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editorial comment, equestrians, and china

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  • editorial comment, equestrians, and china

    http://www.eurodressage.com/editor/e..._20080321.html


    I know there was a thread a while back about participation in the Olympics and human rights issues...

    In light of the recent protests and as the games draw ever nearer, I was interested to know how people feel about this issue, have your feelings changed the closer we get.

    I am passionate about human rights issues, so it is difficult for me to hold my tongue and I can get quite frisky about this issue. Whilst I realize that the Olympics and sport should transend politics, but are we hiding behind this a bit too much in order to justify participation. I personally feel this is not about politics but the well being of our fellow man.

    Would you accept a place on the team in this year's games? I have attended most major championships since 1976 and I can definately say that I will NOT attend these games because of my personal beliefs. Most people have one shot at making an Olympics so what would YOU comprimise.....your principles for glory, or glory for principle.


  • #2
    Snoopy- When I was younger (early teens) I dreamed of making the team like many young people. Now that I'm in my 40's and hopefully would have a better understanding of the world as it is, I don't see making the Olympic team as the 'end-all-be-all' anymore.
    There are so many other 4-stars of the Olympic calibre, not to mention the World Games that I think going to a county that treats it's people in a sickening manner, it's animals by killing scores of cats and dogs - not to mention the black market where primates are butchered, a nuclear threat to neighboring countries, combined with the terrible heat and the stress put on the animals to travel there . . . if it were me, I wouldn't go. I would set my sites elsewhere. I think if people could educated themselves about Communist China, they'd have 2nd thoughts too.
    www.littlekentuckyfarm.com
    Thoroughbred Training and Sales

    Comment


    • #3
      Such high mindedness- such principles !!

      Have either of you ever been within forty pages of a short list ? *snort*
      U.S. Olympic Waterboarding Team- Beijing 08

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        I can see how it would be a far easier decision if one where going as a spectator, but if you were truly in the position to earn a spot as a competitor, if the stars lined up, you had the horse and this was your one real shot, how many of us would be able to make this choice.

        We have all witnessed the telly adverts of suffering both human and animal, do we change the channel, cover our eyes, etc? If your very livelyhood is sport would you cover your eyes and ears in order to add "olympic athlete" to your CV?

        Would you adopt a "what can my stand do to help" attitide or perhaps adopt the attitue of that of the french rider?

        I personally have never had a burning desire to make an olympic team...from the beginning I knew what was involved, the odds, politics, etc so the choice would be easier for me. I know many, from many different counties, who feel the way I do with regards to the issue but are still chasing that spot on the team. This is their personal decision of course and it is not my place to question them, but I cannot help but wonder about compassion, prinicple, fairness and where that fits in with sport at the highest level. I mean isn't that what true sport is about?

        Doing what is right (for me anyway) is a better legacy than a trip to HK/China.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Samrdr1 View Post
          Such high mindedness- such principles !!

          Have either of you ever been within forty pages of a short list ? *snort*


          I could rise to the bait... But I will not, though I will say your signature really says it all.

          I am NOT judging anyone for their personal stance on the issue, if indeed it even is an issue for some. I am just interested in people's thoughts.
          Last edited by snoopy; Mar. 22, 2008, 08:09 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            I have been following all of these threads avidly, though not participating because I'm not an eventer, and do not have enough knowledge of the sport to make an educated decision. This question, however, is one I can answer, for myself.

            My answer is, it would have depended. If the question had come up when I was younger, I might very well have gone. Ambition and pride can push a person into a decision that they might not have made at another time, especially when one is at the beginning of life's journey. To me, at that time, an Olympic medal would have been the height of success, and worth taking a risk or compromising my principles to get it.

