Olympic Games and Dirty Politics.

by Steven Shamrak.

Only fools and hypocrites would argue that sport and politics do not mix. From the beginning any sports event had a political connotation. Participants almost always represented their villages, cities, tribes, ethnic and religious groups, kingdoms or countries.

It was a warm moment of hope this weekend when I saw the athletes of both Koreas walking as one team during the opening ceremony of the Athens Olympic Games. Even when countries are divided by a physical and ideological border, their leaders made a bold gesture of unity. Then there was Afghanistan and Iraq, both sincerely welcomed back after gaining their freedom from political and religious tyrannies.

I was surprised when I saw the Taiwanese team walk out under the banner of Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong came out as a separate political entity. Obviously, the Chinese Government is playing some political games. And, the International Olympic Committee and Taiwan, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, clearly did not want to irritate a powerful member and neighbour.

Out of many legitimate political causes that the IOC could promote as a part of the Olympic Games I would like, for instance, to see the representatives of Kurdistan, the nation of 35 million people, whose land is divided between five or six countries.

There are many other forgotten people and countries that would benefit from Olympic participation: Tibet, Kashmir, the Basques and Chechens are only some of the nations and countries who are still illegitimately occupied by others. They are in real need of international moral support.

To support them however, means confrontation with countries like China, Russia, India, Pakistan and others. And, we are told, that the Olympic Games are not about confrontation. They are about peace. If this is so, why out of all causes the IOC choose and had been given legitimacy to the most illegitimate and ugly one?

It was sad to see in the Olympic stadium two athletes of fictitious people, from the never existed state of Palestine. It seems that the IOCís sensitivity and intention of harmony and peace applies to all people and nations except Jews and Israel.

I do accept the notion that politics has always played a part in sport. But this is ugly politics - and it makes sport unattractive and dirty!