I smile a wry smile every time I see or hear talk of a boycott of the Winter Olympic Games because of the human rights situation in China and think they will be punishing China by doing so.
They are however completely wrong; the Games will still go ahead and the only people being punished will be the boycotting country’s own citizen athletes who have worked long and hard – 4 years or more for the hope of competing for a medal, or perhaps even a record-equalling medal or defense of a title.
I remember the 1980 Games in Moscow were to ‘punish’ the then regime several countries boycotted the Games with some countries leaving it up to the individual sports organizations to make the decision to go or not.
It must have been particularly galling for GBR sailors to see the likes of Alan Wells win gold on the track or David Wilkie the same in the swimming pool (both Scots by the way) while the Royal Yachting Association had decided NOT to send the British sailors to compete in the Olympic Regatta off Tallin especially as, in the run-up to the Games, many were reckoned to be favorites for a medal, perhaps even Gold. Not just negating 4 years of hard work but also perhaps removing a chance of an Olympic Medal forever.
It should be noted that in the Tornado Rob White (whose father Reg had won the trials for the Tornado’s Olympic selection & the 1976 Gold) and David Campbell-James had won the pre-Olympics and the 1980 Europeans and Chris Law in the Finn was a clear favorite even amongst his fellow Finn sailors(never sailed a Finn again) with British sailors serious medal chances in most of the other classes. None of these three ever won an Olympic medal of any color.
The Olympic Games have always been an easy and soft target for the politicians to voice their rhetoric when their efforts elsewhere have failed.
Perhaps there has come a time to splinter the Olympics and make individual world championships more important and relevant meaning the world’s premier sporting event is no longer potentially a political tool used by politicians to further their own aims and reputations at the expense of their own elite athletes. – SS.
Title inspiration, somewhat unsurprisingly, is thanks to, um, Talk Talk.