            At my age now, I would say no. I see a medal much differently, as just a piece of metal, that, in the context of your entire life, really doesn't have much value. My primary concern would be for my partner, the horse, who cannot speak for himself. I would not want to put that creature through the stress and strain that the extended travel, and the pollution, would cause him.That would be the prime reason I wouldn't go. Though I abhor some of the things that China has done, I really don't believe that even an athlete's boycott would make any difference in what they do and how they do it.
            If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
            Desmond Tutu

            Comment


            • #7
              In about 1967 the World Boy Scout Jamboree was held in our state. The eq. drill team that I was a member of had the good fortune to be part of the entertainment for the boys. We girls were invited to a BBQ afterwards. One thing that I remember very well was eating and laughing and having a great time with kids who would NEVER have had that experience if politics had decided who did or did not attend. Irish kids, Catholic and non Catholics, talking and learning that each had something to say.

              In 1983 my family had 2 exchange students. One from Madrid and one from Basque Country. They both stated many times how special it was for them to have met. It would never have happened in Spain. They would have been at war with each other at home, in fact their brothers were at war with each other.

              Maybe whenever one has a chance to interact with people who you would otherwise never speak to, well, change happens slowly, one step, one person, at a time.

              The Olympics should not be about politics.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                GREAT post...very thought provoking.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well said Tuppysmom,

                  But the Olympics are a show case for a country and the Olympics have high and lovty goals in their agenda, one of it is peace.
                  It is Hard to see how one can justify to stand on the steps or walk into the stadium at opening day in a country that wages a war against its own people.
                  In a country that is willing to ruin its self economicaly and because of that will bring rather great suffering to its people, just to produce the inviromental conditions to hold the Olympics.
                  The outlying province around of Beijing, will have to produce the clean water, the clean food, will have to shut down its factories, millions of vehicles will be banned, not just for the duration, but far in advance, month in advance. The athlets will have the best, the very best, maybe even the clean air, while the people of that country will have to make rather unusual sacrifice dictated from the top.
                  I can not see how the athlets can justify to march into that stadium, its Berlin Games all over.
                  That I have no use for them, does not mean, that I don't know them and don't know how to use them.
                  Caveman extraordinair

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Personally, I am still blinking hard at the choice of venue in the first place.

                    I have always felt that the Olympics should transcend the current international madness and is not the place for political statement.

                    I was interested to listen to a program on NPR a few weeks ago discussing this very issue. Previous Olympic athletes who did make a political statement, generally at the medal ceremony, as well as many other Olympic athletes were interviewed and, to my surprise, they were overwhemingly in favor of anyone who had the guts to do this.
                    They also explained in detail the reprecussions of such acts, discussed whether or not they personally would take that step, but still applauded those who had.
                    Nina's Story
                    Epona Comm on FB

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      seems like a great place NOT

                      China Vows to Crush Tibet's Independence Movement
                      By VOA News
                      22 March 2008

                      China's Communist Party newspaper is calling on the government to "resolutely crush" Tibet's independence movement.


                      Dalai Lama gestures as he speaks to the media in Dharmsala, India, 18 Mar 2008
                      A commentary in the "People's Daily" Saturday accuses the Dalai Lama of plotting recent anti-government protests in Tibet in hopes of undermining the upcoming Beijing Olympics and splitting Tibet from China.

                      The Dalai Lama has denied calling for protests.

                      Reports from China say Beijing has sent elite units of the People's Liberation Army into Tibet to crack down on the protests.

                      Witnesses in the Tibetan capital said armored troop carriers and other military vehicles in use there had their identifying numbers and insignia concealed.

                      In Lhasa Saturday, Chinese authorities raised the official toll from the past week's riots to 19 dead, including 18 civilians and a policeman. Tibetan exile groups say at least 80 people were killed in Lhasa, and that clashes in other Chinese provinces claimed nearly 20 lives.

                      The official Xinhua news agency has said police firing in self-defense during a riot wounded four people in a Tibetan area of Sichuan province earlier this week. However, human-rights groups have released photographs showing what appear to be corpses with bullet wounds. They allege that police killed 15 people during the clash in Sichuan.

                      China has expelled all foreign journalists from Tibet and tried to prevent others from reaching neighboring provinces. Before they were forced to leave, journalists were able to report on a buildup of thousands of troops, along with blockades and checkpoints across a wide swath of western China.

