Posted by Henric C. Jensen on March 27, 2008
Since this Summer will see the Olympics Hosted by China, a highly controversial choice due to the Human Rights violations that we all know is being committed both in-side China and out-side, in Tibet, I think it’s proper to remind people of a few good things that can come of such an event. The prime example is the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
It is important because if the world, including the US had boycotted those 1936 Olympics on account of the Human Rights Violations Hitler and his Minions committed before, during and after those Olympic Games, we would never have seen the picture above – Reproduction of photograph in “Die Olympischen Spiele, 1936″ p.27, 1936.”Jesse Owens at start of record breaking 200 meter race.”- Jesse Owens would nopt have been a Olympic Gold Medalist on 100 and 200 meters sprint, 4×100 m relay nor would he have been the Olympic Gold Medalist in Long jump.
“A few months before his death, Owens had tried unsuccessfully to convince President Jimmy Carter not to boycott the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow, arguing that the Olympic ideal was to be a time-out from war and above politics.”
The Story of Jesse Owens and Lutz Long, apart from telling a story about an Olympic Gold Medalist who would not have been, had the Summer Olympics been boycotted, also shows that Sports is above and beyond Politics.
Yes, horrible things went on in Germany at the time. But a boycott would not have changed that. The Story of Long and Owens further show us that in the midst of horrible events friends can be made, tricks and tips can be shared for the betterment of people. Many Athletes going to the Summer Olympics in Bejing 2008 will only have one chance to be seen, be applauded by the world, will only have one chance to be an Olympian. For us not to be there and cheer them on is as much a betrayal of the Olympian Ideal as it would have been for Jesse Owens to refuse help from Lutz Long based on his nationality and the actions government of his country. Let’s also remember that if Lutz Long had chosen not to help Jesse Owens on account of his skin-color, that too would have been a betrayal of the Olympian Ideal, and it would most likely have made Lutz Long a general Nobody in history, because there would have been no story to tell.
As a Human Rights Activist I see myself as obligated to try and find fairness and balance , look for when the human and the political collide and protect the human from political decisions that violates the rights of the Human. In this case I see the line between the Athletes and the Activists, and I stand firmly with the Athletes in their right to be sportsmen, not political pawns.