The 2008 Summer Olympic Games are scheduled to be held in Beijing, China from August 8 to August 24.
As part of the run-up to the Opening Ceremonies, China has mounted an Olympic Flame tour - a highly staged effort to drum up support by having runners carry a torch who's flame was lit in a ceremony in Greece on March 24, as the official International Olympic Committee (IOC) website reports, "by a Holy Priestess, according to the traditional ritual, using the sun's rays and a parabolic mirror."
Since that time the Torch has been mugged in Paris, London, and San Francisco by demonstrators who, apparently, blame it for the troubles between China and Tibet.
The Modern Games were reinstated in 1896 in Athens with the goal of:
"to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
A worthy effort which, unfortunately, has been - as Hamlet said - honored more in the breach than in the observance.
It is precisely because the world's attention turns so fully to the Olympic Games that the whole business becomes as large a stage for political actors as it is a field for athletes.
There is a rule, according to the UK Times, against athletes participating in propaganda. The reporting by Ashling O'Connor has IOC president Jacques Rogge saying that "that competitors were free to express their political views but faced sanctions if they indulged in propaganda."
Fine line there, it seems to me.
Sen. Hillary Clinton has broad-jumped into the fray by demanding that President Bush follow the lead of UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown (whom she praised) in boycotting the Opening Ceremonies.
Once again Hillary appears to have been misinformed. According to The Times, Brown had long ago announced he would be attending the Closing Ceremonies instead and 10 Downing Street has been trying to knock down the notion that Brown was now the poster child for high-level protest of the Chinese government.
The IOC didn't just decide Tuesday afternoon to allow China to host the 2008 Olympics. They awarded the Games to Beijing in July, 2001 with Sports Illustrated saying:
"The International Olympic Committee put aside human rights concerns in making their historic decision, hoping to foster further change in the world's most populous country."
The point being, the world has had seven years to complain about the 2008 games and has had nearly 60 years to complain about China's swallowing of Tibet which (according to the BBC webpage) occurred in 1950.