                      Some information for this report was provided by A
                      Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
                      Confucius

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The other dimension I keep coming back to is, what is right for the HORSES? I know how the conditions at the last few Olympics have been very hard on the animals. I know how some of them have colicked, some died, some have been compromised in other ways. Travel is VERY stressful for the horses.

                        My daughter had a lovely 18 year old Young Rider dressage horse. This year the Nat. Champ. is in Cal. and the NAYRC is in Col. We would NOT ship her horse (a good shipper) across the country for one show. Not worth the risk. We just sold him. Broke my heart, her last YR year, but it was the right thing for the horse.
                        \"I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.\"--Pogo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tuppysmom View Post
                          The Olympics should not be about politics.
                          For China, these Olympics are ONLY about politics.

                          We have a friend who is an Olympic historian. He's been a commentator at 14 Olympics, knows the Games and their organizational foibles through and through. He's made some visits to Beijing to watch the preparations and is really torn about attending the events themselves. He's leaning toward not going, and it's not about the sports, it's about the politics, censorship and duplicity of the government.

                          This same friend also publishes an annual list of the world's worst dictatorships. He finds his interests converging in Beijing this summer.

                          About 15 years ago, I went to China with a group that was involved in helping China get the Olympics. This first bid, which was not successful, involved a lot of flashy PR people hired to make the case that China's HR record wasn't really so bad even though we all knew it was. Everyone involved knew the real score, the idea was to try to convince the IOC that the Chinese government didn't really do the things it does.

                          I was very pleased to see Steven Spielberg withdraw from his role in the opening ceremony. I hope others will do the same.

                          But would I go as an athlete? I can't answer that question. I think a sport like eventing is different because the Olympics are not the end-all and be-all of your career.

                          I can say with certainty that I wouldn't let my horse go to Hong Kong. Too far, too polluted, too many risks I'd never forgive myself for. Why not go to Burghley instead?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by snoopy View Post
                            I could rise to the bait... But I will not, though I will say your signature really says it all.

                            I am NOT judging anyone for their personal stance on the issue, if indeed it even is an issue for some. I am just interested in people's thoughts.
                            I can whole heartedly assure you that Samrdr's signature in wholly sarcastic.

                            And yes, he can be a little stinker, but his question is valid.
                            It is far easier to have convictions when you do not have quite so much to lose.

                            I personally am of two minds about whether our athletes should compete in Bejing. Pulling out of competition does make a statement, but so does competing, winning and proving that other countries' athletes are superior to those of the host country (boy that was hard to say in a politically acceptable sort of way!)

                            The state department has issued a statement that persons traveling to Bejing
                            "should be aware that they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations. All hotel rooms and offices are considered to be subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring at all times." Anyone wonder where they are going to put the 'monitoring devices' in the stable areas?!?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gnep View Post
                              In a country that is willing to ruin its self economicaly and because of that will bring rather great suffering to its people, just to produce the inviromental conditions to hold the Olympics.
                              The outlying province around of Beijing, will have to produce the clean water, the clean food, will have to shut down its factories, millions of vehicles will be banned, not just for the duration, but far in advance, month in advance. The athlets will have the best, the very best, maybe even the clean air, while the people of that country will have to make rather unusual sacrifice dictated from the top.
                              And this is different from PRC history from the mid '50s on ... how exactly? The CCP starved THIRTY MILLION people to death in the great famine caused by asinine POLICIES that could've been reversed but WEREN'T. Ruining itself economically? What planet do YOU live on? It's going to take more than a few months to 'ruin' the country - Mao didn't manage, I certainly don't think the IOC is going to manage, or a few months of special policies for the Olympics. Does the Cultural Revolution ring a bell? Yeah. They managed to bounce back pretty damn well from that.

                              NOTHING going on in China is new. Not one damn thing. Olympic fever has been going on since the turn of the century (I highly recommend Andrew Morris, 'Marrow of the Nation' if you'd like to get clued in to the fact that this is wrapped up in a whole lot more than CCP pride), arguments and violent crackdowns have been going on in the far-flung provinces (and that includes MORE than Tibet, people - I realize Brad Pitt has never thrown his weight behind a 'Free Xinjiang' campaign, but come on) since the turn of the century, Chinese scientists were recognizing as early as '55 (a scant 6 years after the CCP assumed control of the Mainland) that government policies were setting up for an environmental DISASTER of grave proportions, and go back to the campaigns of the '50s and we see ... *gasp* ... the Chinese government being horrible to its own people. In worse ways, I daresay, than some of the high profile recent events.

