Frettabladid (Icelandic Newspaper): What says The Olympic Charter?

May 8th, 2008

Loud criticism towards the conduct of the hosts of Olympics 2008 on human rights issues has not been created in a void but is an understandable reaction to unacceptable misuse of power. Þorgerður Katrín Gunnarsdóttir (the Minister of Education and Sports in Iceland) has the authority to show our symbolic disapproval/denunciation in action by shunning the opening and closing ceramonies at the Olympic Games in Peking in August. For such a decision are valid reasons according to well argumented claims from large number of human rights organisations. Among them are facts of the living conditions of the Tibetan people that are prisoners without rights in their own country. Minor communication with tourists, flighty attempts of loyalty to their own life convictions can around there be interpreted as an occasion for cruel punishments. The Chinese regime´s desperate attempt to hide their gruesome actions for the past weeks is clearly seen by how neither UN human rights representative, media, nor tourists are allowed into the country, but 200 Icelandic teachers had first hand experience of those actions.

Deomoctracy, human rights and Tibet are examples of illeagel concepts on the Chinaweb. The positive values behind those words are from the perspective of chinese authorites a dangerous threat to public security in a similar way as public security in Iceland was allegedly threatened by people in yellow clothes in the summer of 2002 if we were to take seriously the reaction of the present Minister of Sports and Education, who at that time was the Chairman of the Plenary Committy of Althingi.

Far reaching political actions commanded by the commity and icelandic authorities warded off the danger of peaceful protests, when the real goal was to please the president of China. Such reaction that Þorgerður Katrín now calls to appease the Chinese required that summer both a violation of the icelandic law according to the Ombudsman of Althingi and untruthfull allegations about the origin of the black lists that the actions were built on. Interpol, a lawful international police movenment, sent the false allegations back to where they came from.

This year´s Olympic Games in Peking are yet not supposed to centre upon the whims of a totalitarianism regime but upon the vision and the spirit that is thoroughly described in the Olympic Charter. The relationship between the political sphere and the Olympic movement has to be contemplated with consideration of that agreement.

The guiding light are six foundational rules, fundamental principles of Olympicism, that at the same time create the leagal frame for all practice of sports in Iceland since the Icelandic Sports Coalition and the Icelandic Olympic Commity were united in 1997. Among those rules are:

1.Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.

2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.

5. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement..

6. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC.

The general meaning is clear. It is based on philanthropy, respect for cultural and individual multiplicity and preserving the dignity of human beings. Disrespecting the Olympic Charter is equal to not belonging to the Olympic movement. We do not need specialists to figure out that at this point in time the hosts of Olympics 2008 are not acting in compliance with these values (of 1. and 2.) and have therefore, according to article 6., forfeited their right to work for the Olympic movement.

An organisation of students that witnessed the Tiananmen Square Massacre in ´89 claim that The Ministry of Security in China is systematically working on discriminating against certain groups from taking part in the games which is a rude violation of the 5th article of the agreement. The Dalai Lama and his followers and Roman-Catholics are among the 43 unwanted groups of people, but also all those that have become mutilated in protest against the Chinese regime and all relatives of people that have lost their lives in such actions.

In stead of an increased consonance with the ideal of the Olympic Games, as has been aimed at, we only hear the sound of broken promises.

If the Minister of Sports is still wondering whether there are valid reasons to shun the seat with the dictators at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics ´08, I challenge her to get acquainted with the voices of the tens of millions of Chinese people that have united under the banner We want human rights not the Olympics, but since there are no signs that freedom of expression will be the leading theme at Olympics 2008 the guests at the opening ceremony will most likely miss that important message.

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