Since their inception, the modern games have been infused with politics, boycotts, and threats of non-participation. Some people see the games as a way of promoting and legitimizing the host city. Athletes may face an ethical dilemma by participating in a country where there are severe human rights violations. Still, the Olympic idealists hold the standard of de Coubertin and insist that politics and social issues remain clear of the games. These competing opinions on the value and purpose of the games have almost never been as pronounced as they are when we discuss the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. The decision to hold the Olympics in China has been met with a series of protests that object to their history of oppression and violations of basic civil rights. While there are legitimate objections to the selection process, the ideals of sport, international cooperation, and cultural interaction makes Beijing an appropriate choice for the 2008 Olympics.
The importance of the Olympics and the selection of the host city should not be underestimated. It offers economic advantage to the city in the way of tourism as well as an opportunity to exhibit the city's and the host country's best face. The enormous worldwide interest in the games can be seen by the escalating broadcast revenues and the attendant increase in viewership in recent years (see Appendix A). This also opens up the door to give a country an opportunity to present a faade while they ignore the reality that lies just beyond the borders of the games. Will the world see the sweatshops and hardships that lay beyond the broadcasts, or will they only be shown the glossy face of the "New China" (See Appendix B) Determining where fact meets propaganda is one of the challenges faced by the IOC, the media, and the viewing public.
The biggest objection to Beijing hosting the Olympics is their dismal record on human rights. There has been evidence for decades that China is a totalitarian government that has little, if any respect for individual freedom. This was seen in the protests at Tianamen Square where the Chinese government killed at least 11 students as they were crushed by tanks for participating in a in a pro-democracy demonstration (Witnessing Tiananmen, 2004). This protest, and the subsequent violence in 1989, brought the world's attention to the potential for brutality to the eyes of the world. This should have given the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a warning that the world may have concerns over their choice of Beijing as a host city.
The concerns over their suppression of democracy are also emboldened by examining some of China's public policies. One of the most controversial policies that China has enacted is the One Child Policy that was implemented to control the spiraling population growth. The Chinese have traditionally desired a male child to carry on the family name and the family heritage. This policy has resulted in the termination of untold numbers of female children. Gendercide, an international human rights watch group reports that, "the number of "missing" women showed a sharp upward trend in the 1980s, linked by almost all scholars to the "one-child policy" introduced by the Chinese government in 1979 to control spiraling population growth" (Jones, 2002). Nearly all the rest of the world has universally condemned this policy.
The acute shortage of women in