April 1st this year unlike previous years was pretty dull for me, nobody played any pranks on anybody and even i really didn’t have the enthusiasm to play any pranks this year. But there was 1 man who made the government of the world’s largest democracy look like a total fool. That my friends was Baichung Bhutia, the face of Indian football, by saying no to carrying the Olympic torch when it passes India on April the 17th as a mark of protest for the Tibetan cause, when our government chose go overboard in pleasing the Chinese. It made me feel so proud!!
But is it really good to mix politics and sports? There was talk of boycotting the Olympics this year, is it a viable solution? Well if history were to be any indication then no i don’t think so. Olympics have had a history of boycott calls. For example the 1956 Olympic games that was boycotted by Spain, Netherlands and Switzerland in protest to the Soviet Union’s brutal crackdown of the uprising in Hungary, did that stop the soviet union? 28 African nation boycotted the Melbourne Olympics in protest to inclusion of New Zealand whose rugby team toured South Africa which itself was banned for its apartheid policy, did that end the apartheid? Well it can be argued though that the Soviet Unions withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1980 was followed by the US led boycott of the games in Moscow in 1979. But i still don’t think it really was the main reason why Moscow withdrew from Afghanistan.
Coming to Tibet and the Beijing Olympics will boycotting the games serve its purpose? I have my doubts. I was watching “We The People” yesterday on NDTV and Ashwini Nachappa when asked if she would toe Baichung Bhutia’s line said she would take part in carrying the torch but with a black band, fair enough isn’t it? I mean if the Chinese were that bothered about countries boycotting the Olympics they would never have dealt so brutally with the Tibetan protesters in the first place. In fact this would open up a Pandora’s box because if you ask me, i don’t think there is a single country in this world where human rights violations aren’t taking place, be it the united states committing human rights violation in the Guantanamo bay or even India which is accused of committing human right violations in Kashmir and the North-east. In fact i guess that’s also been a factor because of which India hasn’t boycotted the games or even the torch rally. The French president made a very interesting comment the other day when asked if France would consider boycotting the games, he said “Lets not be more Tibetan than the Dalai Lama” referring to the fact that the Dalai Lama himself hadn’t called for a boycott.
I think the best that sports can do is make people sit up and take notice and i think Baichung Bhutia’s refusal has done exactly that, because if he hadn’t done what he did, i don’t think anybody would have really even been talking about it in India at all? I had another interesting thought though. What if every country did take part and go there in full strength and use that to speak out for Tibet when they win their medals. Could there be a better place to do that than on Chinese land? i think that would be a bigger slap on their face wouldn’t it?
What ever it is i still would say hats off to Baichung Bhutia for having the courage to do what he has done, its considered an honor to carry the Olympic torch and by refusing to do so he has just shown how strongly he feels for the Tibetan cause.
Filed under: Politics