                              The only thing that's changed is that instead of shunning the PRC, foreign governments are cheerfully ketouing to it. Well, gee, who do we have to thank for that? You think the PRC just magically bullied its way to diplomatic recognition? Who stood down on the UN Security Council to allow that to happen? Oh, right. The United States. Quite charmingly stabbed the ROC in the back, and will happily sell them down the river for cheap goods from Wal-Mart and the lure of the potential Chinese market. Western governments are complicit in ALL of this. Beijing gets a hand slap for the most egregious of issues, and that will continue to happen. Just look at some of the political shucking and jiving that surrounds Taiwan issues. Who parrots back the 'One China, Two Systems' rhetoric? My, some defenders of freedom we are. The United States government ought to be ashamed of itself.

                              You think some horseback riders pulling out of an event that's being held in Hong Kong is going to make some sort of 'statement' in the face of what governments do? Get real.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Yes, China has grave human rights issues, and I respect those expressing and following their beliefs. I would however urge everyone before getting too "holier than thou" about it to examine our own actions vis a vis human rights.
                                Two words - water boarding.

                                Flutie

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Well, I have never been within 30 pages of a short list so probably have no right to speak to this subject. According to Samrdr1 anyhow.
                                  My primary reasons for not taking my horse to the Olympics this time are that the pollution would probably do irreversible damage to him, if the traveling hadn't killed him getting there. Combine that with the human rights issues and I'd have to say "Thanks. I am truly honored, but I won't go."
                                  Badminton has always been my dreamy goal anyhow. Never dreamed of Olympic competition.
                                  Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Nope. Never will need to make that call. But no way would I take a horse to Hong Kong or mainland China. And for that matter, I would not compete in Charlotte North Carolina close to the city on a hot, humid, August afternoon.

                                    And truly- what Flutie said. I'm sure the Chinese people are wonderful, but their government is shameful. Much like ours. I hope the people of China can benefit economically from the games.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by flutie1 View Post
                                      Yes, China has grave human rights issues, and I respect those expressing and following their beliefs. I would however urge everyone before getting too "holier than thou" about it to examine our own actions vis a vis human rights.
                                      Two words - water boarding.

                                      Flutie

                                      "Holier than thou"....hmmm

                                      Is it holier than thou to only eat free range eggs? Sure eating an egg is eating an egg...but the CONDITIONS in which that egg is produced is certainly different and more humane than the battery chicken eggs.

                                      What I will freely admit is that I do not know what CONDITIONS are in effet for producing the games...and ultimately what benefit the chinese people will get from the games themselves. So by spectating or participating are we only funding a government system that is not to the liking of the international community and the chinese people themselves. Are we funding a PR exercise at the expense of the people and in the name of sport?

                                      And what of the health factor...we as humans have a choice what to subject ourselves to, but our horses do not have this voice. And I think it is fair to say, that the horses will be subjected to far greater health risks through far greater physical strain than that of the riders.

                                      Now, please, I am NOT preaching...not in the least. I would just like to reiterate that I am trying to get the view points of all who wish to contibute, without judgement. Basically for me, I am looking to be enlightened by different view points.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by RiverBendPol View Post
                                        Well, I have never been within 30 pages of a short list so probably have no right to speak to this subject. According to Samrdr1 anyhow.
                                        My primary reasons for not taking my horse to the Olympics this time are that the pollution would probably do irreversible damage to him, if the traveling hadn't killed him getting there. Combine that with the human rights issues and I'd have to say "Thanks. I am truly honored, but I won't go."
                                        Badminton has always been my dreamy goal anyhow. Never dreamed of Olympic competition.
                                        Good summation, I agree.
                                        Nina's Story
                                        Epona Comm on FB

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