Violating the Conditions of the Deal

The international community let itself be lured into believing that China would improve its attitude toward minorities and dissidents.

Why shouldn't the next Olympic Games be held in Iran or Sudan? When it comes to oppressive regimes, there aren't any essential differences between them. China has given the games the slogan "One World, One Dream." Everything in China is "one," including one ruling party. And even the dubious Iranian democracy is better looking than its Chinese sister. Chinese democracy, however, is an atrocity of crimes against humanity. And who is propping up Sudan, which is slaughtering people in Darfur, as well as Iran and its bomb?

And even pen-pusher starlings fly to where the ravens are, and for good reason. Their suitcases are already packed, in four months the Games begin and they don't have any alternative plans to a long summer of Olympic bliss. So they are explaining that politicians like German Chancellor Angela Merkel are nothing but opportunists who follow the whims of fashion. If only they were right; if only it were a new international fashion to repudiate tyrants. But this is not yet the dernier cri, which is a pity.

The flocks of starlings have not noticed the common denominator among the first boycotters - the chancellor, the president of the Czech Republic and the prime minister of Poland. All three experienced the strong arm of Soviet occupation. This week Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told Haaretz about the formative experience of his life: "I saw how the police were firing at demonstrators. I understood that police must not shoot civilians. This taught me always to be on the side of those who are being beaten, never on the side of those who are doing the beating."

The opponents of the boycott have a conclusive argument: Politics should not be mixed with sports. And there is nothing sillier than that: From the outset, China was awarded the Olympics because of political calculations. After all, because of the pollution there, Beijing is the last city in the world that deserves this huge prize; the toxic air endangers the athletes' health.

But the international community let itself be lured into believing that China would improve its attitude toward minorities and dissidents. This has not happened: This week the killing continued in Tibet and a human rights activist, Hu Jia, has been thrown into prison. China is violating the conditions of the deal - the Olympics in return for human rights, while the International Olympics Committee is being strangely loyal to it.

And if politics really shouldn't be mixed with sports, then what are all those people going to do there? Is U.S. President George W. Bush going to run the hurdles, will British Prime Minister Gordon Brown do the 1,500 meters and will President Shimon Peres pole vault?

If it is already too late and it is not possible to cancel the Games, why isn't it possible at least to boycott the ceremony? Let the bigwigs and the young people arise and play before us, but China will not win the medal of legitimization and respect.

How good it is that there are not only politicians in this world but also human beings. In London, Paris and San Francisco this week, people extinguished the Olympic torch in which a "strange fire" burns; boos and hisses for the torch, hooray for its extinguishers.

There are those who still remember how in 1936 in Berlin and 1978 in Buenos Aires, human scum stood there, greeted honored guests and laughed in their faces. Participate first, cry later; they will regret it this time, too.