A response to a comment about our Beijing trip.

I thought it important to respond to these questions in a post rather than in a reply to the person. Who by the way made their statement anonymously which I find strange, but that’s another matter.

Anonymous said…

What about the China’s human rights record, Tibet, its support of the regime in the Sudan, its jailing of democracy advocates like Hu Jia and its crackdown on the Falun Gong etc, etc?

Does this bother you as an athlete?

Would you like to have seen the games held somewhere else?

Is it fair that athletes should be dragged into this politics as seems is happening?

My response…
This I know is a concern, why I have not mentioned it in my post is largely due to the fact that as an athlete my role is to live by example, compete with healthy regard for self and others, and to be aware of not being use as a pawn in the politics of governments and countries. On a personal level I dislike the idea of hurting another person in a way it goes against my sense of what’s right. This though is not something that I can honestly say I know all that much about when it comes to many of the events we here about in the media. For now I wish to learn more before I would begin to change my focus from performing athlete to activist. I feel conflict about it, but find it hard to comprehend the whole situation. Not because I don’t care but I have not seen the impact first hand. I know this is no excuse but at this stage in my life I am trying to live by the examples of working together and developing capacities that lead to improving the world in which I have direct contact with. I can certainly say that when I do hear accounts in the media it makes my heart sink. What I can say is that with the Games being in China it has put the spot light on the situation. This is a form of awakening and realisation and from that, action can be taken to continue to not only improve the situations there but also in the World. I know that the message from the IOC is that it is not there place to tell Governments what they should do. It does how ever bring the area of the World that is hosting the Games into focus and as such I hope that the people with the skills, ability and knowledge can be involved to enable the progress to be positive and for improving the lives of those involved. To answer the question of the games being held else where, I say no. This is an opportunity for all of us to realise the World is bigger than our back yard. People live in different ways and countries have operated in different ways. The impact of the Games will have both positive and negative outcomes. Hopefully there’s more of the former occurring and what I do feel strongly about is that as an athlete I will perform in the spirit that the Games was intended. This is a great example and it can be used to contrast against any opposing action taking place any where in the World. As for if it is fair, well life is not always fair, but being expected to wage into arguments or movements of this nature are not what we have trained for. Interestingly we are training to not be distracted and to focus on what we can control or achieve. I don’t like the idea of putting your head in the sand, but when I consider the politics of it all I don’t know where to start and feel quiet helpless. So as an athlete I focus on what I can have an impact on which is the way I perform and how I live and engage with people around me. In Australia a politician made a statement about us boycotting the Games. The link to the letter articulates it well how I also feel. Understand that I made a choice some 16 years ago to work towards being an Olympian. Any one that knows me would be aware that I have many strong opinions about certain things, a so this may seem strange that I am not jumping in air guns blazing. I have many more questions than answers and as such what to keep an open mind and heart to the way things are in the World. Change does often seem like a slow process when we what for it to be quick and more dramatic. What I think should or shouldn’t happen in the world really does not matter unless I am prepared to take action. For now the action I take involves an oar, a boat and partner and an event that shows how we can come together from all over the World to engage in activities that we have dreamed of since little kids and will inspire future generations to follow us and do the same. This is the impact I am aware of that I can have and the one that I am directing my effort and focus towards.

Have a read of another athlete who wrote an open letter to an Australian politician asking for athletes to boycott the Games. Open Letter: Kim Crow

4 thoughts on “A response to a comment about our Beijing trip.

  1. First of all, thankyou for addressing the comment. It might have been easier for you to ignore it, orsimply comment ‘I don’t get involved in politics.’Living by example also means having the courage to voice your opinions.I am glad to learn that you are not as shackled in this regard as the british olympic team have been:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7237227.stm

  2. Thanks for this frank and genuine response.I posted the original comment about Beijing. Just clicked the wrong box and didn’t mean not to show my face.The reason I asked those questions is that I have found it so difficult to decide what to think about Beijing.There are things I have read in the media about China (Tibet, Darfur, the environment, Falun Gong et cetera) that I just don’t like the sound of and that seem to run against everything the Olympics should stand for.I am no Olympian, but I reckon that if I was there is no way that I would sacrifice my shot at the Olympics, no matter what my political view was. What does get me angry is that athletes have to face this dilemma at all. Why have the Olympics gone to Beijing in the first place when there are all these unresolved political issues hanging over the host nation.But I think non-Olympians are also quick to call for an athlete boycott or to protest the Olympic Torch, but then only to happy to sit in front of the telly and enjoy the action when the Games roll around in August.But as you said, sport and the spirit of the games are very powerful. Lets hope that the fair competition and amazing performances can transcend the policitics and bitterness.There are issues and questions that China needs to answer though, and until it does I fear that politics, sadly, is going to hound this games from start to finish.

  3. Thanks for this frank and genuine response.I posted the original comment about Beijing. Just clicked the wrong box and didn’t mean not to show my face.The reason I asked those questions is that I have found it so difficult to decide what to think about Beijing.There are things I have read in the media about China (Tibet, Darfur, the environment, Falun Gong et cetera) that I just don’t like the sound of and that seem to run against everything the Olympics should stand for.I am no Olympian, but I reckon that if I was there is no way that I would sacrifice my shot at the Olympics, no matter what my political view was. What does get me angry is that athletes have to face this dilemma at all. Why have the Olympics gone to Beijing in the first place when there are all these unresolved political issues hanging over the host nation.But I think non-Olympians are also quick to call for an athlete boycott or to protest the Olympic Torch, but then only to happy to sit in front of the telly and enjoy the action when the Games roll around in August.But as you said, sport and the spirit of the games are very powerful. Lets hope that the fair competition and amazing performances can transcend the policitics and bitterness.There are issues and questions that China needs to answer though, and until it does I fear that politics, sadly, is going to hound this games from start to finish.

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