and that most of those changes are good. The public relations coup gained by China during the Games will be short lived unless there is real change in how they treat trigger points around the world.

The Chinese government must realize that the global outrage over its actions in Darfur, Tibet, and with its own people will not stop until the government changes its reactions. Nothing will stop the protests, and as the Games get closer, the protests will become, more and more intense.

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